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Many people wash their hands before eating a meal or after shaking hands; it's a hygienic practice in many cultures around the world. After all, regularly ridding your hands of germs and bacteria can keep you from catching a cold or something worse. Another option has gained popularity in recent decades, for those times when we aren't near a sink: hand sanitizer. But is this pocket cleanser really as effective as hand-washing?

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1. Who Invented Hand Sanitizer?

The most common form of hand sanitizer, a gel-based formula, is thought to have been invented by a student nurse named Lupe Hernandez in Bakersfield, California, as an accessible alternative to washing. In 1988, a company called GOJO created Purell and perfected the formula that we typically use today.

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