Is Hand Sanitizer Good For You?

Hand sanitizer is a growing epidemic. Purell use, in particular is growing at very large amounts. Hand sanitizer is just so convent. It's much quicker then soap and water, and is only one step to use. These alcohol based hand sanitizers come in gel and even foam form. You can find these industrial sizes hand sanitizer despisers every,from the pollack dining hall to hospitals. And why not? It's a quick and easy way to disinfect your hands. We know it kills germs, it even says it kills 99% or bacteria. But is that good?

Why Hand Sanitizer is Good
Hand sanitizer is good for many obvious reasons. First, it does kill bacteria which could make you sick and causes illness. Therefore in ways the hand sanitizer is preventing the spread of bacteria and illnesses. Second, it is very convenient, and reasonably priced. According to studies done by Purell, the use of Purell reduces the amount of sick days. By putting the hand sanitizers in schools and work places, it was found to prevent the spread of illnesses causing fewer sick days. 

Why Hand Sanitizer is Bad
One thing you need to pay careful attention to is how much percent ethanol is in the hand sanitizer. If it is less then 65% it has found to be not useful in a study done by Scott Reynolds a  specialist in infection control. Another thing you must realize is that alcohol doesn't cut through grime well. So dirt, blood, feces, etc. must be washed away first. Hand sanitizer just isn't soap and water. Many researchers suggest that hand sanitizer may not be a replacement for soap and water but an important supplement. Perhaps the worst thing about hand sanitizer is that it made people believe they don't need to use soap and water anymore, which could be very harmful.


Apparently hand sanitizer can also potentially lower your immune system. According to, although sanitizer kills many harmful germs, it also kills bacteria that can be beneficial, which leaves room for more harmful bacteria to grow and cause you to become sick. Also, using too much sanitizer can potentially result in the development of allergies, asthma, or skin problems.

I have concluded that our society as a whole is germophobic. People seem to be cleaning (hands, body, property) more than ever. The use of hand sanitizer is a debate I believe will grow over the next few years. The issue is that are we killing too many germs? This video (see source) states that a recent study showed that people who lived on farms were less likely to have allergies or asthma than those who do not. This is just the beginning of the debate. I think hand sanitizer needs to be used in a much more balanced way than it is today.


Actually this Study that claims that hand sanitizer is ineffective and does not really do a good job at fighting colds or the flue. The study concluded that the difference in infection rate for cold and flue for those who used hand sanitizer every 3 hours was not statistically significantly different from those who did not(as in people who washed their hands with soap and water.)

Also note: A product that claims to kill 99% of all bacteria, it keeps 1 percent of it, right? So that 1% not killed will multiply and they will develop an immunity to it, meaning that the products become less effective over time.

The issue of whether or not hand sanitizer really is "that good" still confuses me. If I'm not mistaken, Andrew brought about this topic in class once. In my point of view, I am one of those people who really like to squeeze this little Purell hand sanitizer whenever I touched something that makes me feel "insecure". So yes, I do really want to know how does this thing work. Basically, hand sanitizers work by shredding away the outer layer of oil on the skins. This will prevent bacteria present "in the body" from coming to the surface of the hand. Somehow, these bacterias "in the body" are not those ones that will make us sick. According to this article from ">, which provides a review of the research from an associate professor at Purdue University who concludes that hand sanitizers do not significantly reduce the number of bacteria on the hand. The last part where you've mentioned about "why hand sanitizer is bad" is really true to me. I used to believe hand sanitizer can be a substitute for soap and water! It is quicker to just wash your hand with this sanitizer rather than walk to the bathroom. However, once reading your article and other sources, to me I'd prefer to go to the bathroom and wash my hands with soap and water instead.

I've always been a believer in hand sanitizer but it turns out that it can actually weaker your immune system. Killing 99.99% of germs sanitizer does not discriminate between good germs and bad germs. I never thought of the necessary bacterias on our hands that boost our immune system and that fact that some germ exposure is necessary to build up our immune systems and help protect us from disease. Also, a Northwestern study suggests that ultra clean and hygienic environments especially early in life can increase risk for disease as adults.

I am also an avid user of hand sanitizer because I truly have thought of it as an effective germ killer. But after hearing all the evidence it looks as though I have been falsely informed. The reason for it being 99.9% effective is very misleading and here is the reason why they can market that fact. "The manufacturers of the products test the products on inanimate surfaces hence they are able to derive the claims of 99.9 percent of bacteria killed. If the products were fully tested on hands, there would no doubt be different results" ( feel like more of the public should be aware of that fact because people should really wash their hands instead of using products such as Purell. Companies will do everything to sell their products, even if it means completely misleading the public.

Ever since I got to college, I've become a germophobe, so I carry my trusty bottles of sanitizer from Bath and Body Works around with me everywhere. I didn't realize that to be effective, sanitizer needed to be at least 65% alcohol. Luckily, the B&BW ones are 68% alcohol. But does that really make a difference? I've seen such an increase in the amount of hand sanitizer used over the past few years, and it makes me wonder if people are actually getting sicker because of it.

Also, why is there not a sanitizer fully effective against nasty bugs like MRSA, norovirus and norwalk-like viruses, and other germs? Those germs and viruses are way scarier than the flu, or even the common cold, but yet we have to wash our hands thoroughly to rid ourselves of them. If scientists came up with a hand sanitizer to kill them, would the industry be booming, or would people still be a bit weary of them?

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