You Might Be Using Hand Sanitizer Wrong—Here’s How Much You Really Need

Sure, I’ve tried to be a good little Covid-19 soldier, wearing a mask, social distancing and frequently washing my now-cryptkeeper-crisp hands...only to find out I've been using hand sanitizer wrong whenever I’ve been in shops or at the gas station. I discovered a graphic from the World Health Organization (WHO) demonstrating best practices, and offer it to you here to highlight how an absentminded or careless pump-and-rub can be next to no good. Let’s go over three common mistakes I’ve made—and according to health professionals, other people make too—when sanitizing: Not using enough product, skipping surfaces and not pausing to let the gel dry.

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1. Don’t Skimp on Sanitizer

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), you need enough hand sanitizer to cover all the surfaces of your hands. Whereas, let's be honest, it’s tempting to think that just a quick pump as you walk in the door of the grocery store is enough to work. Unlike soap and water which actually removes germs from the skin, sanitizer kills germs...and only germs it comes in direct contact with.

2. Don’t Skip Any Surfaces

Once you get a good palmful of 60 percent-or-more alcohol-based sanitizing foam, gel or liquid on your hands, be sure to lavish it not just on your fingertips but also on your palms and in between your fingers and on the "dorsum" of your hands. We learned that fancy term from the WHO (it just means the back of your hands) so, rub it out.

3. Let the Sanitizer Dry

Altogether, you’re supposed to rub your alcohol-drenched hands together for 20 to 30 seconds, which the CDC advises so that the solution has time to inactivate germs. If you go ahead and touch anything with your wet hands, you’re just wiping the sanitizer off on that surface, defeating the purpose of the 15 or so seconds youv’e already invested in your health and the health of your community. Bonus move: Keep rubbing your hands until they are dry, so that you have extra opportunity to cover every millimeter of skin.

Don’t make these mistakes. I’m printing the WHO step-by-step guide and putting it in my car so that I can teach my friends and family members to ride shotgun safely.

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Dana Dickey

Senior Editor

Dana Dickey is a PureWow Senior Editor, and during more than a decade in digital media, she has scoped out and tested top products and services across the lifestyle space...
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