Cult items may come and go but there is one that appears intent on sticking around. With vaccination envy in the air this year, Madonna was spotted waving a bottle in Malawi and young children supposedly getting high on it – we investigate the phenomena that is hand sanitizer and the new sterile souls.
The year of hand sanitizer and the smug germ-free
If an alien were to land in an office/plane/use public transport – they would immediately notice thousands of people (complete with self-righteous looks) rubbing their hands together whilst pouring clear liquid onto their palms. Yes – the cult of hand-sanitizer and living a germ-free existence has entered into the public domain, and unlike the germs it attempts to rid the world of, it appears it’s going nowhere fast.
Madonna spotted in Malawi with what appears to be a bottle of hand sanitizer (Sky News).
Fuelling paranoia about personal cleanliness that has been termed HSOCD (hand sanitizer obsessive compulsive disorder) society is morphing into a scene reminiscent of the film Bridget Jones – hold on, I’ll explain. The ‘smug marrieds‘ appear to have been replaced by the ‘smug germ free‘ – a group of people who refuse to hold door handles, go anywhere without a bottle of the germ-destroying stuff and who cannot understand why anyone would leave the house without disinfectant wipes.
Hand sanitizers work by creating a smug layer of, “I’m so clean, look at me” to a user’s hands – seriously they function by stripping away the outer layer of oil on the skin. Sales of these products have soared by up to 80% in the past two years according to the Cosmetic Toiletry & Perfumery Association.
Most hand sanitizer is 62 percent alcohol – more than most vodka, which averages about 40 percent alcohol. The high concentration, say the manufacturers, is needed to kill germs. Some brands contain more than 60 per cent alcohol – the website YouTube is literally awash (ahem) with videos of students drinking the hand gel or lighting it on fire for kicks.
Products such as Frais are the natural alternative to chemical based hand sanitizers and contain a gentler sugar-cane alcohol. They have become cult accessories for the eco-conscious.
Along with chap stick and nose spray addicts – we’re hoping 2010 washes it’s hands of the smug-germ free and those sterile souls.
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