For those techs who opt for hand sanitizers rather than soap and water, there’s good news from Elaine Larson, R. N., Ph.D., and professor of pharmaceutical and therapeutic research at the Columbia University School of Nursing in New York. She has conducted in-depth research on handwashing techniques and habits in hospitals and has found that handwashing techniques such as the traditional surgical scrub, where people take a brush or sponge and vigorously wash all the way up the arm, are not only unnecessary, but even counter-productive.

“It makes theoretical sense that if you scrub it’s cleaner, but many bacteria on the skin live in the crevices and glands. The more you scrub, the more bacteria you loosen that then drop out,” she says. Hence, Larson recommends abandoning the traditional surgical scrub in favor of de-germing agents such as alcohol-based waterless hand sanitizers. “You actually get the same or better antibacterial activity with a 10-second application,” she says.

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