My First Experience With Purell

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Photo by Simsala111 / CC BY-SA (

I wrote recently about the time I met a four star general. That wasn’t the only first I experienced on my graduation trip to DC. One of the other firsts was Purell.

We were riding on the bus from Ottawa to DC. It was a coach and had a bathroom. Coach bathrooms didn’t have water for washing your hands so you had to rely on either baby wipes or “Wet Ones”. It never seemed like your hands were truly clean after wiping them and there was some relief after finally getting to a rest stop.

But on that trip, my mother packed for me (yes, she still packed lunches for me in high school) a small bottle of Purell. I remember the odd feeling of squeezing out the gel onto my hands and the cooling sensation as I rubbed it on my hands. This Purell was watermelon flavour and it smelled up our bus like a boozy cocktail. I remember being a bit doubtful that it could be antimicrobial.

While Purell felt more effective than a wet nap, it still took a good hand rinsing before I could feel “clean”. I may be remembering incorrectly, but the earlier formulations seems to leave a film after the alcohol evaporating. Washing that off with soap and water felt doubly reassuring.

For a long time, hand sanitizer was an after thought and now it’s on the main stage, being hoarded with toilet paper. Maybe it’s also time for some new antimicrobial methods.

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