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March 22, 2006

Many hand sanitizers useless

According to an article in the this month's Journal of Emerging Infectious Diseases, some brands of alcohol-based hand sanitizer gels don't contain enough alcohol to kill germs. To be effective, products must contain at least 60% alcohol. A lot of products on the market aren't strong enough to be effective. [NYT]


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huh? The article said at least one brand on the market didn't meet the 60% level, but I got the impression that most seemed to work fine. One expert was shocked that there was a less than 60% brand on the market...

Personally, I'm a soap and water guy, so it's of too little interest for me to go back and re-read the article, I'm afraid.

Yeah, I'm going to change the headline. It's not clear from the article what percentage of hand sanitizers meet the 60% standard.

purell = 62%

Sixty percent alcohol, you say? Well that's the last time I use Jim Beam to wash my hands. Is it still an effective mouthwash?

I wonder if there's been any investigation on the popularity of these products with hypochondriacs and obsessive-compulsive handwashers. It would be an interesting marketing project--I'd imagine that if it caught on, it would represent a significant breakthrough in convenience for people with irrational desires to wash their hands too frequently. I can't imagine there are all that many people with those conditions relative to the market as a whole, but if it really caught on I can imagine a true obsessive-compulsive going through a bottle a day or more...

I go through a bottle of Jim Beam every day, but that doesn't mean I have problem.

I imagine, Lindsay, that the news caught your eye for exactly the same reason it catches mine: after Katrina, in the Zone, clean water for washing could be hard to come by. I have vivid memories of foodlines where the first thing hungry people would pass by would be large pump-bottles filled with hand sanitizer.

When I worked in a lab I think we soaked things for 15 minutes in 70% ethanol or if we wanted instant we dunked the forceps or what have you in 100% and set it on fire. By either of those standards for sterility, a quick wipe with the goo is nothing and never ought to have been represented as better.

The article didn't mention brandnames, but I can. I have Purell in every room and it is listed as 62% ethyl alcohol. Got used to it when I had an immuno-suppressed housemate.

I also have a problem with the tone of articles like this, hospital standards are not necessarily home standards. If your washing techniques take the staph on hands from X to 1/10 X that is unacceptable for a hospital, but certainly is better than nothing for home use, and improves your odds significantly.

quisp beat me to it. darn, it was small.

Hey, it feels good. Was just talking about new Purell mices, the lady uses a lotion after Purell because she doesn't like the dryness. I like the dryness.

I am so well-trained a toilet-seat left up offends me.
My dogs drink the water, and I am always forgetting to leave the seat up.

If only someone could invent a way we could put our hands into a microwave oven, then the problem of effective sanitizing would be solved....

How about washing your hands with Drano?

To be effective, products must contain at least 60% alcohol. A lot of products on the market aren't strong enough to be effective.

On the plus side, they're probably still strong enough to get you hammered.

Possible applications for hand sanitizers go beyond the "Obsessive compulsive" handwashers. There are municipal workers whose daily assignments take them into areas where soap and water are often not available( forests, sanitation routes, Bridge and road repair crews), but these workers need a way to clean their hands, just as you like to do before they eat lunch.

So 60.14% is effective? That's all I needed to know. I use "Avon Naturals Antibacterial Hand Gel."

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