Hand sanitizer safety

We can help stop the spread of COVID-19 by regularly washing our hands with soap and water for 20 seconds, especially after using the bathroom, before eating, and after coughing, sneezing, or blowing our nose.

If soap and water are not available, it is recommended to use alcohol-based hand sanitizers containing at least 60% alcohol (ethyl alcohol or isopropyl alcohol) to avoid getting sick and spreading germs to others.

Hand sanitizer against COVID-19

There are several precautions to take when using hand sanitizers. Let’s look at them together.”

The Different Types of Hand Sanitizers

First of all, there are different types of hand sanitizers, but all have a common formulation: an active agent and other additives. The best-known instant hand sanitizer (Purell) is alcohol-based.

Alcohol-Based

As the name implies, alcohol, particularly ethyl-alcohol or isopropyl alcohol, is the active agent that kills most pathogens by denaturing their cell membranes, thereby killing them. In addition, alcohol is sometimes combined with glycerin or aloe vera gel to get hydrated, germ-free hands. In addition, Purell hand sanitizer can be fortified with odor-causing corposants. There are hand sanitizing gels that smell like lavender, lemon, berries, etc. Thus, the hand gel is more than a hand cleaner and antiseptic liquid, but it gives the hands dryness, cleanliness, and fragrance.

Alcohol Based cleaner

Alcohol-Free

We can also find types of alcohol-free products, such as hydrogen peroxide-based sanitizer, widely used as a disinfectant and even as a detergent. In addition, quaternary ammonium compounds, in short, “quats”, are used to sanitize and deodorize. But this type of product is only effective in the case of enveloped pathogens (bacteria, fungi, etc.), so a norovirus cannot be eliminated with quats.

Common Risks

here are some common risks to using hand sanitizers. First, some of us may use hand sanitizer carelessly and get too close to the fire. This is very dangerous because hands can catch fire, especially if used by children. Hand sanitizers are flammable. Their flashpoint is usually between 60- and 70-degrees Fahrenheit. Therefore, hand sanitizers do not need an external heat source to release these vapors, which means that any ignition source, such as a candle or lighter flame, can ignite them.

Does this mean that hand sanitizers are not safe? Absolutely not. Hand sanitizers are very safe and there is no risk of hands spontaneously combusting unless they are very close to a fire source. In fact, a hand sanitizer dispenser with a one-liter reservoir dispenses 1.2 ml of its contents. This small amount, combined with the warm temperature of the hand skin, will cause the liquid to evaporate quickly due to its volatile nature without posing a flammability threat.

The risk of fire is very high when storing very large quantities of hand sanitizer. Therefore, if special and proper storage conditions are not followed and all necessary precautions are not taken, the results can be catastrophic. Secondly, some people with hyper-sensitive skin may experience pain and irritation in their hands when using hand sanitizer, so most hand sanitizers include moisturizing ingredients such as glycerin to keep hands hydrated as alcohol can dry out the skin.

Hand sanitizers can be harmful to the eyes, for both children and adults. That’s what we’ll find out in addition to how to prevent the danger in what follows.

Keep it Out of Your Eyes

One of the main risks of using hand sanitizer is direct contact with the eyes. In fact, hand sanitizer can accidentally be sprayed directly into the eyes because some people tend to keep the hand sanitizer dispenser at a low height that can actually be at eye level when bending over to use it. In addition, the nozzle can sometimes be facing the wrong direction, so it can shoot directly into the eyes and startle the user.

Exposure of the eyes to hand sanitizer can be dangerous. Ultimately, an alcohol-based hand sanitizer is an alcohol. It has a neutral or basic PH and direct contact with the eye can cause a corneal abrasion. If this happens, you may feel a burning sensation in your eyes and they may become red and itchy. The most important thing you can do to avoid these tragic consequences is to reduce the amount of time the sanitizer stays in your damaged eye.

First, you should wash your hands with soap and water to remove any residue of the disinfectant in your hand. This will prevent you from making your eye condition worse by adding more sanitizer. Also, you should be very careful not to rub your eyes. This will only cause further irritation. Secondly, you need to pour a large amount of water into your eyes to dilute the sanitizer that has gone into them and finally remove it. 

You can do this by standing under the faucet, for example, with your eyes wide open.  You must do this for at least 20 minutes to find relief. The reaction of the eyes caused by the hand sanitizer is mostly a mild reaction. But sometimes, the irritation and burning sensation can persist even after rinsing the eyes. In this case, you should contact your eye doctor specialist.

Watch Out for Your Kids

With viruses spreading easily in schools and daycare centers, introducing hand sanitizer into a child’s daily routine becomes a necessity. However, hand sanitizer-related accidents are more common in children than in adults. Hand sanitizer dispensers in public places, for example, are usually adjusted to fit adults without taking into account the size of young children. Thus, the dispenser nozzle is usually at a level that makes it easier to spray into children’s eyes.

In addition, children’s skin is very sensitive. The use of usual hand sanitizers for children can, in some cases, cause irritation of their skin. It is therefore advisable to use hand sanitizers with soothing properties such as aloe vera in their formula. This will then prevent irritation. On the market, there are hand sanitizers for children. They are colored, contain glitter, and smell like peach, mango, coconut, etc.

Teach your kids about handwashing

They are very attractive to children who would like to swallow them out of curiosity. It is, therefore, best to keep these products out of reach of children and instead give them clear hand sanitizers that do not look very exciting. And since children under five tend to want to taste it anyway, parents should be sure to pour it into their children’s hands themselves. Children who swallow hand sanitizers get poisoned, and it has been reported that more and more children under the age of five, who have easy access to hand sanitizers, are getting poisoned.

