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Hand Sanitizer is NOT a Good Alternative to Hand Washing, Student’s Science Experiment Reveals

We have always been taught in school that it is a good idea to wash our hands with soap and water, especially before eating and after using the toilet. But the advent of handy products like the hand sanitizer has made it easier for people to skip heading to the washroom before a meal.

People no longer feel the need to wash their hands with soap and water because a few seconds of using a hand sanitizer already makes their hands clean. Do you agree? Definitely!

But a recent study by some third grader students showed that we’ve been wrong about using hand sanitizers as alternative to hand washing!

Jaralee Annice Metcalf, a teacher and Behavior Specialist at Discovery Elementary School in Idaho Falls, Idaho, shared a science experience done by third graders at the school she is teaching in. The teacher and her class did the experiment in their classroom using pieces from the same loaf of white bread placed in ziplock bags that are sealed tightly after gathering all samples.

One bread was immediately transferred to a ziplock bag and acted as ‘Control’. All the 17 students touched the second piece of bread that was later labeled as “Dirty Hands” as the children touched the bread without washing their hands.

Photo credit: Jaralee Annice Metcalf / Facebook

Some kids were asked to wash their hands with soap and water before touching the third piece of bread. Another bunch of kids were asked to use hand sanitizer before touching the fourth piece of bread. The last piece was wiped on all the Chromebooks in the classroom.After four weeks, it was surprising to see that the Control bread still looked fresh even after many weeks had passed. But this is probably because it was sealed tightly in the clean ziplock bag. The bread touched with clean hands looks similar to the Control bread. But the others looked rather alarming!

The bread touched by the students had plenty of molds. The one wiped on the Chromebooks was nearly covered with molds! But what’s really surprising (and rather alarming) is that the one touched by the students who used hand sanitizer also showed some weird-looking mold growth. This shows that using a hand sanitizer is NOT a good alternative to hand washing – it is still important to wash your hands with soap and water!

What’s a Hand Sanitizer?

A hand sanitizer is a liquid or gel manufactured and marketed as an option for cleaning hands instead of using soap and water.

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