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Disinfect with hand sanitizer

When and how should you use hand sanitizer?

The ideal way to keep your hands clean and reduce risk of infection by or spread of microorganisms, bacteria, and germs, says Health Canada, is to wash them for at least 20 seconds with soap and warm water. But if you can't get to running water immediately, you can use hand sanitizer in a pinch.

To use it properly, according to Infection Prevention and Control Canada (IPAC), first remove your hand and arm jewelry since bacteria can get stuck in them (you should be wary of artificial nails and chipped nail polish as well, which can also hide bacteria.) Apply about a quarter size worth of sanitizer in your hand (about 1-2 pumps) then rub them together so that the sanitizer covers the entire surface of both hands.

Then, rub to evenly distribute it everywhere, being particularly mindful of getting in between your fingers, on your fingertips, at the back of your hands, and at the base of your thumbs. Keep rubbing until your hands feel completely dry, which should take about 15-30 seconds. Only use hand sanitizer, however, says IPAC, if there is no visible dirt on your hands.

What types of hand sanitizer are available?

You'll find lots of different types of hand sanitizer on the market, but always make sure that whichever you buy is approved by Health Canada. You can see a continuously updated list on their website.

Hand sanitizer comes in individual bottles, packs of anywhere from two or three to up to 48 bottles in various sizes and quantities, and even large litre or gallon jugs that you can use to refill smaller bottles. You can even get bulk hand sanitizer if you want to keep stocked up or need it for a high-traffic area like school or store.

In terms of style, there are small pump bottles, ideal for keeping in the kitchen or the bathroom, larger hand sanitizer dispensers for refills, pour bottles, and pocketable ones to pop in your purse or shirt pocket to use on-the-go.

What should you look for when buying hand sanitizer?

As noted, first and foremost, make sure the hand sanitizer is approved by Health Canada for sale in the country. Second, effective hand sanitizer should have more than 60% alcohol content. For this reason, Health Canada recommends against trying to make your own at home as it could be unsafe and ineffective.

Some hand sanitizers are made in Canada, which might appeal to shoppers who want to support our home and native land. Some advertise no fragrances, stickiness, or irritation to the skin, which are all appreciated features. You might want to opt for hand sanitizer that includes moisturizers to help prevent your hands from getting dry after repeated use; just make sure the alcohol content is over 60%. While most hand sanitizer comes in liquid gel form, some come in spray bottles, which some people might prefer.