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Are those alcohol hand rubs worth bothering with?

(22 Posts)
HeadFairy Mon 20-Jul-09 15:36:13

Both Boots and Superdrug have sold out.. I guess everyone's buying them. But they are antibacterial, Swine Flu is a virus. Is it worth buying them if they only kill bacteria?

angelene Mon 20-Jul-09 15:50:58

You're better off getting non-alcohol ones as the alcohol ones only last as long as the alcohol is active - about 8 seconds.

listenglisten Mon 20-Jul-09 15:54:00

I think there is a Milton one which is anti-viral as well.

We have been using them but with children, wouldn't you have to constantly apply it to be effective?

HeadFairy Mon 20-Jul-09 15:57:08

OH thanks for that angelene...

I was thinking it might be useful for after getting off public transport. I wouldn't normally bother, just take the swine flu hit and be done, but being pg I thought I ought to at least make an effort not to catch it.

I'll hunt out the milton one listen, thanks. God knows where though, there's obviously been some panic buying of hand gels!

scottishmummy Mon 20-Jul-09 16:03:14

tbh they are a short term measure when no access to water and soap.and ineffective used more than 5 consecutive times.

no substitute for good hygiene

angelene Mon 20-Jul-09 16:20:16

The non-alcohol ones (one in particular) don't need reapplying all the time as they last longer.

Agree that using soap and water is the best option though.

HeadFairy Mon 20-Jul-09 16:22:57

Thanks for that, it's funny because all the ones they have in hospitals have alcohol (I think, they certainly feel cold on your hands and evaporate pretty quickly) so I thought they'd be better.

Back to good old soap and water for me then!

Musukebba Mon 20-Jul-09 22:38:26

Influenza virus has an envelope that's made of lipid (basically fat) and so anything that disrupts this will significantly reduce infectivity. Hand rubs or tissues impregnanted with lipid solvents should be effective.

I would have thought baby wipes were pretty good myself. And yes: soap & water definitely the most cost-effective option.

thegrammerpolice Mon 20-Jul-09 23:06:19

Do alcohol hand gels have lipid solvents then?

Musukebba Tue 21-Jul-09 08:06:22

Alcohol is indeed a lipid solvent.

HeadFairy Tue 21-Jul-09 09:48:25

musukebba, that's very interesting. Thanks for that. I'm going to keep washing my hands though... Boots has totally sold out of hand gels due to swine flu hysteria concerns.

My boss came in this morning and gave me some alcohol wipes to clean down my office (we all share offices) so I've just wiped down the phone, keyboards etc... I feel I've done enough now. I could just disappear for 6 months, that would be lovely, perhaps a desert island somewhere, but sadly the 8.30 from Clapham Junction is about as exotic as it gets for me at the moment!

Kewcumber Tue 21-Jul-09 09:50:13

we used them camping - otherwise soap and water here.

ButterbeerAndLemon Tue 21-Jul-09 09:56:07

They are very useful for getting permanent marker off laminate flooring.

Not that I have practical experience of that, or anything... <glares balefully at toddler DD who is currently napping innocently and looking more-than-usually cherubic>

scottishmummy Tue 21-Jul-09 09:58:20

i have a drawer full of the stuff

squeakywheel Thu 23-Jul-09 08:46:52

Are people thinking that somehow you put it on and it stays on protecting your hands? It's not meant to work like that - it doesn't need to last more than eight seconds, only long enough for you to rub your hands together with it to clean them. If you then go and touch another door handle or lift button two minutes later you'd need to use it again. But it's certainly better than nothing if you aren't near soap and water or anything like that. You do need to do the rubbing together though, I think (could be wrong) that just coating your hands in it without rubbing won't do the same job.

whomovedmychocolate Thu 23-Jul-09 08:52:07

I do use these quite regularly owing to the lack of handwashing I see round me. Proper cleaning of hands involves the palms, the back of the hands and the thumbs. All parts of the hands need cleaning - people tend to wash their palms and that's it.

CoteDAzur Thu 23-Jul-09 12:31:28

I spoke to our paed yesterday, who treated the only case of swine flu in these parts. She said it is very contagious when you are near an infected person, but the one good news is that the virus doesn't stay alive outside the body long enough to infect anyone. Unlike the rotavirus that causes gastroenteritis, which can infect you days after an infected person has touched a railing or a toy.

I'm assuming she knows what she is talking about. If so, hand gels etc would be useless.

Am I missing something?

squeakywheel Thu 23-Jul-09 15:57:22

It doesn't die the second it hits a surface, so if the time between when you touch something and an infected person earlier coughed on it (or touched it with a hand they'd just coughed on) is short enough, it could still infect you. I think the time it survives on a surface is of the order of hours, not seconds, although I'm not sure how much of that time it would actually be working well enough to still infect someone.

dikkertjedap Thu 23-Jul-09 16:10:23

From the CDC website (best source if you ask me)at

Contamination & Cleaning

How long can influenza virus remain viable on objects (such as books and doorknobs)?
Studies have shown that influenza virus can survive on environmental surfaces and can infect a person for up to 2-8 hours after being deposited on the surface.

What kills influenza virus?
Influenza virus is destroyed by heat (167-212°F [75-100°C]). In addition, several chemical germicides, including chlorine, hydrogen peroxide, detergents (soap), iodophors (iodine-based antiseptics), and alcohols are effective against human influenza viruses if used in proper concentration for a sufficient length of time. For example, wipes or gels with alcohol in them can be used to clean hands. The gels should be rubbed into hands until they are dry.

blowbroth Thu 23-Jul-09 16:20:51

This was in the Guardian today which is interesting. It says soap and water are just as efficiant. here Hope this helps

dikkertjedap Thu 23-Jul-09 16:25:58

Thanks - very helpful - in search of Vicks first defence now!

blowbroth Thu 23-Jul-09 17:25:30

Glad to be of help dikk. So many times I reply to a post with what I believe is the definitive answer and no one comes back with a response! Glad to know you're out there grin

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