Study: Hand Sanitizer Not Terribly Good At Fighting Cold Or Flu

Only a few months after the FDA said that “antibacterial” soaps containing Triclosan might be just as effective as regular ol’ soap, a University of Virginia study claims that alcohol-based hand sanitizers don’t really put a ding in the number of people who catch a cold or the flu.

The study — funded by Dial Corp., which produces its own brand of alcohol-based sanitizer — found a 42% rate of rhinovirus (common cold) infections among those who used the sanitizers, compared to 51% percent for test subjects who didn’t take any precautions. For influenza, the rate of infection was 12% for sanitizer users vs. 15% for the control group.

“We all thought if you used hand disinfectants, it would have an impact,” said the team’s research leader, who called the findings “very surprising.”

He added that these findings mean more research is needed into how rhinovirus and influenza are transmitted. If the bugs are spread via the air, as opposed to physical contact, then that might explain why the rates of infection were not lower among sanitizer users.

The researcher did point out that studies have shown sanitizers to be effective on cutting down the transmission of gastrointestinal diseases.

UVa study: Hand sanitizer of little help preventing colds, flu [Daily Progress]

Thanks to Tim for the tip!


Edit Your Comment

  1. Lethe says:

    I have to admit, I admire them for posting the results of a study that could hurt their own company.

    • Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

      Meh, was probably the researchers, not Dial. It’s a significant enough a study that if I had conducted it I would definitely want to be published.

    • wastedlife says:

      Dial makes antibacterial soap and hand sanitizers with triclosan in them. I don’t think I’ve seen anything dial brand without it. They commissioned a study where the results were that alchohol-based sanitizers are found to be ineffective. See where they are going with this?

      • GuyGuidoEyesSteveDaveâ„¢ says:

        The study — funded by Dial Corp., which produces its own brand of alcohol-based sanitizer

        • wastedlife says:

          I noticed that, but then was unable to find a Dial hand sanitizer on their website without triclosan. Looking at the Dial website today, the product listing changed, and now the only hand sanitizer listed has no triclosan. Strange.

    • eyesack is the boss of the DEFAMATION ZONE says:

      The thing is, the way I read this, there was a 20% reduction. I don’t really know if that reduction is significant enough to enable germophobes or the proliferation of resistant strains (yes, I know that alcohol, not antibiotics, kills viruses but the broader issue still exists), but it is a reduction.

      Of course, we’d see at LEAST a 20% reduction in the infection rate if people just learned how to wash their damn hands. Yep, you have to wash each finger. And the backs of your hands. For longer than three seconds…

  2. Maximus Pectoralis says:

    Perhaps this has something to do with the fact that cold and flu are both types of virus and the soaps in question are antibacterial (bacteria != virus).

    • Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

      They aren’t antibacterial. They’re “antibacterial.”

    • msbask says:


    • YouDidWhatNow? says:

      The alcohol in those lotions kills viruses pretty much as well as it does bacteria and other microscopic critters.

      There are a few problems though – firstly, is that the 1% that it doesn’t kill repopulates the area, such that you soon have a newly-evolved super strain that you bred on your own skin. Secondly, it isn’t clear that you don’t kill/wash off to the same effective degree with regular soap and water – the bonus there being that you aren’t conducting genetic engineering on your hands that way. Thirdly, as noted in the article, it doesn’t make any difference to stuff that has vectors other than direct touch.

      • Merricat says:

        “Evolving” only happens when the species in question has the ability to survive the stressor.

        It doesn’t matter how many times you throw a bunch of rats into a fire. The ones who survive to reproduce are never going to result in rats becoming fire resistant.

        It doesn’t matter how many repetitions you make, you are never going to evolve an alcohol resistant strain of influenza.

        • YouDidWhatNow? says:

          Not necessarily the same thing. No, you won’t breed fire-resistant rats by throwing them in a fire…but any microbes or whatnot that survive a dose of alcohol may actually have something going for them…maybe a slightly tougher/thicker membrane wall, or something. Hell, maybe they’ll come up with a way to metabolize it. Lab studies have managed to evolve e. Coli (I think) to metabolize something completely novel that was never food for them before.

          Same concepts that lead to things like MRSA.

          • Merricat says:

            I’m not sure you are getting it, alcohol in this application is exactly like fire. The stuff works by ripping apart the proteins in the virus, outside of evolving into a cellular organism, there is nothing a virus is going to be able to do to stop that other than the ‘don’t be there’ defense.

