Fight the flu by knowing your sanitizers

Posted: Updated:
By Christina O'Haver By Christina O'Haver

PHOENIX -- Parents, if you have kids in school, you probably have been asked to send both hand sanitizer and sanitizing wipes with them to school.

While it might be tempting to grab the most expensive brand name, Dr. Jeannine Hinds with JCL Arcadia Family Clinic says you actually should be looking at the back of the bottle.

“The proof is in the packaging," she said. "On the back of the package, it will tell you how much alcohol is in the contents."

Hinds says for both sanitizers, alcohol is the key ingredient.

“It should be at least 60 percent alcohol," she said.

Anything less than that and you aren't really doing any good.

But Hinds says when it comes to the hands, these sanitizers don't hold a candle to the best method of all.

“For soiled hands and for more effective cleansing, soap and water, traditional soap and water, is best," she said.

The key, especially for kids, is getting them to lather up long enough.

"You can help them by asking them to sing the ABC song, maybe, while they are washing their hands, because you should be washing with soap and water for at least 15 to 20 seconds," she said.

And you don't need to spend more on antibacterial soap either.

“We have not noticed it is that much more effective than regular soap, as long as you are lathering up and washing for at least 15 seconds," Hinds said.

When it comes to wipes, again, it’s not the name to look for.

“Generic is just as good, so you don't have to spend the extra money to be effective," Hinds said.

Whatever the brand, she says bleach and alcohol are both proven ingredients.

“We recommend one wipe per surface, because otherwise you are kind of dragging the germs along," she said.

Hinds says you can also save money on some expensive cold and flu treatments. She says if they work for you, great, but a multivitamin can also give you a strong dose of vitamin c and zinc, key ingredients in many high-priced items.

She also says be careful about over-medicating, especially with kids.

Lastly, Hinds says to remember that your best defense is still something that comes free with many insurance plans: a flu shot.

”We still highly recommend that people get vaccinated against influenza this year," she said.