According to the everyday preventive action recommendations of the CDC, washing your hands often with plain soap and water for at least 20 seconds can help prevent the spread of germs, illness, and bacteria. You know how important it can be to wash your hands frequently when you are in public areas. However, a sink, soap, and water may not always be at your fingertips. Hand sanitizers can be used as a convenient hygiene product, particularly if you are a commuter, teacher, or healthcare worker.
There are many hand sanitizers available. Some formulas reduce the spread of disease-causing germs by more than 99%. Some are infused with soothing and moisturizing ingredients that will keep your hands soft and smooth, and they meet all official alcohol recommendations. Traditional alcohol-based hand sanitizers are the best option if you’re looking for a more economical formula. There are special formulas that contain organic ingredients or chemical alternatives for those with sensitive skin or allergies. What should you look out for in a hand sanitizer?
This buying guide explains everything you should consider when looking for hand sanitizers. The matrix below lists our top picks for hand sanitizers.
Best Hand Sanitizers
What to Consider When Buying Hand Sanitizers?
Hand sanitizers containing 60% to 95% alcohol kill germs more effectively than those containing a lower level of alcohol.
Higher alcohol levels than 60% can work faster and kill more germs than hand sanitizers with 60% alcohol. However, they may be more irritating to the skin. If your hands become very red from using hand sanitizers, you might consider one with 60% alcohol.
Hand sanitizers with no alcohol may be available from some manufacturers. However, these products are not recommended. They can reduce germ growth but not necessarily kill germs.
Two types of alcohol approved by the FDA for hand sanitizers include ethyl alcohol (also known as ethanol) or Isopropyl Alcohol.
You might also see benzalkonium chloride as an alternative active ingredient. This is not alcohol. According to the CDC, it may not be as effective as alcohol against certain bacteria and viruses.
Ethyl alcohol is the active ingredient in most hand sanitizers. It makes up between 60% to 70% of the formulation. Although the inactive ingredients of hand sanitizers vary, most contain water and glycerin. Many hand sanitizers contain moisturizing ingredients such as oils, aloe vera, or vitamin E.
Gel vs Liquid Foam
Hand sanitizers come in gel and liquid foam. They are made of two main ingredients: alcohol and something that can be carried on your hands. The only difference between these two forms is just different ways of delivering alcohol disinfectant.
Gel hand sanitizers are made with thickening agents to congeal alcohol, while liquid sanitizers are made with water, usually with glycerin as moisturizing agents.
Gel sanitizers have a different tactile sensation than liquid foam sanitizers. Due to their thick consistency, gels take a longer time to dry and may leave a sticky residue on the skin after it dries. They can also clog the container or pump openings when dried in a dispenser of hand sanitizer. Accidents can happen when the gel is squirted out in every direction. The gel’s thickness makes it difficult to soak your fingers with it and it is best to wash your hands after use.
The clear advantage of liquid foaming hand sanitizers is the fact that it sticks to your skin while being applied. Because it is bubbly, it is easy to see how much material is needed to complete the hand hygiene. The liquid foaming hand sanitizers absorb easily into the skin between fingers and under fingernails. They leave hands clean and dry quicker than gels.
Foaming hand sanitizers can be used in many containers, including wall-mount ones. Due to their liquid consistency, liquid hand sanitizers are not likely to clog dispensers, which makes them a safer and better alcohol delivery method.
When it comes to effectiveness, gel sanitizers take more time to kill germs, bacteria, and viruses, because the alcohol in gels is surrounded by gel thickeners, it takes longer for alcohol to reach the bacteria and viruses in your hands. Liquid sanitizers can kill germs twice faster than gel sanitizers.
Hand sanitizers can be made with special formulas that are either alcohol-free or do not contain the harsh chemicals in regular sanitizers. These formulas are safe for sensitive skin and children. Hand sanitizers are also free from parabens and sulfates as well as phthalates, dyes, and fragrances. These sanitizers are made up of plant-derived ingredients.
There are also some appealing scented hand sanitizers. Users need to be cautious that dyes and fragrances can cause skin irritation in people with sensitive skin. If you have sensitive skin, it is best to stick with a plain, unscented product.
Spray: Many hand sanitizer travel bottles have spray nozzles. Spray bottles can be very convenient, even though it may take a few sprays to get the right amount of sanitizer, and there is minimal mess.
Squeeze: These bottles come with a flip-top cap which allows you to get hand sanitizer in your hands. Squeeze bottles tend to be less expensive than spray bottles. They can be refilled with any gel sanitizer.
