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Hand sanitizer offers a quick and convenient way to remove the bacteria on our hands, but does it really work?

When To Use It

Hands down, washing your hands with soap and water is the best way to remove germs. This is especially true if your hands are heavily soiled, or greasy. Plus, hand washing is the only way to effectively remove certain kinds of germs, such as Cryptosporidium, norovirus, and Clostridium difficile- all of which cause undesirable GI symptoms.

When there is no sink nearby, then hand sanitizer is the next best option. Hand sanitizer is also a great option when your hands are clean but may come in contact with a lot of germs often – such as working in a healthcare setting, or when someone in your house is sick.


Not All Hand Sanitizers Are Created Equal

For hand sanitizer to work effectively, you should choose one where the active ingredient is alcohol and the concentration of the alcohol is above 60 percent. Brands that have less than that are not effective enough, so make sure to check the ingredients label. Alcohol-free brands are not as effective.


How To Use It

In order for hand sanitizer to kill the germs on your hands, you need to use it correctly. Use a dime-sized amount of an alcohol-based sanitizer and rub it between your hands until the product dries completely.  Using too little, or not continuing to rub your hands until they are dry, can lessen the effectiveness of the product.

Clean hands are the best way to protect yourself from getting sick this cold and flu season. Hand sanitizers are a good option when soap and water are not available.


Weekly Health Tips are brought to you by UCF Health, the College of Medicine’s physician practice. Offering primary and specialty care under one roof, UCF Health treats patients age 16 and up in primary care and age 18 and up for specialty care. Most major insurance plans are accepted. Two locations are now open: the original in East Orlando at Quadrangle and University boulevards just blocks from the main UCF campus, and the newest one in Medical City at Narcoossee Road and Tavistock Lakes Boulevard. Information for both facilities can be found at, or call (407) 266-DOCS to schedule an appointment.

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