As many a student across campus knows, illness and disease can spread like a wildfire. If you were to walk into any classroom larger than 100 people in size, chances are that you’ll hear a symphony of coughing and people hacking up lungs all around you. Now, what I’ve overheard many a person on campus call “Penn State Plague,” is sweeping the campus, there are two simple ways that it can be prevented. These happen to be, washing your hands and using hand sanitizer.
While washing your hands seems like a relatively simple task, not too many people seem to do it properly. Only 5% of people wash their hands correctly, leaving the majority of people washing their hands incorrectly (Jaslow). People have been known to run their hands under water without soap, or completely avoid cleaning up after themselves at all. Yet one of the biggest problems is the fact that people are not washing their hands for a long enough time period. The recommended time is that of “20 seconds … singing the “Happy Birthday” song twice” (Jaslow).
We as a whole live in a society that is forever on the go, so what exactly do those who can’t spare the “20 seconds” to wash their hands, do? Well this, my friends, is where the handy Hand Sanitizer comes into play. Hand Sanitizer is basically an alcohol-based product that is supposed to kill bacteria on your hands (Jaslow). Most leading products state that they kill 99.9% of all bacteria. 99.9% seems like a great number…until you get more information on the product.
This 99.9% turns out to be more of a cover than the full truth. According to About Biology, these products are tested on “inanimate surfaces” instead of a hand itself. On these inanimate surfaces, they were able to kill 99.9% of bacteria, but without testing it on the human hand, there is no way to claim that these products will accurately kill germs on your own two hands (Bailey).
So what is your safest bet? Should you dance around in the communal bathrooms singing Happy Birthday to yourself two times, every time you need to wash your hands, or simply use hand sanitizer? The Connecticut Department of Public Health states, “Washing your hands with soap and water is the best defense against germs.”
So ultimately, your best bet is to wash your hands and sing that song. Yet we all know that sometimes if you sneeze twelve times during a test, you can’t get up to wash your hands every single time. So to compensate, the second best thing is to use hand sanitizer. In order for the sanitizer to be effective, it would have to be made up of at least 60% alcohol, but it really won’t be beneficial to you if your hands have visible dirt on them (“Hand Sanitizers…”). So the choice is yours, but remember not to be fooled by labels that tell you they’ll kill pretty much all of the bacteria, because it might kill that bacteria but not so much on the areas you might think it will.
Bailey, Regina. “Do Hand Sanitizers Work Better Than Soap and Water?”About. About Group, n.d. Web. 18 Sept. 2014.
“Hand Sanitizers: Advice for Using Gels, Foams and Wipes.” (n.d.): n. pag. Connecticut Department of Public Health, Sept. 2012. Web.
Harper, Elly Pretzel And Jane. Which Soap Is Best? – Minnesota Dept of Health (n.d.): n. pag. Minnesota Dept of Health. Web. 18 Sept. 2014.
Jaslow, Ryan. “95 Percent of People Wash Their Hands Improperly: Are You One of Them?” CBSNews. CBS Interactive, 12 June 2013. Web. 18 Sept. 2014.