How It Works: Cleaning Hands with Hand Sanitizer - Minnesota Dept. of Health

How It Works: Cleaning Hands with Waterless Hand Sanitizer

Components to cleaning hands with waterless hand sanitizers (also known as handrubs), the proper technique, and how hand sanitizers work.

Download PDF version formatted for print:
How It Works: Cleaning Hands with Waterless Hand Sanitizer (PDF)

On this page:
How it works


Two components

  1. Waterless hand sanitizer
  2. Friction


Four steps:

  1. Make sure all organic matter is removed from hands.
    All visible organic matter (for example: dirt) must be removed from hands prior to applying waterless hand sanitizer.
  2. Apply a dime sized amount of waterless hand sanitizer to the palm of one hand or use a waterless hand sanitizer wipe.
  3. Rub hands together covering all surfaces of hands and fingers.
  4. Rub until waterless hand sanitizer is absorbed.

How it works:

  • Waterless hand sanitizer provides several advantages over hand washing with soap and water. However, they are not effective if organic matter (dirt, food, or other material) is visible on hands.
  • Benefits of waterless hand sanitizer:
    • require less time than hand washing
    • act quickly to kill microorganisms on hands
    • are more accessible than sinks
    • reduce bacterial counts on hands
    • do not promote antimicrobial resistance
    • are less irritating to skin than soap and water
    • some can even improve condition of skin

Updated Monday, 25-Nov-2019 15:39:33 CST