Hand sanitizer updates you need to know about during COVID-19

During the global pandemic, many essentials have been in short supply. This has left many of us to sacrifice quality to have something rather than nothing.

Toilet paper, face masks, hand sanitizer… to name a few. During this public health emergency, companies have pivoted to creating masks and sanitizers. With all these new hand sanitizers on the market, it can be difficult to know what's safe and effective.

We all know how important hand hygiene is - it's one of the critical things every individual can do to slow the spread. But what happens if your sanitizer improperly made?

Consumers should understand the FDA's temporary policies to know which products to trust. Under these policies, the FDA will not interfere with companies preparing sanitizer for consumer use.

Here are 5 questions to ask yourself when purchasing hand sanitizer.

Question #1: Is this hand sanitizer effective against COVID-19?

The best way to prevent the spread of disease is hand washing with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. When soap and water are not available, you'll want to use a hand sanitizer containing at least 60% alcohol. Anything less than 60% is sub potent and may not be effective at killing germs. You should still wash with soap and water as soon as you can.

Alcohol-based sanitizer can inactivate many microbes if correctly used. This means using the correct amount, covering all surfaces of both hands, and not wiping off the product before it's dried. Best sure to supervise young children using alcohol-based hand sanitizer to prevent swallowing.


Question #2: Does the sanitizer product contain methanol?

Ensure that the sanitizer does not contain methanol – a dangerous and toxic substance. Unfortunately, most products containing methanol do not list it on the label. Check with the FDA for a list of sanitizers found to contain methanol. One notable recall is products manufactured by Eskbiochem.

Methanol is highly toxic and can be absorbed through the skin or ingested. Side effects of methanol include permanent blindness and nerve damage, or even death. If you're experiencing symptoms from methanol exposure, you should seek immediate medical treatment.

Question #3: Is the sanitizer “alcohol-free”?

If the answer is yes, the CDC does not recommend you use it. Instead, they recommend you use a sanitizer containing at least 60% alcohol instead. Non-alcohol sanitizer reduces the growth of germs rather than killing them like alcoholic sanitizers.

Alcohol-free sanitizers are still better than nothing, but nothing is better than washing your hands frequently. If you cannot find sanitizers containing alcohol, benzalkonium chloride sanitizers may be the best option. Benzalkonium chloride is the active ingredient in most non-alcohol sanitizers. This may be used as an active ingredient if it meets the requirements under section 505G of the Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act.


Question #4: Which active ingredient does the sanitizer contain?

The two most used active ingredients in hand sanitizers are ethanol (ethyl) alcohol and Isopropyl alcohol (IPA). They are the most effective in reducing bacteria that can cause disease. These two are currently the only active ingredients for hand sanitizer approved for use by the FDA.

If a sanitizer contains active ingredients other than those listed above the FDA recommends that you avoid using them. If you are unsure if a sanitizer was FDA approved look for a drug fact panel and an NDC number. If it is not labeled than the product is not manufactured in an FDA monitored facility and is not appropriately registered.


Question #5: Does percent alcohol content matter?

Sanitizers should have an alcohol concentration between 60% and 95% to be the most effective. Sanitizers containing at least 60% alcohol to kill the germs they contact. Alcohol concentrations lower than 60% will reduce the growth of germs rather than kill them. The high alcohol percentage breaks down the cell walls of germs to kill them.

Hand sanitizers work best when they are used properly. Ensure you are applying an appropriate amount to cover the entirety of your hands. Rubbing the sanitizer into your hands and allowing it to completely dry is key. Make sure to get your fingertips well since they touch the most surfaces!

Now that you have your questions answered we suggest looking at all the solutions we offer to suit your needs.

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