How to use Hand Sanitiser: All Your Questions Answered

How to use Hand Sanitiser: All Your Questions Answered
11 April 2021

How to use Hand Sanitiser: All Your Questions Answered

How to use Hand Sanitiser: All Your Questions Answered 

Hand sanitiser has become an essential piece of equipment at the entrance of every shop, bar, restaurant, ticket office, and train station in the UK. Most of us are guaranteed to have a personal hand sanitiser in our car or bag right now too.

A good quality hand sanitiser will kill 99.99% of germs and bacteria. Using hand sanitiser in the correct way means you’ll get all the benefits of having an on-the-go tool for sterilising your hands and cutting through the cycle of infection.

As a manufacturer and supplier of hand sanitiser, we hear a lot of questions about how, when, and in what situations hand sanitiser should be used. Read on for all the answers.

Using hand sanitiser

How and When to Use Hand Sanitiser

Using hand sanitiser pump

How to Use Hand Sanitiser

Learning how to use hand sanitiser gel is very easy, it’s similar to how to wash your hands with soap and water. The best way to use hand gel is to:

1. Pump hand sanitiser into the palm of your hand
2. Rub your hands together and spread the gel over the entire surface of each hand
3. Rub the back of each hand and in between your fingers
4. Rub the backs of your fingers against your palms
5. Make a fist around each thumb and twist to clean it 
6. Rub the tips of your fingers on your palms

When you’re thinking of how to sanitise your hands remember that alcohol gel evaporates much more quickly than water so you might need to speed this process up. However, you use hand gel, make sure you cover your whole hands including the backs, thumbs, and fingers.

How Much Hand Sanitiser to Use

Using too little hand sanitiser means you won’t cover the surface of your hands well enough for its disinfecting properties to take action. It is recommended that roughly a coin-sized amount of hand sanitiser should be used by adults, a smaller amount is sufficient for childrens’ hands. 

One pump from our 500ml bottle of hand sanitiser is enough to cover both hands of an adult. 

Is using too much hand sanitiser bad?

Doctors recommend that you only use hand sanitiser when you don’t have access to soap and water. This is because using too much hand sanitiser can dry out the skin on your hands, causing discomfort. Not only this, but dry, rough skin on your hands is more likely to pick up germs and bacteria. Skin that cracks or chaps due to dryness risks leaving open wounds on your body, exposed to potential infection. 

Where possible, using a moisturising hand gel is a good idea. This means that when you do need to use a hand sanitiser, your hands will be protected with emollients that protect the skin.

Stereo-san Hand Gel has moisturising properties and is dermatologically tested to be kind to sensitive skin.

When to Use Hand Gel and When to Wash Your Hands

When should you use hand sanitiser?

The purpose of a hand sanitiser is to give you the opportunity to wash your hands when you don’t have access to soap and water. Here are some instances when you should use hand sanitiser:

  • On public: before getting on; after using ticket machines; after touching handrails; after getting off. 
  • In hospitality venues: before entering; after touching door handles, tables, and chairs; after leaving.
  • Going grocery shopping: before entering; before packing your groceries after they've been scanned; after leaving. 

If you’re outside and you’ve touched objects other people might have, like doors, benches, parking meters, post boxes, or any other touchpoints other people use, sanitise your hands.

How often should you use hand sanitiser?

Use hand sanitiser as often as you need to to keep your hands clean when you can’t wash them. If you’re worried that the skin on your hands is becoming dry, use a moisturising hand sanitiser, or carry a hand cream to use afterwards. 

Do we need to wash hands after using sanitiser?

Hand sanitiser is there for use when you can’t wash your hands with soap and water. The way hand sanitiser is designed means you can use it without needing to rinse your hands afterwards. When you apply hand sanitiser the water and alcohol will evaporate in a matter of seconds leaving you with clean dry hands.

Is handwashing better than hand sanitiser?

Is hand sanitiser better than soap and water? While it’s a good substitute, there’s a reason soap and water is the first recommendation for keeping hands clean. The American Society for Microbiology conducted a study in 2019 on situations leading to the reduced effectiveness of hand hygiene and found that washing hands is more effective than using a hand gel. But when you don’t have a sink to wash your hands in, it’s far better to have a hand sanitiser in reach than to do nothing.

When you clean your hands, you don’t simply remove one virus cell, you significantly deplete the number of virus cells on the surface of your hands. This is why it’s important to wash your hands thoroughly and at least for 20 seconds. While hand gel is effective, it isn’t as effective as using soap and water. 

When is it not appropriate to use alcohol hand gel?

When not to use alcohol hand gel depends on where you are and the state your hands are in. Do not use hang gel if:

1. Your hands are visibly dirty. Disinfection only works when there is no dirt or grime on a surface, so if your hands have visible or tangible residue they will need to be properly scrubbed and washed.

