The Ultimate Guide to Hand Sanitizer

The Ultimate Guide to Hand Sanitizer SONO Healthcare
6 minute read time


What is the best Hand Sanitizer Formula?

With news stories of a new, faster spreading variation of coronavirus circulating in the UK and surrounding countries, it’s important to be even more careful before vaccines are widely available. Wearing masks in public is among the most effective ways to avoid the virus, but we can’t neglect our hands either. The CDC recommends that everyone wash their hands frequently with soap and water, but that isn’t always possible when you’re away from home. That means you need to keep a bottle of hand sanitizer ready to use.Until now, you may not have paid close attention to the ingredients in hand sanitizer. Lots of people think they’re all the same (which isn’t true). While alcohol-based hand sanitizer is what the CDC recommends for Covid-19 at this time, new research shows that BZK-based hand sanitizer is just as effective. In fact, it kills the virus in just 15 seconds. Since there are a lot of options for hand sanitizer on the market, this post will help you choose the right one for yourself and your family.

Hand Sanitizer Formula Options

There are two types of hand sanitizers currently approved by the FDA:

  1. Alcohol-based
  2. Non-alcohol based

The alcohol-based formulations are made with either isopropyl alcohol or ethyl alcohol (ethanol). You’re probably familiar with isopropyl alcohol because many people keep a bottle in their homes to clean cuts and scrapes. Ethyl alcohol is commonly used for fuel, but it can also be used in hand sanitizers with the right precautions. To make it safe for your hands, it’s distilled using the same process as other consumable goods and monitored by the FDA. Regarding non-alcohol hand sanitizers, different chemicals can be used to make the effective ingredients, but the most common formulation uses benzalkonium chloride (BZK). It’s also the key ingredient used in most non-alcohol shampoos and disinfecting wipes.

How Hand Sanitizer Is Regulated

During the Covid-19 crisis, the CDC is making recommendations for what hand sanitizer to use, but it doesn’t regulate its production or marketing activities. The FDA sets the standards for what ingredients are allowed in hand sanitizer, in addition to the concentration level of each ingredient and how the product can be manufactured and marketed. In 2019, the FDA issued a final rule designed to help ensure hand sanitizers available over-the-counter (OTC) are safe and effective for consumers. It’s currently only allowing benzalkonium chloride (BZK), ethyl alcohol, and isopropyl alcohol to be used until more studies are conducted. Currently, the CDC and FDA recommend everyone use a hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol to fight Covid-19. However, that’s not the same as allowing it to be a marketable claim that manufacturers can use. For that, the FDA needs studies that confirm alcohol and/or non-alcohol-based hand sanitizers are effective against Covid-19. But so far, the FDA hasn’t made any new recommendations, even though BZK has been shown to be highly-effective against Covid-19.

Furthermore, the FDA is not currently allowing any manufacturers to claim their product kills or works in any way against Covid-19. So if you see that on a label, you should not trust the product.Aside from false Covid-19 claims on labels, there have been some additionally regulatory problems. Due to product shortages at the start of the pandemic, the FDA relaxed some of its rules to allow companies that don’t normally produce alcohol-based hand sanitizer to make it. Because of the reduced regulations, some major retailers recently made headlines when their hand sanitizer products were found to contain toxic ingredients. The best way to avoid any chance of using a toxic hand sanitizer product is to only buy from a company you trust AND that was manufacturing it before the pandemic began. It’s the only way to know the manufacturer is following the correct safety procedures.

