3 Things to Consider When Selecting a Hand Disinfectant Gel
Updated: Jun 25, 2020
Hand sanitizing (disinfecting) gels, sprays and wipes have become a part of most people's lives. They're intended for use when soap and water aren't available, but if you're like me you use them as much out of necessity as convenience. Yes, they clean and help keep me safe from germs and viruses, but they also leave my hands dry, cracked, sensitive and even painful. Over the past few months, I've come to love and hate my sanitizers and this has led me to the following three conclusions:
#1 IT HAS TO KILL GERMS, NOT MY HANDS!
The CDC guidelines state that a concentration of 60% alcohol or more works well (https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/hcp/hand-hygiene.html). Some brands carry alcohol in excess of 70% which may be excessive and lead to higher skin drying and irritation. Make sure to get a brand with approved types of alcohol. The FDA recently called out a foreign brand selling in the USA for using non-approved forms of alcohol like Methanol. Ethyl alcohol is the FDA's recommended form. Alcohol evaporates quicker at higher concentrations, giving it less time to be in contact with the skin and the germs it needs to kill. Gels formulated with 65% alcohol and a thick base to provide longer-lasting contact with the skin without over-drying it.
#2 IT SHOULDN'T SMELL LIKE PURE RUBBING ALCOHOL
Nothing will work as intended if you don't use it. Sanitizers have high amounts of alcohol by any standard, which is drying and carries a strong odor. The inactive ingredients, or carrier base, can help mask the scent of alcohol and add moisturizing or protective properties. Look for sanitizers with natural essential oils such as citrus or lavender, to cover up the smell of the alcohol better than Vitamin E or Aloe. Lavender and other essential oils also help moisturize and protect the skin from drying, which is a direct consequence of using hand sanitizers frequently.
#3 IT HAS TO BE AVAILABLE WHEN AND WHERE I NEED IT
That means it has to be small enough to fit in a purse or pocket and yet large enough to last a while. A gallon of hand sanitizer will serve my needs in 1 room for a year, but that's not practical for most people. And, pouring gels from one bottle to another without spilling most of it is difficult at any age. A 4 OZ bottle that I can carry around is ideal. Even better is buying multiple bottles that I can leave in every room of the house, my car and the office.