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Infectious Diseases A–Z: Does hand sanitizer kill flu and cold germs?
Washing your hands with warm soap and water is one of the most effective ways to prevent illness, especially during cold and flu season. Hand sanitizer doesn't require water and can be an acceptable alternative when soap and water aren't available. But does hand sanitizer kill germs? "It does if it's alcohol-based," says Dr. Gregory Poland, director of the Mayo Clinic Vaccine Research Group.