Hand Sanitizers Are Handy, But May Not Be So Healthy

If you’re attached to your antibacterial gel like it’s your childhood BFF, think about taking a break. Hand sanitizers are certainly handy—if there’s no sink in sight and you desperately need to eat with your hands. But most of the time, sudsing up with soap and water will suit you just fine (even preventing sickness more often than antibacterial products!). Recent research showed that soap and water specifically protects against the norovirus (an ugly stomach bug) more effectively than hand sanitizers. Healthcare staff who routinely used sanitizers instead of hand washing were more likely to experience vomiting and diarrhea symptoms from the norovirus.

Of the 45 long-term care facilities studied, over half that used hand sanitizers also saw an outbreak of the norovirus. So here’s what you do: Stock hand sanitizer in your purse for lengthy travel to mitigate germ exposure when you don’t have the chance to take a hand-wash break. But day-to-day, leave your sanitizer be, opting instead for good, old-fashioned soap and water. You’ll help yourself build up immunities and have a happier stomach because of it!

MORE: The Best Way to Wash Your Hands

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