            Besides, haven’t you ever dropped a peeled orange into a glass of vodka and watched what happens?

            • YouDidWhatNow? says:

              Provided that it gets past the cell membrane in the first place, which was my first conjecture. Secondly, lots of organisms can metabolize alcohol…like humans…so that’s not completely out of line.

              At any rate, I’m simply not sure that the alcohol is as un-evolvable as you’re asserting.

              • Merricat says:

                Ok. So you fail biology 101, we are talking about viruses.

                  Viruses are not cellular organisms.

                Secondly, in order to metabolize something, you have to be a cellular organism.

                  Viruses are not cellular organisms.

                A virus is a barely qualified as living bit of RNA that reproduces by slipping INTO a cellular organism and inserting into the reproduction cycle of that cell. It does not have the complex biological processes that are commonly found in bacteria or other cellular organisms. A virus in alcohol is either immune or it is not. If it’s not immune, then you can repeat the experiment as many times as you want, it’s not going to magically mutate into a strand of nucleic acid that is immune. This is because, amusingly, the non-immune viruses tend to be the ones that have stolen a bit of cellular membrane from their host and it’s not actually the alcohol directly that kills them but the fact that they require that envelop to maintain their integrity and the alcohol strips the envelop away.

                In other words, in order for a virus to ‘evolve’ into being ‘resistant’ to alcohol, it would have to pretty much become something completely different and you only get elephants from mutating polar bears in the comic books.

                • Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

                  You haven’t yet addressed his postulate that the viruses could develope stronger defense mechanisms such as thicker membrane walls.

                  Fine, we get that you believe it’s impossible for viruses to metabolize alcohol. What about defense evolution?

                  And BTW, the rate analogy was terrible. That kind of evolution doesn’t occur that way with complex organisms such as mammals. There’s too much of our biology that is susceptible to fire than we sudden develop tolerance to it. If you wanted rats to evolve to be fire-retardant, you would need to expose them to levels of fires they CAN tolerate (at this point, hot weather) and then gradually, or centuries, expose them to more.

                  Simple organisms, like viruses, can evolve much quicker. There is less to change, and therefore easier to change.

                  • Merricat says:

                    Ok, lets address it then.

                    It’s patently absurd.

                    Yes, the cell membrane is what protects the virus from the outside world while it travels to a new host cell. However, it’s also what has to be ditched when the virus reaches the host cell before it can infiltrate and reproduce.

                    On top of this, neither you or him have responded to my point about the orange. Plants in general have incredibly thick cell membranes, and orange cells are actually large enough to be visible to the human eye. Yet if you dip a peeled orange into a glass of vodka, it does a reenactment of George Costanza in the swimming pool and shrivels up to a golf ball size. You aren’t going to evolve a cell membrane thick enough in a virus that simultaneously protects the virus from alcohol and allows that virus to spread.

                    Period, end of discussion. I’m sorry, but I’m not going to spend all day debating comic book-esque evolution theory. It doesn’t work in real life the way you two obviously think it does.

                    • HogwartsProfessor says:

                      That’s very interesting, and good to know that a virus isn’t going to get used to my sanitizer.

                      LOL George Costanza.

                  • thisistobehelpful says:

                    Viruses don’t have a metabolism. They’re not even considered really living by most scientists. They’re not organisms in a normal sense. They also don’t have membranes like bacteria do. They have to steal it from whatever cell they’re invading. They can’t develop a thicker membrane they’d have to find a cell with one and go in that cell.

                    Ok easier way to describe this. Viruses don’t mutate unless their cell hosts mutate. They steal all the stuff they use to reproduce from their hosts. If the host doesn’t provide it, the virus won’t get it. So thus, a cell host that is not “immune” to alcohol will not help make a virus that’s resistant to it. Alcohol is poisonous to human cells. If we sat in a tub of the stuff we’d die after it soaked in a little while. The only reason it doesn’t kill us putting it on our hands is because it evaporates without a continuous supply. This is why drinking does what it does and if we drink too much the alcohol will not be metabolised in time and it will just kill us.

                • dangermike says:

                  Viruses can mutate, though, and they mutate rather quickly. Supposing that the correct mutations might occur to affect its subsequent generations’ carapaces to be less affected by alcohol, it could be said that a virus actually can evolve traits that might make alcohol treatment less effective. The likelihood of such is wide open to debate but the possibility is certainly there.

