With the necessity for hand sanitiser rising globally this year, the market has become saturated with a variety of different brands that make claims such as effective against COVID-19 or kills 99.9% of germs. While these statements are reassuring off the top, it is important to understand whether or not they are actually true. Thankfully, there is a way that you can assess the effectiveness of hand sanitisers just by reading the label. This article will tell you how to choose the right hand sanitiser.
The most important factor in any hand sanitiser is its alcohol content. Generally speaking, the more alcohol that a sanitiser contains, the more effective it will be in killing germs.
Alcohol serves as the substance that kills bacteria and denatures viruses, meaning it strips virus germs of their natural qualities by altering their molecular structure. However, this is not always the case. In order for this denaturing to occur, water must be present. Therefore, a hand sanitiser that contains 100% alcohol is less effective than a sanitiser that contains 70% alcohol. Water also evaporates significantly slower than alcohol and so a hand sanitiser with a good ratio of alcohol to water is best for ensuring that appropriate contact time for effectiveness in killing germs can be achieved.
The type of alcohol that hand sanitisers use is also consequential. Most hand sanitisers that contain alcohol either use ethyl alcohol (ethanol) or isopropyl alcohol. Ethanol is generally the preferred option as it is more effective and less toxic than isopropyl and, because isopropyl is made from synthetic sources, ethanol is generally less pungent and distasteful on the nose. It should be noted here that any hand sanitiser containing methanol should be avoided at all costs, as methanol is particularly toxic and damaging to skin.
Regardless of whether a product uses isopropyl alcohol or ethanol, it is likely to dry out skin. This can leave hands hard, rough, and prone to cracking. Therefore it is generally a good idea to search for a sanitiser that has some form of moisturising agent. Sustainably sourced glycerin is often a good place to start as it not only helps to reduce the harsh effects of alcohol on the skin, but also increases the efficacy of the solution by further mitigating the fast-drying effect of alcohol. Other options that work in this regard include aloe and vitamin E.
Depending on the purpose, hand sanitisers should always be used in either gel form or spray form. Many gel sanitisers use a thickening agent (such as acrylate copolymer) to stop them from running off the hands. Gels also take longer to dry out, increasing the amount of time the alcohol is able to work before it evaporates. Sprays are also a great option as, like gels, they also reduce the risk of runoff and can be more sparsely and evenly applied. The added benefit of sprays is that many act as a Multipurpose Hand and Surface Sanitiser, allowing them to be used on surfaces such as door handles, railings, and other high touchpoint areas.
Instant Hand Sanitiser Gel
- CONTAINS 70%w/v Alcohol
- Provides instant hand sanitisation without the need for water.
- Ideal for general use and in industries that require protection against the spread of germs.
Instant Hand Sanitiser Spray
- CONTAINS >70% ALCOHOL
- Kills 99.99% of germs without the need to rinse after application.
- Provides instant sanitisation. Easy and ready to use.
- Apply a small amount onto palms, rub evenly onto hands until dry.
To summarise, the most effective hand sanitisers contain a blend of alcohol, water, moisturising agent, and thickening agent (if in gel form). Generally, the higher the alcohol content, the more effective the sanitiser will be in eradicating germs – however, there are limits to this rule. For maximum effectiveness, seek out a product with between 60% and 85% alcohol as purified water is essential for allowing alcohol to work correctly and must make up a small component of the solution. For comfort, it is highly recommended that a product with glycerin (or other moisturising agent) be present, as this chemical helps mitigate the harsh effects alcohol has on the skin. It’s difficult to know the difference between a good and bad hand sanitiser. This article will show how to choose the right hand sanitiser. By taking this advice on board, you should now be equipped with all of the tools you need to know how to choose the right hand sanitiser.