Get the Dirt: 7 Unexpected Things You Should Know About Hand Sanitizer

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Skip Triclosan
Triclosan is an ingredient added to products, such as antibacterial soaps and toothpastes, to reduce or prevent bacterial infection. It may prevent bacterial infections, but it isn't effective against viruses or fungi, and because colds and the flu are caused by viruses, it won't help you out there. While it's not currently known to be hazardous to humans, some animal studies have shown that it alters hormone regulation in animals, while other studies have raised concerns about making bacteria resistant to antibiotics.
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After suffering a hideous cold-and-flu season in 2013, I'm geared up and ready to fight this year. That has meant stocking up on cough medicine, making sure I bought some chicken noodle soup in bulk during a recent trip to the wholesale club, and making sure I've got my doctor and the pediatrician on speed dial. I've basically been following this list and checking things off one by one to make sure I'm ready. I also typically stock up on hand sanitizer, but a recent article has me rethinking the hand sanitizer addiction in favor of simply washing my hands more often with soap and water. It turns out that some hand sanitizing products fight bacteria and don't actually fight viruses that cause cold and flu. And those same products can lead to bacteria that are resistant to antibiotics. I knew that hand sanitizers aren't effective against everything, but I didn't know to look for a specific concentration of alcohol for maximum effectiveness. I probably won't be throwing out my giant vat of sanitizer any time soon, but now I certainly know what to look for - and avoid - the next time I'm shopping for a bottle of the stuff. - By Erin Whitehead

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