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Commuting Bicycle commuting is easier than you think, before you know it, you'll be hooked. Learn the tips, hints, equipment, safety requirements for safely riding your bike to work.

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Old 04-23-09, 06:01 AM   #1
tnath0522
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Hand Sanitizer

It gets a little warm here in Florida and my office does not have showers. My post commute clean up routine consists of baby wipes, hand sanitizer and deopdarant. I should add I am a sweater. The hand sanitizer really leaves me feeling clean and stops the sweat. Just wondering if its safe to use had sanitizer all over my body?
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Old 04-23-09, 06:18 AM   #2
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Is it safe? Yes, probably, in a sense. Is it the best tool for the job? Likely not.

Hand "sanitizer", so-called, has to have a large concentration of alcohol to do what its name claims that it does. If you subject any part of your body to that much alcohol on a frequent basis, you'll probably end up with pretty dry skin, and it doesn't sound like a good idea on mucous membranes, but it's not going to cause you to drop dead either. I'm assuming, though, that what you're really trying to accomplish is to get clean, which isn't the same thing as sanitized. Human bodies, as well as other things, get clean by being scrubbed -- hand "sanitizer" is a convenience product that attempts to save people the trouble of scrubbing, but it ain't magic. Plain old soap and water and a towel will do a better job, or if that's really not doable, I find that witch hazel and makeup pads does okay. A lot of people swear by baby wipes -- the only thing I can say against them is that you're paying for the convenience, but it's your money.
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Old 04-23-09, 06:20 AM   #3
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I would think so, it sounds a little sexy though Just don't use deodarant all over your body
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Old 04-23-09, 06:39 AM   #4
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I'm assuming, though, that what you're really trying to accomplish is to get clean, which isn't the same thing as sanitized. Human bodies, as well as other things, get clean by being scrubbed -- hand "sanitizer" is a convenience product that attempts to save people the trouble of scrubbing, but it ain't magic.
To add to this though, it's bacteria that cause the "stink". In that respect sanitizer will be effective. As to the body oils and things that you sweat out, I agree you're going to have to scrub to remove..

I'm not sure that it's safe though as LBB said. Lots of alcohol.
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Old 04-23-09, 07:45 AM   #5
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Tnath, just pack a small hand towel and baby wipe solution (make your own using Google). Wet the towel with solution, clean, change shirt, and you're good. Works really well. I realize you didn't ask for other approaches but figured I'd share considering the other responses about issues with the sanitizer.
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Old 04-23-09, 07:46 AM   #6
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Hand sanitizer all over sounds like a bad idea...
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Old 04-23-09, 07:58 AM   #7
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Hand sanitizer dries the hell out of my skin because of all of the alcohol. I would never want to use it all over. I really don't even like using it on my hands.
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Old 04-23-09, 09:17 AM   #8
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Alcohol-based hand gel or foam is not designed for cleaning; it's job is to kill pathogens. Does a pretty good job except c.diff is not impressed by it.

My experience (based on thousands of useages working in a hospital) is that alcohol-based hand gel is much less drying than handwashing with soap and water. Many formulations contain lotion components.