                  • thisistobehelpful says:

                    But viruses mutate because of something present in the host cells they’re reproducing in, not because of exposure to things like alcohol. That’s actually why vaccines wipe out viruses but antibiotics can strengthen bacteria. Vaccines change how the host cells respond to specific viruses and the virus isn’t given a chance to reproduce to mutate as part of its infection. Bacteria will mutate because of things they’re exposed to not relying on things that the host is exposed to.

              • thisistobehelpful says:

                We could compare it to weak chlorine. Regular chlorine bleach will kill everything in just a few seconds including viruses. It doesn’t work like an antibiotic does targeting specific microbes, it’s like dipping the little bastards in acid (regular soap). Gets everything at once regardless of type but like the example of fire there’s no gaining resistance to it immediately. The germs on your hands do not become fire/acid/alcohol/chlorine resistant just because you spritzed some on your hands and they were missed by the puddle of death. If there are germs on your elbow and you don’t wash your elbow they can spread back to your hands.

            • Merricat says:

              PPS. Those e. coli. that ‘evolved’ into metabolizing alcohol. You do know the trick that the researchers used, right? They took a strain of the bacteria and inserted the DNA from another bacteria (Zymomonas) into it. There was no ‘evolution’ involved. It was a cut and paste maneuver that was primarily impressive because they figured out which genes to insert.

            • Bunnies Attack! says:

              OK, I must know, what the hell happens when you drop a peeled orange into vodka?!

      • headhot says:

        Virii and Bacteria developing a resistance to alcohol or chlorine would be like humans evolving to develop a resistance to a nuclear blast.

        Bacteria gain resistance to antibiotics because antibiotics mess with RNA replication. There is an ever so slight chance that a bacteria could have an existing mutation that prevents a given antibiotic from disrupting its RNA replication. Its friends can get wiped out, but the one with the mutation can then multiply with impunity.

        Alcohol, Chlorine, and other toxic chemicals don’t mess with RNA, DNA or any other biological process in the bacteria. It completely destroys the cell chemically.

        Its like the difference between a human getting ebola, which will probably kill you, but might not, or a human being dropped in a pool of lava. There aint no drug or mutation that is going to cure lava.

    • GuyGuidoEyesSteveDaveâ„¢ says:

      This had to do with alcohol based sanitizers, not triclosan. That was only in the first paragraph as a reference.

      • SkokieGuy says:

        +1 for reading comprehension! So most of us in this thread withdraw our posts triclosan = bad. (triclosan remains bad, just not relevant to the OP.

  3. PanCake BuTT says:

    I make my own hand sanitizer when I’m alone (Bruhahah-hahahah) ;o)

  4. goldilockz says:

    I will go ahead and use anything that helps prevent me and my family the horror of peeing out of our butts a la gastrointestinal sickness.

    • Zowzers says:

      Its called soap, and unlike hand sanitizers, soap do not contribute to the creation of “super bugs”. Hand sanitizers on the other hand will be the downfall of the human race.

      • sqlrob says:

        Umm, no.

        Hand Sanitizers are alcohol in gel form, nothing more. You use 80% alcohol to wipe down things in a biolab too.

    • aaron8301 says:

      Most gastrointestinal sicknesses are a result of poor food handling procedures. Ingest some of that alcohol and then tell me about gastrointestinal sickness. That alcohol is far more dangerous than some whimpy germs.

    • El-Brucio says:

      Eh, the problem is that stuff that kills bacteria and viruses in a lab doesn’t always get applied correctly in the real world.

      You may have used that hand sanitizer after you touched that doorknob to get into your workplace, but did you use it after using the copier? We touch so many things every day that others have touched that it can be difficult to use hand sanitizer each time.

      I still think hand sanitizer has it’s place in a disease-preventing regimen however.

  5. SkokieGuy says:

    Besides effectiveness, what about the long-term impact of having triclosan in everything. First, resistant bacteria, and just as important, the environmental impact.

    Triclosan breaks down in sunlight to Dioxin, that according to the World Health Organization (WHO), this exposure can cause reproductive and developmental problems, damage the immune system, interfere with hormones and also cause cancer.

    • GuyGuidoEyesSteveDaveâ„¢ says:

      Uh, this whole post had nothing to do with triclosan. This was all about alcohol based cleaners if you read past the first sentence.

  6. smo0 says:

    Alright… since this “craze” has been going on for the last 20 years almost….

    This: “The researcher did point out that studies have shown sanitizers to be effective on cutting down the transmission of gastrointestinal diseases.”
    — is what I thought it was intended for.

