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Hand-washing or hand sanitizer?

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Posted at 5:35 PM, Feb 21, 2020
and last updated 2020-02-21 19:59:19-05

HELENA — Pumping a little hand sanitizer during the day or a few times a day is common, but many health experts are now warning to not completely remove warm water and soap out of your routine.

Preventing the spread of germs that cause illnesses like the flu starts with proper hand hygiene.

"You should always wash your hands, if they are visibly soiled and you want to make sure you are using hand hygiene, whether that is hand washing, or if you are using hand sanitizer,” said, Jamie Seymore of St.Peter’s Health in Helena.

Going back to the basic’s proper hand washing, the Center for Disease Control suggests using soap and warm water and scrubbing for at least 20 seconds.

The CDC also recommends that you sing “Happy Birthday” as a way to ensure that you wash your hands for a long enough period of time.

The federal Food & Drug Administration in January of 2020 sent a letter to Gojo Industries, the makers of Purell hand sanitizer, about the claims they make about the effectiveness of the product.

Gojo Industries claims Purell and other hand sanitizers it produces are effective in preventing disease or infections from Ebola, norovirus, influenze, and other diseases - sometimes up to 99 percent effective.

The FDA said the claims go beyond simply describing the general intended use of topical antiseptic, and are unproven.

Samantha Williams, Corporate Communications Senior Director, of Gojo Industries responded to the warning letter by the FDA , writing:

GOJO took immediate action to respond to FDA claim requirements after receiving a warning letter from the agency on January 17. The letter was related to some of our marketing around PURELL® Hand Sanitizer on GOJO.com and through our social media platforms. It is important to emphasize that the FDA letter was not related to the safety or quality of our products, or our manufacturing processes. Our products can and should continue to be used as part of good hand hygiene practice, to reduce germs.

Our intention has always been and continues to be to adhere to FDA guidance while advancing and sharing the latest hygiene science to help improve public health. Uncompromising Integrity is a core value of our Purpose-driven Family Enterprise and we apply this principle to everything we do. It is our responsibility to ensure that we comply with all requirements of FDA regulations and federal law, and we take that responsibility very seriously. To that end, we have begun updating relevant website and other digital content as directed by the FDA and are taking steps to prevent a recurrence.

The CDC notes that hand sanitizer can be effective, but it needs to be above 60 percent, and it will reduce some, but not all germs.

“Before you eat or before you prepare food after touching high touch surfaces like our cell phones or shopping carts or handles, light switches, all of that stuff,” Seymore said.

It’s also less effective when using hand sanitizer if your hands are visibly dirty or greasy.