How to properly use hand sanitizer to help prevent coronavirus

Using hand sanitizer is one of the most effective ways to protect yourself from the coronavirus — but only if you’ve been applying it correctly.

Hand sanitizers containing at least 60% alcohol can be used to get rid of germs in situations where soap and water aren’t available, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

But it only works if you’ve used enough. Before using the product, the CDC recommends reading the label first to ensure the correct amount of gel is being applied.

“Although alcohol-based hand sanitizers can inactivate many types of microbes very effectively when used correctly, people may not use a large enough volume of the sanitizers,” the agency said.

And it only works if you ensure you are distributing the product correctly.

Hand sanitizer should be applied to one palm before rubbing the hands together, the CDC instructs. While rubbing, the gel should be spread all over the hands and fingers, covering all surfaces until completely dry, the agency said. This process should take around 20 seconds.Apply the gel product to the palm of one hand (read the label to learn the correct amount). Rub your hands together. Rub the gel over all the surfaces of your hands and fingers until your hands are dry. This should take around 20 seconds.

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But despite the benefits of sanitizer in helping to protect against the coronavirus, the health agency warns that the product should only be used when you’re on the go and don’t have access to soap.

“Soap and water are more effective than hand sanitizers at removing certain kinds of germs, like Cryptosporidium, norovirus, and Clostridium difficile,” the CDC said.

Hand sanitizer is especially not as effective as soap and water when hands are visibly dirty or greasy.

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“Many studies show that hand sanitizers work well in clinical settings like hospitals, where hands come into contact with germs but generally are not heavily soiled or greasy,” the agency said. “When hands are heavily soiled or greasy, hand sanitizers may not work well.”

The product, however, has been flying off shelves as the coronavirus spreads to more than 700 people in the US and has caused at least 26 deaths.

Health officials have also advised avoiding crowds, stocking up on groceries in case you need to self-isolate and staying home if you experience flu-like symptoms.

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