    Not common colds or the flu…. anyone with half a brain knows if you’re near someone who’s sick/coughing/hacking away you have a risk of catching it just by breathing the same air….

    when did that logic go out the window? Did people forget about this?

    • Brunette Bookworm says:

      That’s when I use them…like going to some outdoor event where there are portapotties to use but no sinks. I also used to use it when I worked in food service, just in case.

      • pecan 3.14159265 says:

        Every reputable pet store with animals of any kind will have hand sanitizer nearby. It’s just safer for the people and the animals.

    • Hirayuki says:

      When H1N1 flu hit and no less an authority than the CDC recommended using alcohol-based hand sanitizer in lieu of soap and water. Those gel pumps showed up in all manner of public spaces, including every other cash register and shopping-cart corral.

      I won’t touch the stuff.

      • Sunflower1970 says:

        Yeah. Me too. I was the only one in the office who wouldn’t take a bottle of the stuff to put on my desk when they bought us all disinfecting wipes and hand sanitizer in reaction to H1N1. (although I did take the Clorox wipes…)

      • Dallas_shopper says:

        Me either. I wash my hands at appropriate times. Most people will get their fingertips wet when washing their hands or will overdo it the other way leaving the water running while using half the soap in the container and working up a luxurious lather.

        Effective hand-washing to me is just as good as hand sanitizers, which to me are an enormous ripoff.

    • anyanka323 says:

      I worked in a grocery store during the H1N1 scare and never used the antibacterial stuff. I had customers who got bent out of shape because I didn’t use it, but they were older and not in the high risk group. Plus, people who are germaphobic for no rational reason annoy me. I did have a container of the Chlorox 4 in 1 wipes because they seem to be more effective.

      A lot of people’s reactions during the whole H1N1 scare seemed out of proportion in scale to their risk factor. I saw older adults who were wearing masks. I didn’t know if they had a pre-exisisting condition like asthma or a weakened immune system but if they were perfectly healthy, that was going too far. Meanwhile, most of my co-workers were in the high risk group and our only solution was hand sanitizer or wipes. We weren’t allowed to wear masks because it wasn’t customer friendly. Several people got H1N1 and one got written up. He said he should have came in to work just to give the flu to our douchbag of a manager.

  7. Duffin (Ain't This Kitty Cute?) says:

    Antibacterial stuff is extremely dangerous and really needs to not be made for public use. It contributes to these resistant bacteria we’re beginning to see because only the strongest bacteria survive to reproduce.

    • SkokieGuy says:

      And yet I still have doctors want to prescribe antibiotics when I have a cough or sore throat without doing a culture to determine if it’s bacterial or viral.

      “It couldn’t hurt” they say with a straight face.

      • thisistobehelpful says:

        I have to bitch and whine every time I get a throat or ear infection for antibiotics. After 20 years of getting THE SAME THING I’ve learned to recognize what a bacterial throat infection, especially strep, looks and feels like. And when I finally convince them that, yes, I need a z pack, it clears up almost instantly. Can we trade doctors?

      • dangermike says:

        That’s largely because the standard antibiotics cost about $10-20 for the full course while a culture will easily cost 10 times as much. Besides, if you don’t want some sort of treatment for the cough/sore throat, don’t take it to the doctor. Rinse and gargle with warm salt water (3-5% table salt by weight) or with a 1.5% hydrogen peroxide solution for a couple of days before going and you probably won’t need to worry about it.

        (as an aside, rinsing every day or two with a 50/50 mix of listerine and 3% H2O2 is a good way promote dental health and prevent ENT infections)

    • Nigerian prince looking for business partner says:

      Are you for banning rubbing alcohol and bleach?

    • wastedlife says:

      Triclosan are the antibacterial that is dangerous. Hand sanitizers that contain only alcohol are safe and do not contribute to resistant strains.

  8. PureRainbowPower says:

    Uh, no shit.

  9. Sunflower1970 says:

    My family stopped using any anti-bacterial soaps, hand sanitizers, etc more than a year ago because of the use of triclosan in it. It’s banned in the EU, and just can’t be good for you.

    I don’t notice us getting sicker less or more often than when we used anti-bacterial soaps. And I neverevereverever used hand sanitizers. I despise the way they feel on my hands. I’ll just go wash my hands instead. (sans anti-bacterial soap, of course)

  10. Damocles57 says:

    The slight difference between users and non-users of hand sanitizers could also be explained by the behavioral habits of people likely to use sanitizers which would also predispose them to other actions that would minimize the risk of catching, having or spreading germs.

