We were watching an episode of The Office tonight, and The Farmer heard me say “I agree” about something Dwight said. If you watch The Office and you know who Dwight is, you’re probably laughing right now. No, I didn’t say we should grow a beet farm or purposely sneeze on each other’s food. 🙂 But I did agree that hand sanitizers are not good.
What do hand sanitizers do? They wipe away the natural oils on our hands. Those natural oils contain bacteria that are always present in our body. Those bacteria are not the bacteria that make us sick–they’re the bacteria that keep us alive. 🙂
Hand sanitizers dry out our hands. I took a pre-nursing class in college, and we learned about dry hands being one of the common ways bacteria gets spread. If you use a black light to look at the hands, wherever there are cracks or dry spots, there is always an accumulation of dirt and bacteria. Using hand sanitizer too often creates the very bacteria pockets it is supposedly trying to wipe out! It’s a perpetual effect–the more you use it, the more you need it. (Kind of like Caramex–anyone ever notice that? Or any Vaseline lotion? They always make you need them more, in my opinion :)).
Using hand sanitizers (and antibacterial soaps) often is like using antibiotics every single day of your life. Most of us know about the effects of over-using antibiotics: when we need them in an emergency, they may not work.
Our culture is obsessed with sterilizing everything. Food. Hands. Everything. I wouldn’t mind a surgery environment being sterile for obvious reasons, but our daily life does not need to be (and should not be) sterile. Our food should contain some natural bacteria. Our skin should contain some natural bacteria. We are healthier people because of our natural bacteria!
Hand sanitizer also contains alcohol. I would never let a child use hand sanitizer, especially unsupervised. Little kids have been hospitalized with alcohol poisoning just because they licked the stuff. Scary!
If all of this isn’t reason enough to avoid it–studies have shown that washing your hands with soap and warm water is just as effective, sometimes *more* effective than using a hand sanitizer. So yes, I agree with Dwight, at least on the topic of hand sanitizers. 🙂