How To Choose The Best Hand Sanitizer For You

Dirt is ubiquitous, found everywhere from the subway to the surfaces of grocery stores and household items. Every interaction and encounter is immersed in germs and contact is inevitable. Considering the frequent influenza outbreaks, carrying hand sanitizers has become a necessary precaution. 

Evaluating effective hand sanitizers becomes more important in the winter season in the U.S. Medical practitioners are in agreement that alcohol-based hand sanitizers are the way to go. 

According to immunologist Heather Moday, alcohol-based sanitizers with either ethyl alcohol or isopropyl alcohol work best. "Bonus if it's from an organic or non-GMO source. Hand sanitizers with 60 percent or more of these ingredients have been shown to reduce and kill most bacteria and viruses, while the most effective percentage is around 70 percent," Moday told mindbodygreen

To prevent alcohol from drying up the skin, moisturizers are added in small traces to the sanitizers. It is mostly because water helps the ingredients penetrate the skin more easily, Moday explained. 

Natural vs. Artificial Hand Sanitizers

While less harsher alternatives such as thyme, lavender and bitter orange are known to have antimicrobial effects, there are no studies to concretely draw the link between natural ingredients and removing dirt. The FDA keeps track of the amount of antibacterial agents added to several product but there is no regulation to study the effectiveness of natural ingredients, according to David Pollock, co-founder of American MD Labs.

“The products may have some benefits, but I am not aware of any studies other than anecdotal evidence or folklore. Personally, I would suggest that they make for great marketing, and, if in the right base formula, the product can deliver,” Pollock said. 

hand sanitizer Parents are advised to buy foam hand sanitizer to discourage their children from trying to drink it. Mr.TinDC CC BY-ND 2.0


Reading the labels of hand sanitizers is important to identify harmful chemicals. But the chemicals are often hidden under labels called ‘fragrance’ to deceive the consumer. One of them is phthalates, which is an endocrine disrupter and also contributes to lowering of the sperm count if used for long. Triclosan is another such ingredient that is under investigation by the FDA. It is a hormone disrupter and has been linked to antibiotic resistance, hence precaution is advised. 

What The CDC Says

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says that using soap and water is the safest way to cleanse your hands of all germs and dust. In situations where water and soap are not accessible, a hand sanitizer could come in handy, provided the content is made up of 60 percent alcohol. 

The CDC maintains that while alcohol-based sanitizers can prevent the growth of some of the microbes present on the hands, the products are not capable of immaculately wiping the hands clean of all germs by killing them. Certain germs such as Cryptosporidium, norovirus and Clostridium difficile are best eliminated with soap and water