We’re all experts at sanitising our hands, door handles and kitchen surfaces these days.
In order to quash the spread of coronavirus, it’s imperative to stay indoors as much as possible and to make sure we’re not accidentally bringing the virus into our homes by keeping our hands and surfaces clean.
But should we be buying products that claim to be sanitisers or disinfectants? And what’s the difference?
Disinfectants are more effective
The main difference between the two is that sanitisers simply reduce the number of germs on a surface, while disinfectants kill most of them off.
It’s all down to the ingredients. Disinfectants are full of chemicals like hydrogen peroxide that attack viral cell components, Alexander Aiken from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine told Business Insider.
Sanitisers, on the other hands, rely on substances like chlorine which reduce the number of germs on a surface without necessarily killing them.
While that sounds like disinfectants are the better option, it’s worth pointing out that viral load plays a huge part in just how sick you may become. Anything that reduces your exposure is great and that’s where santisers come in handy.
But sanitisers work faster
Then again, sanitisers work faster than disinfectants; it can take up to 10 minutes for disinfectants to do their thing.
We know that coronavirus can last on surfaces for hours if not days, depending on the material. We know, for example, that the virus can survive on metal door handles for up to four hours, while cardboard can shield it for up to 24 hours.
Remember, excessive use of heavy-duty cleaning products can have adverse effects
We know that we have to keep clean right now to stop the spread of the virus but the excessive use of cleaning products and hand sanitisers can actually lead to antimicrobial resistance in bacteria.
Writing for The Conversation, Winston Morgan, Reader in Toxicology and Clinical Biochemistry at UEL, warns that the sudden surge in hand sanitising and cleaning products may lead to an increase in super-strength bacterial that might put already struggling healthcare systems at even more risk.
‘When using hand sanitisers and cleaning products, treat them as you would a prescription medication. Read the instructions carefully, as any deviation can render them ineffective.
‘Avoid diluting or combining pre-prepared products with other ones. Only make homemade sanitiser and cleaning products using recipes from government sites with ingredients bought from reputable stores.’
It’s worth being concerned because antimicrobial resistance already accounts for more than 700,000 deaths a year worldwide – so once the immediate danger passes, it may be worth looking at how we clean and disinfect.
So, what about hand sanitiser?
Weirdly, hand sanitiser is actually disinfectant as the main ingredient is alcohol. But given how long disinfectants take to work and drying the stuff can be to your skin (your body’s first and biggest barrier to infection) and the whole issue laid out in the point above, you’re best off washing your hands with soap and water where possible.
Soap and water can dissolve the virus’ protective outer membrane, whereas hand sanitisers struggle to work properly if your hands are at all dirty.
Use it if you have no access to a sink (when you’re in the supermarket, for example) but remember to wash your mitts as soon as you get home – and then moisturise. Crusty knuckles aside, it’s so important that you keep your skin free from cracks that can allow pathogens direct access.
Coronavirus latest news and updates
- Visit our live blog for the latest updates: Coronavirus news live
- Read all new and breaking stories on our Covid-19 news page
- Coronavirus symptoms explained
- Find out the latest on which shops can stay open in a lockdown
- Who needs to go to work, who needs to stay at home and who is classed as a key worker?
Source: Read Full Article