Coronavirus Updates

A Quick Guide to Buying The Most Effective Sanitizers Available in The Market

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By Apollo 24/7, Published on- 30 June 2020, Updated on - 18 October 2022

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In the absence of any vaccine or definitive treatment, hand hygiene is one of the most effective measures to prevent the spread of Coronavirus. With the World Health Organization (WHO) recommending the use of sanitizers for protection against the Coronavirus infection, there has been an increase in the number of sanitizer brands in the market. Also, with many brands of sanitizers being out of stock, many consumers have resorted to buying just any sanitizer available in the market.

There is a chance that the sanitizer you have purchased may not be effective against Coronavirus. Hence, before you purchase a bottle of sanitizer, you need to analyze the product label and understand a few things.

This article highlights some pointers which you should look for before buying a sanitizer.

What are sanitizers?

A sanitizer is an OTC (over-the-counter) product categorized under antiseptic hand sanitization. It is also known as hand sanitizer, hand rub, or alcohol-based hand-rub (ABHR) intended for the disinfection of hands. It should not be injected, ingested, inhaled or applied over larger body surfaces. The WHO defines hand sanitizer as an alcohol-containing preparation in gel, spray, or foam form designed to be applied on the hands to inactivate microbes and/or temporarily suppress their growth.

There are some non-alcoholic hand sanitizers that are being sold in the market but are not recommended by health organizations due to their poor efficacy and narrower spectrum. The alcoholic content is one of the major factors that determine the effectiveness of a hand sanitizer. Hence, you should prefer an alcohol-based hand sanitizer over a non-alcoholic one.

Why hand hygiene is important during the COVID-19 pandemic

COVID-19 can spread through direct or indirect contact. For the purposes of this article and the discussion about hand sanitizers, we will focus on the indirect spread of COVID-19. It can indirectly spread by touching virus-contaminated surfaces and then touching one’s mouth, nose or eyes. The virus can then travel from the face to the nasal or oral cavity and finally to the lungs causing respiratory infection. Hence, hand hygiene plays an important role in combating the spread of COVID-19.

Role of hand sanitizers in hand hygiene

Hand sanitizers are an effective way to cleanse our hands, in the absence of soap and water. Hence, an alcohol-based hand-rub or a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% ethyl alcohol (ethanol) should be used as an alternative. However, in the case of visibly soiled hands, soap and water should be used.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), sanitizers take about 30 seconds to kill microbes and can effectively kill 99.9% of germs. It also recommends the application of a sanitizer on the palm of one hand and rubbing it gently all over the surfaces of the hands until the hands become dry.

What contents should be present in a sanitizer?

  • Minimum 60% Ethyl alcohol (ethanol): Global health organizations like WHO, US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and CDC recommend 60%–95% ethyl alcohol (ethanol) content in alcohol-based hand-rubs. As stated earlier, non-alcoholic hand sanitizers are not recommended by the CDC against COVID-19.
  • Minimum 70% Isopropyl alcohol (isopropanol): The CDC recommends using alcohol-based hand-rubs containing at least 70% Isopropyl alcohol (isopropanol) content.

What contents should not be present in a sanitizer?

  • Methyl alcohol (methanol): According to the USFDA, hand sanitizers should not contain methyl alcohol (methanol) due to its toxic effects (methanol poisoning). Methanol exposure can lead to headaches, nausea, vomiting, blurred vision, permanent blindness or nerve damage.
  • Benzalkonium chloride: Some of the hand sanitizers available in the market are selling brands that contain benzalkonium chloride instead of alcohol as the active ingredient. Such non-alcohol based hand rubs may not be effective against the Coronavirus. Hence, the risks of getting infected remain in this case.

Are home-made sanitizers effective against Coronavirus?

Homemade sanitizers are generally made without medical-grade ingredients and may not contain the minimum prescribed grade of Ethyl alcohol (ethanol) or Isopropyl alcohol that is required to inactivate Coronavirus. Moreover, you may not have the appropriate tools and a sterile environment to make the hand sanitizer at home. Hence, buying a hand sanitizer from a trustworthy brand which fulfils the requirements given in this article is recommended.

If you need some recommendations for sanitizer, here are our top picks:



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