  11. hymie! says:

    Am I missing something … or is the risk of infection in fact 20% lower among users of the sanitizer for both rhinovirus and influenza?

    While that may not quite jive with the claim (on my bottle of Purell) that it “kills 99.99% of germs”, it’s certainly a difference.

    • eyesack is the boss of the DEFAMATION ZONE says:

      I stole your thought – sorry! But yes, if you told a researcher that a drug reduced the severity of something by 20%, they’d be happy with the results.

      I really hope people out there aren’t hoping for the eradication of influenza at the hands of an overparanoid cubicle dweller wielding a bottle of alcohol gel.

  12. GuyGuidoEyesSteveDaveâ„¢ says:

    IIRC, Rhinovirus doesn’t mind alcohol, and can survive in it. From nearly two years ago:

  13. Naame says:

    I personally still plan to use these kinds of products. I never believed that they were as effective as advertised, but I do believe that they are effective at helping to prevent certain kinds of illnesses. I figure that some is better than none.

  14. blinky says:

    so a 20% reduction is meaningless?

    • shibblegritz says:

      This is really poor journalism, from the reporting of the original story to the rewrite here on Consumerist, and those of you who so easily follow the line should be ashamed of yourselves, as should the rest of the professional press which is just picking up this small newspaper writeup without any analysis whatsoever.

      Do the math. On its face alone, making the somewhat unsafe assumption that the numbers in the article are correct, the study appears to report a nearly 18 percent reduction in the rate of cold infection and a 20 percent reduction in the rate of flu infection, neither of which I would suggest are insignificant numbers.

      Having seen enough journalistic work in nearly 20 years in the press, I will guarantee you that the scientist, if contacted again, would say this article misrepresents his statements. I’ll hazard a guess to say that he was trying to say that they surprised to find that alcohol gels had less of an impact than their hypothesis would have suggested, but that its effectiveness in reducing infection is nevertheless clear.

      Regardless, if the numbers are correct, the stated reductions represent simply enormous savings in terms of medical care and lost productivity avoided. I didn’t do a deep dive, but one 2002 study I found estimates that the cold alone costs the economy $25 billion a year in lost productivity. Eighteen percent of $25 billion ain’t nothin’, folks. Another said the common cold accounts for up to 100 million doctor visits a year in the US. With primary care physicians increasingly burdened and the cost of care constantly rising, I can’t see how anyone could argue that eliminating as many as 20 million largely unnecessary doctor visits (seeing as how doctors can’t do hardly anything for the common cold) is insignificant.

      Yet the blogosphere is buzzing with this report, and I can’t help but believe more than a few people will toss their purell in the trash,thinking its pointless, and will end up adding to the cost of what is, with reasonable precautions, a reasonably preventable disease.

  15. says:

    “We all thought if you used hand disinfectants, it would have an impact,” said the team’s research leader, who called the findings “very surprising.”

    Why is this “very surprising”? Our body has an immune system and even if you have it on your hands and the viruses etc. get transferred to, say, your sandwich, the virus would still need to survive your stomach acid and all the other things that churn around inside you, then somehow get into the bloodstream and be lucky enough not to already encounter an anti-body AND remain potent enough to replicate.

    Yeah, very surprising that sanitizing your hands is not having a large impact.

  16. Onesnap says:

    When I started at my job the office manager asked if I got my bottle of hand sanitizer left for me in my office. I quickly moved it to my spare desk. I’m pretty sure I’m the only person at work that does not use the stuff. I’m tempted to e-mail the office mgr the link to the toxic dioxins article (and also this Consumerist post) but I don’t want to offend her. :(

  17. Anthrodiva says:

    Altogether now – it’s about POOP. Hand sanitizers (again, alcohol, not triclosan) cut down on transmitting fecal matter. Not viruses, e coli. Duh. Why this chestnut of a news item keeps coming around I do not know. Yes, soap is good, soap is great, but if you go #2, use some hand sani. What is this, brought to you by the soap industry?

  18. evilpete says:

    I find hand sanitizer is good for BO when you do not have have a opportunity to shower. ( eg: while traveling or camping )

  19. aaron8301 says:

    George Carlin explained this in 1999. The more you expose yourself to germs, the more immune you become to them. Your immune system is a better germ killer than any chemical. And if everyone becomes immune to this stuff, then these germs will have no hosts to live on and will become extinct.

    How do you think vaccinations work? Direct exposure to dormant or dead bacteria/virus. Then your immune system learns how to kill it on its own.

