Breaking the Hand Sanitizer Myth For Good
Being around germs in a metropolitan environment is a particular nuisance in the winter. I consider myself healthy and healthy thinking. I don’t worry about virus and bacterial germs in the summer when people aren’t hacking and sneezing around the city. I assume those are allergies (another interesting topic).
But I do think about staying away from germs. Some people don’t. You could be that person (like some of my friends). People I know think hand sanitizer machines you see in malls, buildings, and airports are to give the impression (to the public) that the government is doing something to reduce germs. Like propaganda.
So I wanted to reveal the hand sanitizer truth, and dispel the myth for my own sanity (and maybe yours). I wanted to put to rest what doesn’t work and what works as we enter prime cold season.
I could only do this with a real experiment, and not what I read (or Googled).
Habits for the semi-germophobe modernist
First of all, I’m not a germophobe (like celebrity Howie Mandel professes he is and is known for). A germophobe is obsessive about being free of germs. I imagine those thoughts take up a lot of space in a germophobe’s mind. It only occupies a smart space in mine. Being conscious of germs, I consider myself a semi-germophobe.
These are the daily smart things I do so I don’t catch a cold or flu:
-I’m self-aware of my (healthy and sick people) surroundings. And I go through many seasons without one single cold. It helps with daily productivity.
-I’m into cold and flu season prevention getting flu shots most seasons when I’m working in public settings.
-I eat onions and mushrooms, and drink green tea that I was told would help. I visit the healthy vitamin store and load up on daily zinc, elderberry and vitamin c intake.
-And I stay away from crowds. Not everyone even in today’s germ sensitive society (where hand sanitizer machines are everywhere), knows how to properly sneeze into their clothes or elbow. They cough and sneeze in their hands and then spread germs onto a public surface.
Germs can live for hours on a surface like a xerox machine copier, coffee machine, or a door handle.
When you’re at work or in the public, and you go to the water cooler, kitchen or public bathroom, you’re surrounded by these surfaces and hundreds of opportunities to get sick.
…So, I wash my hands regularly as advised.
…I keep and use hand sanitizer in the car and on my desk.
…I use tissues and napkins to wipe my eyes, nose, and mouth.
Most people aren’t naïve to think germs don’t exist. Too much proof for that. But how it is spread is a debatable topic. And how to prevent the spreading is an even greater topic for differences.
Preventing Germ Spread
I have many friends who tell me that using hand sanitizer won’t help. I agree to some extent. But I know not using alcohol and antimicrobial soaps and sanitizer will hurt. How do I know?
I put it to the test.
One season I decided that I would experiment with not using hand sanitizers at all. Completely different than what I did for many adult seasons after hand sanitizer came out.
I wanted to see if my friends were right who think hand sanitizers don’t work (and is all in my head). And put my mind at ease and any hocus pocus myths to rest. My experiment was like a high school science project where I would test and know the truth. And possibly get a cold (or sick) in the process.
The Experiment (a few years back)
I started by first putting germs in the winter time out of my mind. I touched public surfaces like door handles and railings, instead of avoiding touching them with my bare hands.
I dressed warmly with gloves, scarves, and hat when appropriate. I washed my hands like I normally would in the bathroom, coming inside the house, shaking people’s hands who seemed sick, and before preparing foods. But that’s the extent of it. No excessive hand washing. And no hand sanitizers.
That season I got sick a handful of times. I learned first hand, that germs on surfaces can cause a cold or flu.
The claim on the hand sanitizer bottle was good in my opinion. It kills most germs. It wasn’t a waste of time or thought.
Another winter season I rode the metro to and from work, not touching anything. The doors automatically opened and I was always able to find an open seat or hold the railing with gloves on.
That winter, I was sick many times even though I didn’t think I ever sat or stood next to anyone coughing or sneezing. I’m convinced it was in the air. Like in an airplane. An idea for the Lysol manufacturing people to create mini-spray cans. Just saying.
So the CDC I believe is right in saying there are many ways to spread (and pickup) germs.
What I Learned
But back to my experiment. Here’s what I would tell my friends who don’t believe in hand sanitizer:
First I love you guys! And for trying to convince me. I wish I would have learned something different than what my experiment revealed to me. But in your defense, I realize different people have different levels of immunity. Some people seem to never get sick. And some people never really notice when they are sick. Or pretend it doesn’t exist. It’s just part of life.
And some people work in environments where they are always around sick people (like a nurse in a hospital). They get the annual flu shot, but they are rarely sick because they’ve built up strong immunity over the years. And they know what I learned from my little experiment. Hand sanitizers work.
But I totally agree that not thinking about hand sanitizers or germs in general, is a worry-free way of living. You’re not preoccupied with what may not happen. But most likely those people did get sick every winter season. But if you don’t worry about that, it’s all good.