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Hand sanitizers are alcohol-based gels used to disinfect hands. They can be used instead of soap and water when you cannot wash your hands, and no rinsing is needed.
Hand sanitizers do not remove surface dirt from the hands. But they do kill germs (bacteria) that could spread disease. The product should have 60% to 95% alcohol (ethanol or isopropanol) in it to work best. A dime-sized amount of sanitizer should be poured on the hands and rubbed over all surfaces until dry.
Hand sanitizers are quick and easy to use and cause less skin irritation than soap and water. They help prevent germs from spreading in places such as households, schools, hospitals, child care centers, and animal shelters.
Last Revised: July 9, 2012
Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review: E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine & Christine Hahn, MD - Epidemiology
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