Hand sanitizers with at least 60 percent alcohol can help avoid getting sick and spreading germs to others. They do not eliminate all types of germs.
Hand sanitizer sales started to rise in early 2020 as the coronavirus spread. World Health Organization (WHO) declared the outbreak a pandemic on March 11, 2020. Health agencies everywhere recommended that people avoid rubbing their faces and clean their hands after touching public surfaces such as door handles and handrails.
According to a report published by the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), using a hand sanitizer with at least 60 percent alcohol can help avoid getting sick and spreading germs to others. However, it does not eliminate all types of germs. CDC states that in communal environments, after people handle food, play sports, work in the field, or go camping or fishing, hands may become very greasy or filthy. Hand sanitizers cannot be effective when hands are deeply soiled or greasy. In such cases, handwashing with soap and water is recommended.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recommends washing dirty or greasy hands with soap rather than using a sanitizer in such a situation.
Soap and water are more effective than hand sanitizers at removing particular kinds of germs, like Cryptosporidium, norovirus, and Clostridium difficile1-5. Although alcohol-based hand sanitizers can inactivate many microbes effectively when used correctly, people may not use a large enough volume of the sanitizers or may wipe it off before it has dried. Washing hands with soap and water is more effective as it reduces the amounts of all types of germs and chemicals on hands.
As per the science news website Live Science, hand sanitizers do not kill harmful chemicals such as pesticides or heavy metals, and they also do not work well on very dirty or greasy hands. If soap and water are not available, using a hand sanitizer would be an alternative to avoid getting sick or spreading germs.