    Instead, the population uses these chemicals which kill most of the germs, and the remaining germs then adapt and become stronger and harder for our immune systems to kill.

    Humans didn’t always have soap and sanitizers, but we’ve managed to grow to 6,700,000,000 people over the course of a few thousand years.

    • Merricat says:

      Things that die in alcohol are never going to ‘evolve’ into something that doesn’t die in alcohol. There are plenty of types of things that one can do to a germ that will fuck it up that it can grow into learning how to defeat. This is because most of them interfere with this or that metabolic process in the organism. But alcohol is not one of them. Alcohol doesn’t inhibit metabolic processes. Alcohol doesn’t block receptors. Alcohol rips the fucking proteins into little bitty pieces. It is liquid fire, and it burns the organism down to it’s component parts if applied in sufficient quantities and over sufficient time.

      Viruses have about as much chance of ‘evolving’ to beat that as you or I have a chance of creating a super race of rats by repeatedly throwing bags of them into a furnace and pulling them out after 30 seconds to breed the ones left living.

      The origin story of DC’s Doomsday has about as much scientific basis to it.

    • Nigerian prince looking for business partner says:

      I think you’d be hard pressed to find any study that is against soap and basic hygiene practices.

    • thisistobehelpful says:

      Maybe you haven’t actually checked out how we got to numbers that big. Most of it was sheer luck. Many plagues almost wiped out humanity. When people finally realized that washing between CORPSES and live surgery cut down on the number of deaths and that BATHING helped you stay healthier you’ll realize that the only reason we made it to almost 7b people is because of soap.

    • thisistobehelpful says:

      You also don’t vaccinate against bacteria. At all.

  20. Levk says:

    Umm.. I always knew hand sanitizer could not prevent flu its an air transmitted virus. I just use hand san when people cough or sneeze and after potty break ^^

  21. Guppy06 says:

    The linked-to article only mentions “alcohol,” not whether it’s ethanol (e.g. beer) or isopropanol (rubbing alcohol).

  22. headhot says:

    Virii and Bacteria developing a resistance to alcohol or chlorine would be like humans evolving to develop a resistance to a nuclear blast.

    Bacteria gain resistance to antibiotics because antibiotics mess with RNA replication. There is an ever so slight chance that a bacteria could have an existing mutation that prevents a given antibiotic from disrupting its RNA replication. Its friends can get wiped out, but the one with the mutation can then multiply with impunity.

    Alcohol, Chlorine, and other toxic chemicals don’t mess with RNA, DNA or any other biological process in the bacteria. It completely destroys the cell chemically.

    Its like the difference between a human getting ebola, which will probably kill you, but might not, or a human being dropped in a pool of lava. There aint no drug or mutation that is going to cure lava.

    • sqlrob says:

      “Bacteria gain resistance to antibiotics because antibiotics mess with RNA replication.”

      Umm, no.

      Some stop cell wall replication
      Some stop ion pumps
      Some are ion pumps

  23. headhot says:

    Is any one else amazed at how few people understand resistance in bacteria? Not every action that kills bacteria creates a resistance. It the bacteria is attacked chemically, there is not mutation thats going to make it resistant.

    Oh, and I’m not an expert, but I don’t think virii gain resistance. I think the replicate by hijacking the host’s cells DNA replication.

  24. u1itn0w2day says:

    I’m more worried about the sanitizer residue everyone uses and leaves with all those expired/used up germ fighting chemicals than I am killing those evil germs.

  25. Laines says:

    The only reason I carry one of those little bottles (exactly the one pictured) is to use it on my car door key in the winter. Pops a frozen lock in seconds.

  26. Sarcastico says:

    If your hand sanitizer is not preventing colds and flu, then you aren’t snorting it correctly.

  27. Ben says:

    Seems like that would be a statistically significant effect unless their sample size was just horrendous. The effect size isn’t that remarkable, but it doesn’t seem like the interpretation of “not terribly good” is accurate. I need to look at the original research article, though.

  28. Dallas_shopper says:

    No surprise there. I laugh at people who use those things several times a day. All they get from them is dry skin.

  29. snowmentality says:

    Hand sanitizer is better than nothing. But it doesn’t replace handwashing. If you can wash your hands with soap, do so.

    The linked article says alcohol rubs are more effective than antibacterial soap for some purposes, but the full report — available at — notes that you have to apply a LOT of alcohol for this to be true. If your hands are dry after rubbing together for 10-15 seconds, you didn’t apply enough alcohol, which describes how most people use hand sanitizer.