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HAND-SANITIZER: The American Sign Language (ASL) sign for "hand sanitizer"

Also see WASH

Topic: Hand sanitizer:

We are "highly recommending" people to wear masks and use hand sanitizer. What is the sign for sanitizer? Do I do a pump action and then rub my hands?

There is not "one" specific best sign for hand sanitizer. Most versions look like the mimed action of dispensing the sanitizer and then applying it to your hands.

The sign for hand sanitizer varies but a common way is to do a pumping or squeezing movement (as if pumping or squeezing sanitizer onto your hands) and then rub the hands together as if washing them.   If you are in a low context environment you may wish to add more details such as spelling the word "sanitizer," pointing to an actual sanitizer product, and/or describing the specific type of container (pump or other).

It seems to me that during times of widespread viral or bacterial illness --  this sign might evolve more and more toward the index finger pump version instead of the squeeze version due to the gravitation toward "industrial sized" bottles of hand sanitizer (which come in large bottles rather than convenient little squirt bottles) to handle the sheer volume of use.

I would suggest as well that the way the sign is first signed at the beginning of a press conference will be more elaborate than near the end of a 2-hour press conference with repeated usage.

However, due to the pandemic the focus is often on the "sanitizing of the hands" and thus the sign often overlaps with the general sign of "wash hands." As in: "squirt something on and rub it all over your hands (as if you were washing." It is thus context, the type of squirting, perhaps mouthing, and fingerspelling that allow us to become more and more precise as to our specific meaning.



Also of related interest: The concept of "sanitizer" is actually larger than just "hand sanitizer." "A substance used to make something clean and hygienic." (Source: Lexico).

For a few samples of people signing hand sanitizer, see:  at 1:48


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