You probably aren’t using hand sanitizer correctly


As the city reopens and physical distancing measures continue, taking every precaution possible – including wearing masks, washing our hands and using hand sanitizer – is more important than ever. 

However, many are not wearing masks the correct way (i.e. leaving it hanging off your ear or tucked under your nose). According to a new study published in the Emerging Infectious Diseases journal by the Centers for Disease Control, most people don’t use hand sanitizer properly either – and are using too much or too little.

While store shelves appear to have more sanitizer in stock now than a few months ago when lockdown measures began, prices have surged and it is tough to know how much you might need. Is it reasonable to keep an overstocked supply in your closet?

To help you figure out how much you’ll need in a given time period so you don’t overbuy, environmental scientist and recent University of Guelph graduate Jasmine Mah and medical student Łucja Zaborowska have built the Hand Sanitizer Calculator.

The online tool assesses your average usage, family size and time spent outdoors to determine how much you need to purchase right down to bottle size. It also includes details on how and when to properly use sanitizer, and how to make your own.

“If your household is one of the many with vulnerable family members, it is especially crucial to maintain access to appropriate cleaning products,” says Mah. “As Ontario continues to reopen, people need to go to work, but in many workplaces, it’s not convenient to wash our hands every time we touch something or interact with others.

“Many businesses that are reopening are now having to manage sanitizer supplies to help protect the public and their staff,” Mah adds. “That inspired Łucja and I to build a tool to help everyone navigate this time and help people plan effectively, manage supplies, and reduce the tendency to buy more than we need.”

The tool is the latest from the Omni Calculator Project, an initiative that aims to help obstacles in the way of making informed decisions – an especially useful goal during the pandemic.

The project is behind the recent Toilet Paper Calculator, which helped people determine how much to buy as toilet paper vanished for store shelves during the onset of the pandemic.

“We hope that having a better idea of how much to buy can really help with planning,” Mah says of the hand sanitizer calculator. “I believe that a way to get people engaged is to make everyone realize that we’re all navigating through this pandemic together, and buying just what we need could be of a big help.

“We’re all facing this unprecedented situation and it’s easy to feel flustered. When we are aware of our needs, as a community, it can help ensure there are enough supplies to go around.”




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