Get some baby wipes or similar for clean-up.
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Old 04-23-09, 09:24 AM   #9
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the function of sanitizer is to kill bacteria with alcohol. However your body feels after you rub the sanitizer/alcohol all over it, you're probably not coated w/ malignant bacteria (that are threatening you, anyway). There might be something that gives you the same feeling that would cost less. Witchhazel or something.
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Old 04-23-09, 09:28 AM   #10
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Why did the song burn baby burn just pop into my head???????
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Old 04-23-09, 07:32 PM   #11
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You can absorb alcohol through skin... so be careful! You don't want to explain to your boss why you're tipsy on the job.
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Old 04-24-09, 08:36 PM   #12
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My office also does not have showers. I hide travel (very thin) towels and washrags at the office near the restroom with a very small bucket and small containers of toiletries. On arrival I head to the restroom, dunk my head in the sink and shampoo (WITH clothes on). That instantly makes me feel cooler. I fill the bucket with clean water, put a bunch of liquid anti-bacterial liquid soap (Dial) directly on one wet washrag, and take everything into a handicap stall to disrobe and do a powerscrub with the wet rag. I then rinse out the rag in the clean water and use the wet rag to sponge off with. By the time I finish, I have cooled down and feel very clean and fresh. I bring a complete set of clean clothes in my panniers to change into. At my desk, I hang up the towels and washrags as well as all my cycling clothes to air-dry all day. The towels hang up overnight and I alternate between two sets of them so one set is always ready to use in my cleanup kit (instead of having to traipse back to my desk in bike gear). When the weather gets warmer I'll probably alternate cycling gear also so I can sink-wash it and have clean(er) clothes to wear home.

I never thought a birdbath powerscrub would be viable but I am pleasantly surprised. I am very careful not to leave any traces behind - no drips or loose hair or other messes. Since I arrive early, the restrooms are generally in pristine condition from the overnight cleaning and only rarely does anyone else come in. The handicap stall has handbars -- safety in case I slip, and also more room.

Some people have suggested baby powder showers but I get slimy sticky and gritty on my 12 mile ride. There are plenty of hills, some humid/buggy areas near the river, and some sprint-scary intersections so "riding easy" to stay pristine isn't my thing. Good old soap and water are the best.

And the birdbath cleanup REALLY makes me appreciate the "real" shower when I ride home at night.

I do have some hand sanitizer but it's not for my whole body. It can chap your face which feels mighty nasty when you get salty sweat into skin cracks. Windburn is bad enough.
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Old 04-24-09, 08:56 PM   #13
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Good old soap and water are the best.
And the birdbath cleanup REALLY makes me appreciate the "real" shower when I ride home at night.
Just bring a small towel and a small facecloth ( or perhaps a sponge... although I haven't tried it). Cold water on the facecloth. Apply. Towel off. Very refreshing.
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Old 04-24-09, 09:17 PM   #14
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Or you could just hang out for a bit when you get in. Cool off. Enjoy the morning sunshine. Have a smoke and a coffee and then get to work.
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Old 04-25-09, 06:57 AM   #15
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All really excellent posts to a great question.
There are some concerns about alcohol absorption through the skin........keep in mind that this is isopropyl alcohol not ethanol (that we drink)-toxicities are much greater with the former....
Drying of the skin is probably not that much of a concern unless you are prone to this. Repeated usage (100 times a day) even with the skin moisturizer can lead to dryness..but once in the morning will probably not be a problem for most........but also the alcohol can be irritating to sensitive parts of the body - areas with thin skin or mucous membranes (groin areas to be vague).....

The bucket washing idea is interesting.

I am Uber, and I sweat a lot.........unfortunately there is no 12 step program for this......

What I do: bike to work. Make sure that I am clean and have applied underarm deodorant before riding.
Towel off and change into work clothes. In fact, I wear my bike shorts under my work clothes all day.
I love the feel of the bike shorts under my work clothes (reminds me of the ride and I look forward to riding in the evening).......I have no problems with b.o. or sweating.........I just don't feel like adding another 10-15 minutes of prep time before work by a ritual which is unnecessary for me.......I think the key thing is to cool off before changing into work clothes........
Everyone is unique and needs to find what works for him/her........
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Old 04-25-09, 09:40 AM   #16
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This may sound a little wacky, but it did the job for a co-worker about 10 years ago.

The co-worker kept a small piece of garden hose in his desk. When he got to work (earlier than most folks) he'd simple get the hose, attach it to the hose bib at the back of the building, and hose himself down while in full kit (took the shoes off for some sandels, though). It cleaned off both him and his cycling clothes. He'd dry off and change clothes in the restroom, and hang his cycle clothes up to dry in a closet (poyester, so they dried by the end of the day). Kind of odd when you first saw him do it, but it just got to be a normal occurance and no one cared. If I remember, his commute was 7 miles one way.
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Old 04-25-09, 10:14 AM   #17
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If you don't mind my 2 cts...

