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How Hand Sanitizers Made Their Debut

With today's realization on hygiene and germ-free world, hand sanitizers have hugely replaced the traditional soap and water in many places. Let us find out how this hand sanitizer evolved...

Earlier, whenever our hands used to get dirty, we used to go in search of a good soap and water. This used to become a great inconvenience especially when we are traveling. Water spills and soap not getting rinsed properly and of course, water wastage, all these factors contributed to the discovery of something called as hand sanitizer. Let us find out how this hand sanitizer evolved...

What is hand sanitizer?

Hand sanitizers are effective hand cleaners that kill germs and bacteria. They are alcohol based and not just lift the germs and bacteria from our hands but effectively kill them the moment it gets in contact with them.

Hand sanitizers are basically made up of ethyl alcohol and inactive additives such as water, other alcohols and fragrances. Ethyl alcohol is the only active and most important ingredient and is designed to kill germs. Another important thing about ethyl alcohol is that it is only effective if the concentration of alcohol is between 60 per cent and 95 per cent.

If the content is less than 60 per cent, then it will not be sufficient enough to kill germs and it is pointless in using a hand sanitizer. Experts advise that it is important to look at the labels on the hand sanitizers before purchasing to make sure that you are getting a quality product with sufficient concentrations of alcohol.

Invention of hand sanitizers

Lupe Hernandez of Bakersfield, California was studying to become an RN. During one of her research in 1966, she found out that alcohol can be delivered through the medium of gel to provide near instantaneous cleansing in an environment where there is no time to find a sink and wash with soap and warm water.

How do hand sanitizers work?

You are supposed to pour a small drop of hand sanitizer on your hand and rub every part of the skin on your hands thoroughly. Only by rubbing it thoroughly will you get rid of the germs and bacteria.

There are two types of rubbing alcohol: ethyl alcohol and isopropyl alcohol. Both these types kill bacteria effectively but neither of them is effective on viruses.

The moment you apply the alcohol, it starts evaporating and while it does, it sucks out the insides of bacteria and germs and kills them. However, the bacteria or viruses won't be dead till all the alcohol has evaporated. Also, one thing that you need to remember is that isopropyl alcohol requires around 10 minutes of time on the skin's surface to kill bacteria, giving ethyl alcohol an advantage over isopropyl alcohol.

Hand sanitizers will not get through bodily fluids, dirt, blood or other grime to kill germs. Hence it is important to wash away these things before applying a hand sanitizer. Also, the alcohol in hand sanitizer has a drying effect, so it's a good idea to use some type of hand or body lotion after using hand sanitizer to avoid the skin from drying.

Since their invention in 1966, in late 1990s, hand sanitizers or hand antiseptics started gaining popularity and many companies started patenting their products. Since then hand sanitizers are found in almost every household today.

Tags :     hand sanitizers     personal hygiene    


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