A government agency wants to know more about how safe your hand sanitizer actually is

The FDA wants to know more about your hand sanitizer.

The agency is asking companies that make hand sanitizer for more information about how safe and effective they are. That’s not because the FDA thinks they’re categorically unsafe, but just because they’re being used so much that there might be some unknown side effects.

Ideally, when you have dirty hands, it’s best to use soap and water to wash them. Hand sanitizers that are more than 60% alcohol kill about the same amount of germs as soap and water do. But, because hand sanitizer gels aren’t rinsed off with water, whatever active chemicals are getting used to kill the germs stay on your hands once the alcohol evaporates.

That’s what the FDA wants to know more about: Do these ingredients, when used daily, have any negative effects on the people using them?

“It’s our responsibility to determine whether these products are safe and effective so that consumers can be confident when using them on themselves and their families multiple times a day,” FDA director Janet Woodcock said. “To do that, we must fill the gaps in scientific data on certain active ingredients.

Looking for the best way to keep your hands relatively germ-free? Follow these hand-washing steps, courtesy of the WHO:

  • Wet hands with water
  • Grab enough soap to cover all surfaces of your hands
  • Rub palm-to-palm
  • Rub your right palm over the back of your left hand, interlacing fingers, then do the reverse
  • Rub your hands palm-to-palm with interlaced fingers
  • Rub the backs of your fingers against the opposite palm so that your hands are interlocked
  • Rub your left thumb in your right palm, and then do the reverse
  • Get your fingertips in there too, by rubbing your right-hand fingers against your left palm, then doing the reverse
  • Rinse, dry, and you’re done!

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