2. You have access to soap and running water. Soap and water should always be used if you can.

Close up of using hand sanitiser

How Long Does Hand Sanitiser Last on Your Hands and Does it Expire?

How long does hand sanitiser last?

Many people wonder ‘how long does hand sanitiser last once applied?’ and this is a valid question in making sure you keep your hands clean. Hand sanitiser is only ‘active’ on your hands for around two minutes which means the gel is taking an effect and actively killing germs and bacteria on your hands. After this hand gel is no longer effective. 

Asking ‘how long is hand sanitiser effective?’ is especially relevant to keeping your hands free of bacteria and virus cells, though. As soon as you touch anything after sanitising your hands you risk picking up new germs. The most important thing is to regularly sanitise or wash your hands to decrease the chances of transmitting something from one touchpoint to another.

Does hand sanitiser expire?

Can hand sanitisers expire? Yes, hand sanitiser has a use-by date which you should be aware of. Typically, hand sanitisers last for two to three years in their bottle in the right conditions (stored in a cool dark place with the lid shut). 

Does expired hand sanitiser work?

Is expired hand sanitiser still good? The alcohol content of hand gel decreases over time and with it the effectiveness of the hand gel. The alcohol in hand gel is the active ingredient that combats bacteria, viruses and pathogens, so when this depletes the hand gel will work less well over time.

How long is hand sanitiser good for? Find out more in our blog.

What happens if you put hand sanitiser on a cut?

Can you put hand sanitiser on a cut? Yes. Does putting hand sanitiser on cuts help? Not really. Hand sanitiser is not designed for use in cleaning wounds. The active ingredient in hand sanitiser is alcohol, and with its strength and concentration in hand gel, combined with other additives that many hand gels contain, you risk damaging the delicate wound tissue even more. This, together with the drying properties of hand gel means you could be making an injury worse and more prone to infection. 

The best way to clean a wound is with gentle soap and cool water. Finding a source of soap and water to clean a wound is the best course of action. When it comes to cuts and scrapes, preparation is the best thing. You might want to keep a small first aid kit in your bag or car in case of emergencies, like our compact 40 Piece Fold Up First Aid Kit.

Other Frequently Asked Questions about Hand Sanitiser

Can we eat after using hand sanitiser?

Yes, eating after using hand sanitiser is fine as long as you have rubbed it into your hands and they have dried. This means you won’t transfer any of the substance to your food when you touch it. Even if you do, a small amount of hand gel ingested won’t harm you.

Can you use hand sanitiser on your feet?

Many cosmetics and footwear brands have recommended people to use hand gel on their feet to combat the unpleasant smell that can be caused by bacteria build-up. While this might work in theory there are no studies to show the effectiveness of this. 

Putting hand gel on your feet is no more dangerous than using it on your hands as long as you do not over-use it and dry out your skin. If you use hand gel on your feet take care to check the condition of your skin, particularly between your toes, to make sure it is not drying out. 

Is it ok to put hand sanitiser on your face?

Some people ask whether hand sanitiser can be used on the face to combat spots or dry out oily skin.

What happens when you put hand sanitiser on your face might not be what many people expect. The skin on your face is much different to that of your hands and feet, and far more delicate. Using hand gel on your facial skin can disrupt its delicate pH and sebum production, causing irritation which could be uncomfortable and make your complexion less even. 

Applying hand gel to the face also runs the risk of getting it inside your mouth and eyes which is dangerous. 

Is it bad to put hand sanitiser on a pimple?

Although hand gel contains antiseptic properties, it won’t help to clear up spots. Spots require gentle, deep cleaning cosmetics that penetrate into pores without irritating skin. If you put had sanitiser on a spot on the face you are likely to irritate the skin even more and exacerbate the problem.

Can you use hand sanitiser under your arms?

Some people have turned to hand sanitiser as a remedy for underarm body odour thanks to its bacteria-killing effects. While this might work, it’s not recommended to use hand gel on your underarms. You risk upsetting the natural balance of the delicate skin in this area, similar to use on the face. Hand gel applied to your underarms could lead to irritated, dry, red, or itchy skin. 

What Happens if you Drink Hand Sanitiser?

People wondering ‘what happens if you drink antibacterial hand gel?’ should be strongly cautioned not to try to ingest it. The alcohol in hand gel is often entirely different to that found in alcoholic drinks, and its concentration is much higher, making it very dangerous to ingest. People have died and gone blind from drinking hand sanitiser.

Young children may find the smell, colour, and consistency of hand gel to be an indicator that it might taste nice, so it’s important to monitor their use of it. Teenagers should also be made aware that hand gel is not a toy and trying to become intoxicated from it is a serious risk to their health. 

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