If you’re lucky enough to still have hand sanitizer, you’re probably using it constantly. Just a little squirt, many people think, can protect you from the nasty bugs that are everywhere in our daily life. But doctors and scientists have come to realize that hand sanitizers aren’t necessarily the boon we all thought. Using hand sanitizer too much may have dire consequences to our hand microbiome. Hand sanitizer works really well in killing viruses and bacteria. The problem is it also kills the good bacteria on your skin. But as research is still ongoing about what constitutes a healthy hand microbiome, it can be hard to determine how much sanitizing is too much. If there's a choice between using soap and water and hand sanitizer, the sanitizer should take the back seat. The CDC says the best way to get rid of germs is by proper hand-washing, which physically removes the bugs and washes them down the drain. Keep hand sanitizer as your "to go" cleaner when access to soap and water is not available. If your hands are visibly dirty, hand sanitizer can make a messy situation worse. Alcohol-based hand sanitizers do not remove dirt, and are less effective at killing bacteria and viruses when hands are soiled. So after participating in sports, gardening, or playing outside, avoid the hand sanitizer. The CDC also notes that hand sanitizers are probably not very effective at getting rid of contaminants from harmful chemicals such as pesticides or heavy metals. Soap and water is you go-ti here. If you’re at the office or standing in line and a sick person is coughing and sneezing close to you, your first instinct might be to reach for the hand sanitizer. But, chances are you’ll catch their infection through the air droplets you’re breathing in, not the germs on your hands.