Pump: These dispensers are ideal for large bottles of hand sanitizer. The traditional pump takes several presses to disperse the required amount of sanitizer. It is usually in gel form.
Foam: Foam is a popular product for everyday use and is usually full-size. Foam hand sanitizers are often sold in pumps, much like foam soaps. It is easy to regulate how much product you are able to use at once.
Hand sanitizers that contain emollients like aloe vera can reduce irritation and dryness. However, it’s all about personal preference.
Avoid methanol-based hand sanitizers. Some alcohol-based hand sanitizers may contain methanol, a kind of wood alcohol often used to create fuel and antifreeze. It can cause skin irritation and even death when absorbed through the skin. Avoid products that have methanol listed on their labels. You should also review the FDA’s list of prohibited substances for hand sanitizers, as methanol may not always be declared on product labels.
How Much Do Hand Sanitizers Cost?
The price of hand sanitizers varies on the ingredients (formulas), brands, dispensers, and amount.
Less than $10: You can choose from small value packs of travel-size or eight-ounce pump-bottle hand sanitizer gels at this affordable price. These hand sanitizers are made by well-respected brands that have a solid reputation for producing effective formulas.
$10-$25: In this range, you can buy a large amount of pocket hand sanitizer gels from lesser brands, such as a 2-pack of 32-ounce alcohol-based sanitizer gel, unscented alcohol-free Unscented, 3-pack of 8.45-ounce foaming pump hand sanitizers.
$25-$50: If you are purchasing hand sanitizers for home use or office, you can find plenty of 32-ounce hand sanitizers, with or without specialty formulas, gel or liquid foam consistency, scented or unscented, pumps or caps bottles. For large bottles, if you want to take hand sanitizers in pockets or handbags, you can pour them into small travel bottles.
How to Use Hand Sanitizers Properly and Safely?
Handwashing with hand sanitizers is essential to prevent the spread of illnesses like colds, flu, and other diseases. There are also some tips for using it correctly for best results.
- Apply enough hand sanitizer to cover all your hand surfaces, including your fingertips, wrists, and hand backs. Only enough amount( a few pumps) can make it effective to kill germs, regardless of the brand.
- You must use enough hand sanitizer to make it effective, regardless of the brand. A quarter-sized amount of gel sanitizer is enough. Spray or foam sanitizers will usually have a number of pumps.
- After you have the sanitizer in hand, rub it in like you would soap your hands. you can rub it over both hands thoroughly like you wash hands with soap. Let it air dry. Most hand sanitizers are quick to dry, leaving no residue so that you can carry on with your normal activities while being protected against germs.
- Moisturize your hands after the hand sanitizer has dried. Your hands could become dry if you wash your hands frequently or use hand sanitizer several times per day. You may also notice cracks and fissures in your hands that allow germs to penetrate the skin. Moisturizers help keep your skin healthy.
Although hand sanitizers are not a cure-all for all infections, they can reduce your chances of contracting them if you use it correctly and purchase a good product.
Use hand sanitizer after you have brushed the animals and walked with animals. This will keep germs and dirt away until you can wash your hands thoroughly.
If you go to garage sales, keep a bottle of hand sanitizer with you. Hand sanitizer is a must if you plan to visit a lot of estate and garage sales in one day.
After washing your hands, avoid wiping your clothes. Some hand sanitizers contain dyes and chemicals that can permanently stain fabrics. If you don’t want to rub your hands on clothes, wipe them with a tissue or handkerchief.
Hand sanitizer should be kept in homes that have immune-compromised people. Hand sanitizer should be kept around homes with people who have compromised immune systems. Make sure guests use hand sanitizer before coming in contact with your family member.
Hand sanitizers won’t work if your hands are oily or greasy.
For those suffering from eczema or psoriasis, it is best to choose hand sanitizers without alcohol, dyes, or parabens.
Hand sanitizer should not be kept in your car as it can explode at extreme temperatures. It’s better to carry hand sanitizer in your bag or purse if you want it with you at all times.
Hand sanitizers are as effective at reducing other germs as hand washing, such as influenza A. However, hand sanitizers should be avoided if possible. Because handwashing with soap and water for 20 seconds is gentler than using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer. It may also be more effective against some germs such as norovirus, which causes vomiting and diarrhea, and Cryptosporidium, which causes diarrhea and stomach cramps. Clostridium difficile, or C. diff, can cause fever, diarrhea, and other symptoms.