November 6th, 2020 by
Now that hand sanitiser has become as regular a part of our daily routines as drinking tea and brushing teeth, you will no doubt be getting through buckets of the stuff. As with anything that comes from nowhere to the forefront of people’s minds, it raises certain questions and, while we recognise the importance of it, can raise some concerns. Here are some of the most common questions, and myths, about hand sanitiser.
1. Does hand sanitiser damage rings and jewellery?
We’re all washing our hands. A lot. That means more soap and more hand sanitiser. Soap obviously gets rinsed away but hand sanitiser stays on our hands as well as any rings we wear. So, does it damage them? The answer is yes, over time it can. It won’t cause immediate damage but prolonged use over a period of time can start to break down the brilliance of metals and gems which means they can lose their shine. This is unlikely to be something you can buff back up later. Rings that have a lot of small gaps, such as any with a filigree detail or ones with multiple stones, can start to accumulate hand sanitiser in the tiny spaces and build up there. Though this can be cleaned out, the close contact of the hand sanitiser with the materials of the ring can cause damage.
The best thing to do is to remove your rings while washing and sanitising your hands and then replace them when dry. Easy enough when at home but not so easy when hand sanitising in shops and restaurants. Either give jewellery a good rinse with clean water every day or refrain from wearing them while out and about.
2. Does hand sanitiser stain clothes?
This is quite a common concern as anything on our hands is easily transferred to our clothes, as well as furniture, towels, and bedding. The good news is that most hand sanitisers will not stain fabric and any ‘marks’ caused will wash out in the machine or when sponged off. That said, most hand sanitiser does contain alcohol so if left on fabric for a prolonged period it could potentially bleach the colour out, especially on a delicate fabric such as silk.
Ironically, hand sanitiser can actually remove stains, such as ink, from fabric as the alcohol will help break down even permanent marker ink.
3. Does hand sanitiser dry your skin?
It certainly can do. Predominantly it’s the alcohol content that dries your skin. Hand sanitisers with lower or no alcohol content won’t dry your skin in the same way, but they also won’t be as effective against covid. People with sensitive skin or conditions such as eczema can be particularly affected.
You can a hand cream after sanitising to help prevent your skin from drying out, although this is very inconvenient for many people! To help mitigate this problem, some hand sanitisers do contain moisturising ingredients and skin conditioners. To save time, opt for ones that contain things like vitamin E, aloe vera, or other emollients which will help to hydrate your skin.
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4. Can hand sanitiser catch fire?
(Most) hand sanitiser contains alcohol and alcohol is flammable, so this is most likely where rumours of hand sanitisers causing fires when left in hot cars originate from. This is a myth; hand sanitiser will not ignite in this way. They would have to reach temperatures in excess of 350°C to spontaneously catch fire without some kind of spark. Of course, you should take reasonable precautions like keeping away from fires and naked flames.
5. Will all hand sanitisers protect against covid?
No. Only hand sanitiser that has an alcohol content of 60% or more is effective against viruses, including the coronavirus.
6. Can germs become resistant to hand sanitiser?
We all know that there are issues around the use of anti-biotics and that bacteria and viruses can mutate and become resistant to them over time. This is not true of hand sanitiser. The ethyl alcohol in hand sanitiser destroys the cell membranes of viruses and denatures the protein. There is therefore nothing left behind to allow germs to evolve and become resistant.
7. Does hand sanitiser replace the need to wash hands?
No, but it is a good second best if washing facilities are not available or practical. Hand sanitiser can kill germs and viruses, but it doesn’t remove dirt and debris from your hands, only proper handwashing will do this. If you have washed your hands thoroughly, you don’t need to apply hand sanitiser as well. However, when out and about, regular application of sanitiser will help your hands stay virus-free in between washes.
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