It used to be that soap and water was the best way to kill germs and keep your family from getting sick. Recently, all kinds of sanitizing products have come on the market and promise to kill even more germs and prevent the spread of even more disease in your house. But, with all these new chemicals, you can’t help but wonder if these new sanitizing products are safe for your family.
The biggest concern when it comes to hand sanitizer safety is the alcohol content. For a sanitizer to be effective against germs, it should contain at least 60% alcohol. As a comparison, hard liquor is usually about 40%. If a child eats the hand sanitizer, it only takes a small amount to bring their blood alcohol content to dangerous levels.
Because of its toxicity, it is important to monitor your child’s use of sanitizers. Be sure to always keep them in a safe place out of reach of your child. Monitor the sanitizer use so that children don’t ingest it by licking their hands before they’ve dried, and remind them that it is a chemical and it’s not safe to eat. If your child does get the sanitizer in their mouth, you should call poison control immediately.
Because of the danger of children eating alcohol-based sanitizing products, many companies have put non-alcohol products on the market. However, while they’re marketed as being safer, they may be even more dangerous to your family. First, they don’t actually kill germs as well as the alcohol product, which exposes your family to germs. Plus, because of the way they kill bacteria, they can actually cause bacteria to become stronger and more resistant to antibiotics.
It may be hard to believe, but in some ways germs are actually healthy for us. Just like vaccines expose us to a little bit of a disease in order for us to become immune to it, germs expose us to small amounts of disease and help us build up immunity on a daily basis. Sure, there are many things you don’t really want to mess with. You want to wash your hands when going to the bathroom and cooking, but if you constantly sanitize your hands (and surfaces) so that you are never exposed to germs, when one does get through, you’re more likely to get really sick.
You also have to remember that there are good germs. They actually help make the world a healthier place. Hand soaps and sanitizers can kill the good guys as well as the bad.
When used as directed, hand sanitizers are a quick and easy way to kill germs when you can’t get to a sink, but they’re still no substitute for good old soap and water. As long as you use them only when needed, and monitor your kids, they are a great way to stay healthy.