CDC Recommendations for Covid-19

The CDC is only recommending hand sanitizer with 60% alcohol or higher for Covid-19. However, the only reason it seems to not be including BZK within its recommendation is due to one study conducted in 1998. It showed mixed results for BZK when it was tested to eliminate a different strain of human coronavirus, which is not the same as what we’re dealing with now. Since then, independent lab tests conducted in 2020 have shown BZK eliminates 99.9% of the virus in 30 seconds. Additional 60-second and 120-second exposure times had the same results. Newer studies are even more promising. Researchers at BYU found BZK kills 99.9% of the coronavirus in 15 seconds. At the very least, BZK is just as effective as alcohol to kill the virus. Based on the new data, researchers, medical professionals and manufacturers have requested the CDC expand its current hand sanitizer recommendation to include BZK-based products. They say the new guidance is needed because there isn’t enough alcohol-based hand sanitizer supply to meet current demands (and with the FDA not closely regulating some of the new companies producing it, there is a lot of room for error and mislabeling). At this time, the CDC has not made any statements about the new BZK research or the possibility of changing its guidelines.

New Covid-19 Hand Sanitizer Research

Aside from studies showing that BZK remains on your skin longer than alcohol-based hand sanitizer, which means it protects against germs longer, the latest research also shows it is effective against coronavirus. BioScience Laboratories in Bozeman, Montana found BZK to be very effective against coronaviruses because it attacks the virus envelope and breaks it apart. Tests were conducted exposing BZK to the virus for 30 seconds, 60 seconds and 120 seconds. In every instance, BZK killed 99.9% of the coronavirus tested. Additional research recently published in The Journal of Hospital Infection, found BZK to work even faster against the coronavirus, with 99.9% killed in just 15 seconds.

Pros and Cons of BZK-Based Hand Sanitizer

BZK has a number of benefits that you won’t find in alcohol-based hand sanitizer. The biggest difference you’ll notice is that it doesn’t sting when applied to cuts or scrapes. There’s no alcohol, which is what normally causes a little pain when you have a scratch. It’s also more gentle on your skin. It doesn’t evaporate quickly, so you’ll not experience the dry or cracked hands that alcohol can sometimes leave you with. And as mentioned above, since it stays on your skin longer than alcohol, you’re protected from germs for a longer duration. BZK also isn’t flammable like alcohol, so it’s safer for children to use. The primary con for the moment is the CDC doesn’t recommend BZK for Covid-19. It’s not clear yet if the CDC is just slow to respond to the new data... or intentionally ignoring it. Here’s why: The CDC has a non-profit arm called the CDC Foundation, which is funded by corporate lobbying groups and big pharma. It has also been criticized in the past for not making decisions in the best interest of the public because of these ties.

In the end, you should make the final decision as to what products you should use by researching independent studies published in scientific journals. Here’s one to get you started: It compared the effectiveness of BZK and alcohol-based hand sanitizer when used by healthcare workers.

Pros and Cons of Alcohol-Based Hand Sanitizer

The biggest benefits for using alcohol-based hand sanitizers are that they eliminate germs and the CDC currently recommends them for Covid-19. However, due to product shortages, it can be extremely difficult to find. Other than being hard to find, some people experience mild skin irritation from alcohol-based hand sanitizer. It’s not very common, so if you’ve used it before, you’re not likely to have any problems.

Where To Store Hand Sanitizer

Alcohol-based hand sanitizer must be stored in a cool place away from direct sunlight. It also must have the cap securely tightened when not being used to ensure the alcohol doesn’t evaporate. Since it’s the primary germ-fighting ingredient, allowing evaporation will cause the product to be ineffective. BZK-based hand sanitizers can be stored anywhere and evaporation isn’t a concern.

How Often To Apply Hand Sanitizer

Due to the Covid-19 crisis, it’s best to carry hand sanitizer with you when you’re away from home. Be sure to use it every time before eating and before touching your face. It’s also a good idea to use it immediately after leaving a building, specifically before you touch your vehicle. Beyond hand hygiene, you should also remember to use disinfecting wipes on items you bring home and inside your vehicle after being out. A good way to find which brand of disinfecting wipes to buy is to look at what hospitals use. More often than not, you’ll see them using SONO Disinfecting Wipes.

Where To Buy SONO Healthcare Hand Sanitizer

SONO Healthcare makes a moisturizing, BZK-based foaming hand sanitizer with bergamot oil. You can order it online through sonohealthcare.com

Next post

Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published