What to Look For in Hand Sanitizer | The Active Ingredient

ethyl alcohol best for hand sanitizer

Hand sanitizer will have an active ingredient. It’s the ingredient that gets the job done. The disinfecting.

Use it when hand washing is not available or practical. It will help to kill bacteria and inactivate virus that may have gotten on your hands.

Hand Sanitizer Active Ingredient

The active ingredient is typically alcohol. Most common is ethyl alcohol. Also, isopropyl alcohol.

Why alcohol? Because it is antimicrobial. It kills bacteria. Alcohol kills bacteria usually by dissolving its cellular membrane.

“The way alcohol-based hand sanitizers work is basically by busting the cell wall of germs” and thus killing them, said one doctor. Compared with soap and water, sanitizers are a convenient alternative when you’re on the go.

Does Hand Sanitizer with Alcohol Kill Virus?

Alcohol is effective against influenza virus.

Ethyl alcohol (70%) is a powerful broad-spectrum germicide and is considered generally superior to isopropyl alcohol.

~ National Center for Biotechnology Information

Alcohol-based hand sanitizers kill most types of bacteria, viruses and fungi in a few seconds.

While rubbing your hands with sanitizer for 15 seconds is ideal, poor hand-sanitizer use still beats poor hand washing.

~ livescience

What’s interesting is this… Upon researching for a definitive answer whether or not hand sanitizer with alcohol inactivates virus (which they do)… there were caveats.

Caveats: The duration (sanitize time) of application – time it takes to destroy the virus. The type of virus. The protective mucas barrier that surrounds droplets of the virus (wet vs dry). Alcohol concentration. Are the hands dirty. Using the recommended amount.

As expected, there’s nothing definitive regarding the new covid-19 coronavirus.

Are Hand Sanitzers with Alcohol Better than Non-Alcohol?

Apparently, yes.

Many studies have found that those with an alcohol concentration between 60–95% are more effective at killing germs than those with a lower alcohol concentration or non-alcohol-based..

~ cdc

I look for a 70% alcohol content. Most common are in the 60% range. But why not up the dose? If you look for it, you’ll probably find some that are 70%. I did.

Is Washing Hands Better Than Hand Sanitizer?

Yes, IF DONE PROPERLY. The problem is, most people don’t (wash hands the right way).

With that in mind, one might suggest that proper application of hand sanitizer may be considered better – because it’s easier and more likely. But that would only be because people don’t wash their hands the way in which it would be most effective!

The Takeaway

I keep it in my vehicle (and at home). I apply it to my hands immediately upon re-entering my vehicle. It’s a logical sensible thing to do, especially during flu season (or coronavirus pandemic!).

Unfortunately hand sanitizer is largely difficult to get right now because of the unfolding coronavirus situation. Hopefully this is temporary. Just keep looking…

Maybe there’s some here:
(Search amzn for 70% alcohol content)

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