Choosing the Right Hand Sanitizer for You

What to know before selecting the right product

hand sanitizer

October looms on the horizon — and with it the new flu season, compounded by ongoing public health concerns like COVID-19. Hand washing with soap and water remains the gold standard for combating the spread of germs. Yet there is no denying the convenience of hand sanitizers, especially during busy work days at the office. Installing dispensers around your facility is a simple way to promote hand hygiene. But are you choosing the right kind of hand sanitizing product, balancing effectiveness and ease of use? Consider these factors when selecting the best hand sanitizer for your office (and for your own home too).

Choose the right active ingredient

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) only recommend hand sanitizers using ethanol or isopropanol alcohol. The level of alcohol concentration also matters, as the CDC recommended at least 60%. It’s worth noting that research finds 70% to be the most effective (and is the recommended concentration for hospital settings).

So, which type of alcohol should you pick between the two? For hand sanitizers, ethanol arguably proves the better choice, as a 2017 study found it was gentler on the skin. A sanitizer that doesn’t strip the skin as harshly only encourages more use.

The type of dispensation also matters

From bubbly foams, to sprays, to good old-fashion gels, today’s hand sanitizers come in various formulations. But each type offers distinct benefits and drawbacks. Gels, the most cost-effective option, spread easily, getting into every nook and cranny. It also encourages rubbing, which boosts its effectiveness as friction supports the de-germing process. But gels can cause more mess, leading to slippery floors if not monitored regularly.

Foam on the other hand sticks to your skin, so it’s less likely to drip — but it comes with a higher price tag per refill. Fine aerosol sprays provide fast and broad coverage. But they evaporate faster, and are prone to waste as the product disperses in the air instead of your hands. In the end, the choice depends on what works best for your facility’s needs. Perhaps using a mix of more than one, with both portable and stationary dispensers, could be right for you.

For individual use, gels and foams are an ideal on-the-go option, whether stashed in your desk or personal bag. It is important, however, to not store any sanitizer for too long in a hot car, as the alcohol can break down under prolonged exposure to the heat and sunlight.

Consider other add-ons

Other skin-friendly ingredients can improve the overall hand-sanitizing experience. Consider products with moisturizing add-ons like glycerin and aloe vera, which help counteract the potential dryness caused by alcohol. However, feel free to skip more sensorial additions like color dyes and fragrances that increase the likelihood of irritation, especially for those with sensitive skin.