I wouldn't like to spend the money on or use hand sanitizer to wash up.

Different work environments and different climates create different techniques.

My favorite technique uses dr. bronner's liquid concentrated soap (in varied flavors and all natural), a pack towel (yes kinda like a sham-wow, wash, rinse and dry) and a cream deoderant (used at night and not needed daily).

I like the bucket idea.
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Old 04-25-09, 09:46 PM   #18
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The co-worker kept a small piece of garden hose in his desk. When he got to work (earlier than most folks) he'd simple get the hose, attach it to the hose bib at the back of the building, and hose himself down while in full kit (took the shoes off for some sandels, though). It cleaned off both him and his cycling clothes. He'd dry off and change clothes in the restroom, and hang his cycle clothes up to dry in a closet (poyester, so they dried by the end of the day).
Love that idea. If I could get by with using some soap [in a few strategic areas] and NOT having spectators I would be pretty tempted by an impromptu outdoor shower during the warm riding months. When it's really hot I'll be sink-washing the jersey/shorts at work anyhow.

I think the bucket I use is 5L - about the size of a big carton of ice cream.
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Old 04-26-09, 07:43 AM   #19
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Go to a sporting goods store and buy the Hoo-Ahh wipes, or something similar. They're like baby wipes, but thicker, tougher and smell better.

I'm lucky. I have a locker room to shower and change in.

FIN
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Old 04-26-09, 08:49 AM   #20
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It gets a little warm here in Florida and my office does not have showers. My post commute clean up routine consists of baby wipes, hand sanitizer and deopdarant. I should add I am a sweater. The hand sanitizer really leaves me feeling clean and stops the sweat. Just wondering if its safe to use had sanitizer all over my body?
I also live in a hot climate, although it's not quite as humid here as it is in Florida. Temps of 40 C (104 F) and higher are common here in the summer. Baby wipes, it seems to me, create too much unnecessary waste, so I keep a small wash cloth and a bottle of alcohol at work. Upon arrival, I go into the men's room, wet the wash cloth with cool water and wipe the sweat off of my body. I use the alcohol to clean under my arms. This kills the bacteria and completely eliminates b.o. I've had no problem with dry skin. Wearing ultra-fine Merino wool t-shirts and trimming underarm hair also helps.
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Old 04-26-09, 01:30 PM   #21
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Damn stuff burns in some areas haha. I'll let you figure out where.
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Old 05-01-09, 01:57 PM   #22
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or you can bring a washcloth and hand towel and small bottle of diluted shampoo - do a sink was with soap and wash cloth - even shampoo in sink with cup to rinse like a girl - make sure shampoo is very dilute or you'll be rinsing forever, then dry up and use deodorant, then change underwear, socks and shirt. you can stock the office but always bring the laundry home on your bike, which should be in plastic bag in your trunk or backpack away from other people. I think the alcohol in the hand sanitizer will be bad for your skin over time. btw: people don't tell when they don't like a a smell. you may be happier with a genuine cleanup - but you'll need a private bathroom, or arrive wicked early before anyone else. 15 minutes should be enough time
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Old 05-01-09, 08:54 PM   #23
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I love paktowls and I love Dr. Bronner's. I think I'm just going to try that for the hell of it. Minty fresh!
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Old 05-01-09, 09:58 PM   #24
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It can get warm in Texas during the summer and I am a sweater too. I'm lucky that our job has showers but I never have time for one or am willing to bring shower accessories. I take, what is referred to as a duck bath. I strip to my waist, wash head, shoulders and upper body and dry up with paper towels. I bring deoderant and some aftershave lotion.
I then change into my work clothes. This method hasn't failed yet.
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