Is hand disinfectant water-soluble

Disinfectants: Is Too Much Hygiene Really Harmful?

Whether the shopping cart, the handrail in the bus or the rest area toilet - in everyday life it is often downright tempting to have supposedly practical hand disinfectant with you. But do the bottles really bring more hygiene?

How do hand sanitisers work?

Disinfectants are used to reduce the germ load from bacteria, fungi or viruses. "They should render microorganisms harmless," explains Ernst Tabori, medical director at the German Advisory Center for Hygiene (BZH). How exactly a product works is stated on the product label. A distinction is made between the following properties:

Bactericidal: works against bacteria

Virucidal: works against all viruses, i.e. enveloped and non-enveloped viruses, for example noroviruses

Limited virucidal: works against enveloped viruses such as HIV or hepatitis C viruses

Fungicide: works against fungi

Disinfect hands: useful in hospitals

Most hand sanitizers are alcohol based. "Alcohol works very quickly and effectively when it comes to deactivating germs," ​​says Tabori. This is practical for hospitals or medical practices because patients with a weakened immune system are not additionally burdened with germs from the outside. "Nevertheless, with anything that is highly potent, you have to ask yourself beforehand whether it is absolutely necessary," says the expert.

Hand disinfection: not necessary at home

"If we have dirty hands at home, we want them to be clean - and that is not done by disinfectants, but by classic soap," says Tabori. It contains so-called lipophilic components, i.e. components that ensure that fat and oil are made water-soluble. Additional disinfection is not necessary. “Household bacteria and viruses are also easily eliminated by soap,” explains the expert. In addition, mild soaps are biodegradable and cheaper than highly potent products.

Disinfect hands: hygiene measures with consequences

Those who frequently use hand disinfectants will notice that the alcohol they contain dries out the skin over the long term and makes it brittle. “In addition, the means are often provided with colorings or fragrances. A person may have an allergic reaction to this, ”says Tabori.

In addition, certain strains of fungi and bacteria belong in the biological environment of humans. They are part of a natural balance that is destroyed by disinfectants - so microorganisms could develop tolerances against certain active ingredients. The consumer advice center in Hamburg warns that resistance to antibiotics can also be developed in this way.

You might also be interested in: Multi-resistant germs: The killers from the hospital

When hand disinfectants can be useful

Market research companies determine a high demand for hand disinfectants, especially during the main travel season. "In regions with poor hygienic conditions or when traveling where you cannot wash your hands, a hand disinfectant can be useful in exceptional cases," explains Tabori. Afterwards, the hands are not clean, but the germs are eliminated.

Another exception: caring for a sick person with weak immune systems. “In this case, however, the following applies: if a hand disinfectant is used in order not to contaminate the patient with germs, the family doctor will order it,” says the expert.

Surface disinfectants are superfluous in the household

Tabori generally advises against surface disinfectants in the household: "They pollute the environment by getting into the sewage treatment plant and destroying biological degradation organisms such as bacteria and protozoa." The Hamburg Consumer Center therefore recommends simple cleaning agents, for example mild all-purpose or vinegar cleaners.

also read: Cleaning without chemicals: A clean affair

By RND / Jessica Orlowicz