The Best Hand Sanitizer
COVID-19 has changed almost every aspect of our lives. Some of the most pronounced changes are the measures we are taking to stop the spread of the virus. Using the best hand sanitizer you can get your hands on is now a concern for everyone. Using it frequently and trusting it is no longer a luxury but rather a necessity.
As we have become more aware of disease-causing viruses and bacteria, thorough hygiene has become a vital aspect of our healthcare routine. So, what makes a hand sanitizer the best hand sanitizer? What criteria does it need to meet, and what do consumers and health care professionals need to look for? One glance at what is on offer in stores and online yields what may be an overwhelming assortment of options. But not all hand sanitizers are created equal, so finding the most effective solution does require a little more attention to detail.
How Does Hand Sanitizer Work?
Hand sanitizer is an alcohol-based gel or spray that kills bacteria and viruses when applied topically to your hands. It does this by denaturing or breaking apart their protective outer proteins, dissolving their membranes, splitting the cells into pieces, or destroying the cell’s metabolism. Hand sanitizer must be used as prescribed–topically–and in the recommended amount.
Using too little hand sanitizer will not effectively kill all viruses and bacteria. The best way to use hand sanitizer is to rub it into the skin while applying it, making it more effective.
How Effective Are Hand Sanitizers?
The effectiveness of a hand sanitizer is dependent on:
- the type of alcohol used in the formulation,
- how concentrated the alcohol is,
- how much is applied to the hands, and
- how long your hands are exposed to the sanitizer.
For a hand sanitizer to be effective, the US FDA, CDC, and WHO recommend an alcohol concentration of at least 60%. Isopropanol and ethanol are most commonly used in hand sanitizers. To effectively kill viruses and bacteria, your hands need to be washed with hand sanitizer for up to 60 seconds, depending on the formula. Under these circumstances, hand sanitizer is effective against 99.9% of germs.
Does Non-Alcoholic Hand Sanitizer Work?
While non-alcoholic products are available, they have lower efficacy and kill a narrower spectrum of bacteria and viruses–even with the inclusion of biocidal agents. Biocidal agents may also cause antibiotic resistance, unlike alcohol.
For this reason, they are not the preferred solution for sanitizing, and health organizations such as the CDC do not recommend non-alcoholic hand sanitizers.
What’s in Hand Sanitizer?
There may well be an infinite number of hand sanitizer ingredients, each company with their own recipe, but the primary ingredient must be alcohol. You will typically find ingredients such as viscosity enhancers, emollients, buffers, preservatives, colorants, and fragrances, along with alcohol.
The best hand sanitizers have moisturizing agents that will sanitize and moisturize your hands. The added moisturizer will protect your hands from drying, cracking–and in extreme cases–bleeding when hand sanitizer is used frequently.
The Right Alcohol Concentration
Some sanitizers do not have a high enough alcohol concentration. As per the FDA, CDC, and WHO, an alcohol content of 70% to 80% in hand sanitizers is recommended for optimal protection. If the alcohol content is too high, the hand sanitizer's efficacy is reduced because the sanitizer evaporates and dries out before effectively killing the bacteria and viruses.
Different Types of Sanitizing Alcohol
Another critical factor is the type of alcohol that is used in the formulation of the hand sanitizer. There are three main types of alcohol, ethyl, isopropyl, and methyl. They are all made up of varying molecular formulas containing carbon, oxygen, and hydrogen. Each is derived from different sources and has different uses; it is essential to know which alcohol types are appropriate for hand sanitizer.
- Methyl alcohol or methanol–commonly known as wood alcohol, because it used to be made through the distillation of wood. These days it is produced industrially and mainly used as a solvent. Methanol is too harsh to be used in any concentration as a hand sanitizer and must be avoided due to serious side effects when absorbed through the skin. Some manufacturers still use methanol, which is why it is important to know the ingredients of your hand sanitizer.
- Isopropyl alcohol, isopropanol, or 2-propanol is a common ingredient in disinfectants and solvents. Isopropanol is often referred to as rubbing alcohol. It is used as a disinfectant in hospitals and hand sanitizers; isopropanol is derived through synthetic processes.
- Ethyl alcohol or ethanol is an organic compound commonly used in hand sanitizer. It is the same type of alcohol found in alcoholic beverages and is also used as a disinfectant and an antiseptic. Ethanol can be made through a petrochemical process or naturally through the fermentation of sugars by yeasts.
What Is the Best Alcohol for Hand Sanitizer?
When compared to propanol, ethanol offers superior virucidal activity1. Ethanol’s skin tolerance is also better in comparison to isopropanol, making ethanol the preferred choice for topical antiseptic and sanitizing products. Ethanol can also be sourced naturally using ingredients such as grains and sugar cane, thus offering manufacturers the opportunity to forgo the use of harmful petrochemicals.
What Is the Best Hand Sanitizer?
The efficacy of hand sanitizer is based on many variables. Outside of proper use, there are a few things which will ensure viruses and bacteria are killed, and your hands are clean.
The best hand sanitizer:
- Has an alcohol concentration between 70% and 80%
- Is not made using methanol or other similarly harsh solvents
- Is made using ethanol
- Has moisturizing ingredients
- Is gentle on skin and can be used frequently
- Is sourced in an environmentally friendly manner
- Does not contain bio accumulative substances which don’t break down
- Has passed FDA regulatory requirements and is hospital grade.
Elyptol is an award-winning, environmentally friendly, skin-friendly hand sanitizer that kills 99.99% of germs. Elyptol is available as a gel, spray, or wipes.