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Alcohol vs Alcohol-Free Hand Sanitiser

There’s no doubting that hand sanitiser currently plays an imperative role in all of our lives. It’s a vital tool for disease and infection control that many of us are currently using to slow down the spread of coronavirus. However, with so many different hand sanitiser and general hand hygiene products available on the market, it can be difficult to know which type of hand sanitiser or other sanitation product actually works.

When it comes to hand sanitiser, the most common distinction between product types is whether they do or do not contain alcohol. Although most people wouldn’t give a second thought to it, choosing the right one is vital to ensure that the sanitiser is suitable for why you’re using it.

Both types of hand sanitiser have their pros and cons.

Alcohol Hand Sanitisers

Alcohol-based hand sanitiser products will contain an active ingredient like alcohol or isopropanol. These are effective antiseptic products that kill many of the germs, bacteria, and pathogens that can end up on our hands, including coronaviruses.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recommends that for an alcohol hand sanitiser to be effective, it should contain between 60 percent and 95 percent alcohol. This high concentration of alcohol has raised concerns in the past, both in the media and healthcare community. This is because alcohol is flammable in high concentrations, and it can also be dangerous for children who could develop acute alcohol poisoning if enough is ingested.  

And while it is very effective at killing coronaviruses and other pathogens, it isn’t effective against everything, norovirus being an example. Also, with extended use, alcohol-based hand sanitisers can dry out the skin and cause cracking.

Alcohol-based hand sanitisers have long been recommended by the World Health Organisation as the best alternative to washing hands with soap and water.

Alcohol-Free Hand Sanitiser

Most alcohol-free sanitisers that are available on the market come in the form of a water-based foam. Generally, these products contain the active ingredient Benzalkonium Chloride, a quaternary ammonium.

Despite not containing alcohol, alcohol-free sanitisers still provide the same level of protection as alcohol-based sanitisers because of this active ingredient. Other ingredients include water and usually some form of skin softener or conditioner like vitamin E. Due to the absence of alcohol, alcohol-free hand sanitisers are non-flammable and non-toxic.

Alcohol-free sanitisers were introduced to address the problems that people had with alcohol-based gels, such as how harsh they are on the skin. Typically, alcohol-free sanitisers are much nicer to the skin and are much less harmful if ingested. They’re also non-damaging to surfaces and clothes, and they’re suitable for people who can’t use alcohol-based products for religious reasons.

The biggest drawback regarding alcohol-free sanitiser is that it usually comes in the form of a foam. This is problematic not only because some people dislike the foam, but also because it’s more expensive to produce for manufacturers.

What is the best type of sanitiser?

Both types of sanitiser do more or less the same job when it comes to killing harmful pathogens and microbes like the coronavirus. The “right” choice for you depends on your own requirements, budget, and personal preference.

If, for example, you have or work with children or vulnerable people, or in a sensitive facility such as a rehab centre, then an alcohol-free sanitiser is going to be your best bet. If, however, you work in a regulated healthcare setting, you’re going to need alcohol-based sanitiser as per NHS guidance. Alcohol-based gels usually in smaller and more discreet bottles too, so these are ideal if you’re looking for something lightweight to carry around.

Whatever your needs, either type of hand sanitiser is an effective way to prevent the spread of coronavirus and other infectious diseases.

Here at HandStations.co.uk, we stock both types of hand sanitiser. We manufacture our own alcohol-based hand sanitiser and source alcohol-free sanitiser from Nilaqua, a renowned manufacturer of sanitation products including shampoos and cleansing wipes. Both types of hand sanitiser can be bought as individual units or multipacks.

We also stock our own range of automatic touch-free hand sanitiser dispensers. These are available as free-standing, wall-mounted, or desktop units ideal for use in a commercial setting.

If you’d like to find out more about what products and services we offer, contact a member of the team today.

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