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How Much Hand Sanitizer Should You Use?

Woman Applying Hand SanitizerThere is no question that hand hygiene awareness is “an important part of the U.S. response to the international emergence of COVID-19,” according to the Center for Disease Control (CDC). “Practicing hand hygiene, which includes the use of alcohol-based hand rub (ABHR) or handwashing, is a simple yet effective way to prevent the spread of pathogens and infections in healthcare settings.”

A new study published in The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences finds that beyond coughs or sneezes, just talking could dispense thousands of miniscule droplets that can remain suspended in the air for between eight to 14 minutes. This, according to The New York Times “could help explain how people with mild or no symptoms may infect others in close quarters such as offices, nursing homes, cruise ships and other confined spaces.”

So how many pumps of the spray dispenser is enough to make sure you’re adequately covered? How much should pour into your hands? Faced with a global pandemic that has taken such a devastating toll on the nation’s health, economy and psychological well-being, it is tempting to think that more is best to stave off the disease.

A random check of hand sanitizer labels finds such vague directions for use as: “Spray on palm and rub hands together.” Others may recommend “a dime-sized drop.”

New research recommends users apply half a teaspoon of sanitizer (or more for those with medium-to-large-sized hands). To be effective, the sanitizer needs to be in contact with the hands for between 10-15 seconds.

The CDC “does not have a recommended alternative to hand rub products with greater than 60 percent ethanol or 70 percent isopropanol,” according to its guidelines. “Unless hands are visibly soiled,” the CDC recommends, “an alcohol-based hand rub is preferred over soap and water.”