A few months ago, antiseptics were added to a number of items that women keep in their purses and men keep in briefcases and car interiors. The reality is this: now when we touch any surfaces in public places, our hands involuntarily reach for the disinfectant.

Needless to say, it kills germs (including SARS-CoV-2). It is much more important to reiterate how to use it correctly: many of us make serious mistakes when using the tool. Below you will find a few mistakes with hand sanitizer and expert advice on how to fix them.

Most Common Mistakes When Using Hand Sanitizer

Here are some most common and most repeated mistakes people make when using hand sanitizer.

  1. You Are Using The Wrong Type Of Product

Not all antiseptics are created equal. Hand sanitizers or antiseptics contain at least 60% ethyl alcohol or 70% isopropyl alcohol-they are the ones that kill germs more effectively. According to the expert, before buying, you need to carefully read the product label to determine whether its active ingredients kill bacteria, viruses, all together, or none of the above. Avoid brands that contain methanol - they can be toxic if absorbed through the skin or if swallowed.

  1. You Have Hand Sanitizers At An Alcohol Rehab

You must keep an eye on those people who have an addiction to alcohol and are staying at a rehab center for recovery, as these hand sanitizers can act as relapse trigger for several addicts. These products contain 60% alcohol and there have been cases where people ingested hand sanitizer to curb their craving.

Thus, these products should be kept away from alcoholics or people prone to triggers. In such cases, the cost of alcoholism treatment will also get affected as now the person will have to get other therapies for relapse prevention.

  1. You Have Not Used The Disinfectant For Long Enough

We all know that it is necessary to wash hands for a few seconds. Well, that rule applies to antiseptics too," said Aaron Glatt, chairman of the Department of Medicine and Head of infectious disease prevention at Mount Sinai South Nassau Hospital in Oceanside, New York. Get some sanitizer on your hands and keep rubbing them for 20-30 seconds to kill the germs. 

  1. You Are Using Too Little Product

If you don’t put enough soap, you cannot clean your hands completely; the same is the case with hand sanitizers. People often think that one drop is enough. But, according to the epidemiologist, the agent needs to be squeezed out at least 2-2.5 centimeters. And if you are dealing with dispensers in public places, just one full push of the lever is enough.

  1. You Do Not Cover The Entire Surface Of Your Hands 

Any part of your hands that you leave without a product can contain particles of the virus. Therefore, even if you only touch the surface with one finger, you must carefully treat the entire surface of your hands (from the inside and back) to be safe.

For example, you take a pen with three fingers and sign on a receipt or letterhead. No need to wipe just your fingers - apply the product to your hands completely, including your palms, the rest of your fingers, and nails. Just scratch your palms while they're wet to get the product under your nails.

  1. You Store It Incorrectly

Follow the manufacturer's instructions and observe the storage temperature of the product, noting that improper conditions can affect product performance. Don't put it in the refrigerator or keep it in the sun. Antiseptics need to be stored below 40 ° C because heat can destabilize the product and render it useless.

  1. You Do Not Disinfect Your Hands Before Eating

Chances are you disinfect your hands after you put the grocery basket back in place. But do you do this at home before eating? Regularity is very important when it comes to disinfection. Glatt's rule of thumb is that if you want to bring your hands to your mouth, be careful and disinfect them again.

  1. You Are Not Careful Around Open Flames

Hand sanitizers are flammable; thus, you need to be careful. Several cases have already been recorded when people got burns due to careless handling of an antiseptic and its use near an open fire. For example, lighters.

After using the product, you need to wait for the alcohol to evaporate. For greater safety, avoid opening flames for at least 30 minutes after applying the antiseptic.

  1. You Use An Antiseptic When Your Hands Are Greasy

If your hands are dirty or greasy, then the antiseptic will not be able to be absorbed into the skin, which means it will not fulfill its protective task. In the end, you will feel that you are safe, when in fact, you are not. 

If you get your hands dirty, first wash them with water and soap and only then treat them with a special product. But keep in mind that when there is no sink nearby to wash your hands, an antiseptic can be a good alternative.

  1. You Prevent The Product From Drying Out

It is important not to dry your hands until the antiseptic is completely dry. Trying to speed up the drying process with a towel will reduce the effectiveness of the antiseptic — you remove it before it can do its job.

All antiseptics need a certain amount of time to contact the surface in order to kill pathogens. Yes, you will dry your hands much faster, but you will make the antiseptic less effective. You will again have the feeling that you have secured yourself, although, in reality, it is not so.

  1. You Do Not Follow The Expiration Date

It may seem obvious, but checking the expiration date is important for the effectiveness of the product - the active ingredients in the antiseptic will degrade over time. If you decide to use an expired product that you have at your fingertips just because there is no other, know that most likely it has already lost almost all of its protective properties.

So, essentially, you don't know for sure how protected you are. Bottom line: it's better than nothing, but it's better to replace it with a fresh antiseptic at the earliest opportunity.