Poisoning Risks

With the rapid spread of the pandemic, the demand for hand sanitizers has increased significantly. There are many types of hand sanitizers on the market. However, not all of them are effective and, more importantly, safe. The best type of hand sanitizer to buy is one that is made with 60% rubbing alcohol, on the label of the bottle being written ethanol or ethyl alcohol. Some poor-quality hand sanitizers, which are not approved worldwide, contain high levels of toxic methanol, which can cause blindness if accidentally splashed in the eyes and even death if swallowed.

That’s why it’s of utmost importance to know the ingredients of hand sanitizer before you buy it. You can find the ingredients of each product on the label on the back of the bottle. Some companies add ingredients to their hand sanitizers that make it taste disgusting to children who accidentally swallow it. However, even with an ethanol-based hand sanitizer, the risk of poisoning still exists.

In any case, you should make sure you don’t swallow the hand sanitizer. Even a small amount of hand sanitizer ingested can cause alcohol poisoning and endanger the lives of children, adults, and pets. In fact, you should not use hand sanitizer on your pets’ paws because they will lick it off. You should call your veterinarian or pet poison control center immediately if you think they have done this.

To avoid any risk of ingesting alcoholic hand sanitizer, you can wait until the sanitizer has evaporated, and then you can eat or do any other activity. It will only take a few seconds and the sanitizer will evaporate, taking the tiny particles that were on your hand with it. Finally, be sure not to wipe or rinse it off until it has evaporated, or it may not be effective against germs.

Is Homemade Hand Sanitizer a Good Idea?

If you’re planning to follow any homemade sanitizer recipe, think again. Some people use homemade recipes to avoid the chemicals found in commercial hand sanitizers or for any other good intention. However, let us recall the old adage that the road to hell is paved with good intentions. The majority of recipes found online are not reliable. There have been reports of burns from homemade sanitizers, especially those that contain methanol instead of ethanol.

And even if you follow a reliable recipe like the World Health Organization’s, you can easily mess it up and it likely won’t work, even if you do it carefully and perfectly. You will then be unconsciously exposed directly to the viruses, without any shield or protection. Reliable homemade recipes are intended to be the last resort when hand sanitizer is in short supply and soap and water are not available.

Under normal conditions, commercial hand sanitizer is the most reliable choice, especially since it contains many inactive ingredients that help the product work better. In addition, the active ingredients in commercial hand sanitizer are carefully measured and verified by reliable institutions before the product is approved. Homemade recipes usually do not respect the exact amount of ingredients, especially the alcohol, which is a fatal mistake.

Receipe for Homemade Sanitizer

If the alcohol concentration is not high enough, the hand sanitizer will be unable to disrupt the coronavirus membranes and denature the proteins it contains. Some recipes replace the alcohol with essential oils that will provide an ideal environment for the virus to live since the fat can protect the viruses from deterioration. These mistakes make hand sanitizer useless and consequently, you would lose your first line of defense.

What can the Refillable Reservoir of an Automatic Sanitizer Dispenser be Filled With?

An automatic sanitizer dispenser is a bulk-fill hygienic accessory that can be filled with foam and soap. It no longer belongs only to the bathroom accessories. Indeed, public places are filled with these automatic and mostly touchless infrared dispensers that dispense antimicrobial hand soaps, liquid soaps, foams, anti-bacterial gels, etc. without contaminating the bulk as they are pumped out.

People can disinfect their hands when a sink is not available and cannot wash their hands with antibacterial soap and water. The Ir sensor is truly a blessing. It eliminates the need to touch any push button to get liquid soap for handwashing. It’s a great and effective way to reduce the spread of infectious germs, cross-contamination, and avoid illnesses like the flu.  The number one cause of contamination is a contaminated hand, as our hands are the first area in constant contact with germs such as aerosols, microbes, viruses, and bacteria that can exist on any surface. 

Filling hand sanitizer dispenser
Our Sanitizer Dispenser is super easy to be filled

Therefore, hand hygiene, whether by washing with soap for 20 seconds or with one of the different types of hand sanitizers, is essential to ensure safety.

Can We Mix Two Alcohol-Based Sanitizers? Is This Safe At All Times?

First of all, alcohol-based hand sanitizer gel never contains absolute alcohol. We use 60% -70% concentrated alcohol. The addition of 30% water only enhances the effectiveness of the disinfectant in eliminating microorganisms. Chemically speaking, there is no problem in mixing alcohols. In fact, isopropyl and ethanol are very similar and do not react with each other. So there is no advantage to mixing 70% isopropyl with 70% ethanol.

We will end up with a 70% alcohol-based sanitizer. However, if we mix 1 liter of 60% isopropyl with 1 liter of 50% ethanol, we will get 2 liters of 55% alcohol-based solution, which is ineffective for killing pathogens. We at least need 60% alcohol.

Most of the time, alcohol is safe for external use. But some alcohols are toxic, like methanol. So, it is not advisable to use them for sanitation or to mix them and care should be taken when handling these flammable liquids.

Your Experience With Hand Sanitizers

Were you using Hand Sanitizer before COVID-19 or did it becomes your new must-have in your daily routine? Or did you create your very own recipe of hand sanitizer and want to share to the community your tips?

We highly invite you to share your thoughts about that topic in the comment sections below! Your advice can help our readers a lot!

The Equipsafe Team

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