Does hand sanitizer kill bacteria and viruses?

Hand sanitizer is recommended to sanitize your hands.   However the bottles say, effective against “bacteria” with no mention of it killing viruses.

There are not a lot of data actually on how effective those sanitizers are against viruses. There have been some studies done over the years and the conclusion is washing your hands with soap and water is still probably the best idea.  If you are having a busy day and it is hard to get to a sink, then carrying a bottle of hand sanitizer is the next best thing to minimize threats.

In essence, a hand sanitizer makes your hands very inhospitable to viruses.  You put it on your hands and viruses simply don’t want to cling to it.  So it does reduce the amount of a virus that can cling to your hand but it does not kill it.   Alternatively, it also can’t harm you in any way.  But it is not an effective way to kill the virus from your hands/body.

At the end of the day, basic principles apply to avoid getting a virus. Avoid touching your mouth, eyes and nose as much as possible. If you cough or sneeze, cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve. If you’re sick, stay home and avoid close contact with others. Some viruses can live for hours on surfaces such as ATMs, doorknobs, even money.

So be methodical about good hygiene, all year long! Remember that the number of harmful virus cases will most likely decrease over the summer months because viruses just don’t transmit that well in the heat.   But in the fall and winter, we’re all going to have to remember to be extra vigilant with new viruses emerging like H1N1 and the Ebola virus threatening us.

This has also been confirmed by The Health Communication Officer, Directorate of Disease Prevention and Control in the Ministry of Health and Sanitation, Harold Thomas.   Thomas said that hand sanitizer kills 99.9 % bacteria and not viruses, adding that bacteria is different from virus.  Hand sanitizers do not prevent Ebola virus.
Speaking during a Media Orientation on Ebola yesterday at the Grassroot Gender Empowerment Centre at John Street,Freetown, he said the use of hand sanitizers is good but does not protect against the Ebola virus.

The Health Communication Officer stated that Ebola can be prevented by washing hands with soap under running water and the use of chlorine or bleach.  Speaking during a one-day media orientation meeting on the ebola virus, he said a lot of people don’t believe Ebola is real and not existing.  He said this type of Ebola is the Zairian strain and kills 9 out of 10 persons who have the virus . But says there are chances of survival if there is early medical treatment.

Thomas has advised people to avoid eating wild animals especially monkeys, chimpanzees and bats, including those found dead and also to avoid eating fruits that bats have partly eaten.   The Health official also said the virus is spread by contact with a person infected by the virus, direct contact with body fluids: blood, vomit, sweat, tears, saliva, urine, faeces, breast milk, sperm, vagina secretions and runny nose.   [source]