Taking measures to provide a clean & safe environment has never been so crucial. As hand sanitisers are being placed at the entrance and throughout care homes, the question asked is 'Is your hand sanitiser effective enough?" meaning does it have the capability of destroying COVID-19?
Having direct contact with residents in long-term care facilities is inevitable, especially when helping people with personal care. Carers and healthcare workers need to have high levels of personal protection when dealing with residents to minimise the risk of COVID-19 infection, making hand hygiene all the more important.
Washing with warm water and soap remains the gold standard for hand hygiene as soap removes oils from our hands that can harbour microbes and thus preventing the spread of infectious diseases but hand sanitizers can also protect against disease-causing microbes, especially in situations when soap and water aren’t available.
Not all hand sanitisers are effective against COVID-19
It is tempting to buy a hand sanitiser whose label states that it kills 99% bacteria but that does not mean that the product will protect you against the novel coronavirus.
The alcohol content needed for a hand sanitizer to be effective at killing COVID-19
Alcohol-based handrubs are known for rapidly and effectively inactivating a wide array of potentially harmful microorganisms on hands.
Hand sanitizers at 60% alcohol will kill most viruses but can’t remove all types of germs.
Studies have shown that higher alcohol concentrations work better at killing other coronaviruses
The World Health Organisation recommends alcohol - based handrubs
75% isopropanol alcohol
Alcohol-based Vs alcohol-free
Alcohol-based hand sanitisers contain varying amounts and types of alcohol, often between 60 percent and 95 percent, usually isopropyl alcohol, ethanol (ethyl alcohol) or n-propanol. It is known to be able to kill most germs.
.Alcohol attacks and destroys the envelope protein that surrounds some viruses by breaking up the germ membranes. This protein is vital for their survival and multiplication.
Alcohol-free hand sanitisers reduce microbes but are less effective than alcohol in killing viruses
Best practice hand hygiene advice
washing your hands with soap and water is first choice, and avoiding touching your face as much as possible. Research has found that the detergent effect of soap and the friction of washing work together to reduce the number of microbes as well as the dirt and organic materials.
If you sneeze or cough into your hands it requires more than just a pump of hand sanitiser to disinfect them. This is because if your hands are contaminated with mucous, the hand sanitiser might not work as well because mucous acts to protect microbes.
But if soap and water aren’t available then use a hand sanitiser but just like when washing with soap and water, you need to make sure you cover your hands (including between your knuckles, wrists, palms, back of your hand and your fingernails) fully, rubbing it in for at least 20 seconds so it’s truly effective
Surgical Hand Disinfection With Alcohols at Various Concentrations: Parallel Experiments Using the New Proposed European Standards Method, Volume 19, Issue 10, October 1998 , pp. 778-781
Manfred L. Rotter (a1), Rosemary A. Simpson and Walter Koller
75% Alcohol Hand Sanitiser 5L Litres - Kills Bacteria Viruses Sanitiser Rub
Hand sanitiser. Fast drying. No water needed. 5 Litres. Made in UK
Active ingredient: Isopropyl Alcohol 75%
IMPORTANT: Always follow the safety instructions and remember this is only for cleaning your hands. Don’t bathe or drink it!