Hand Sanitisers: Best Alternative to Handwashing

Date Posted:1 March 2021 

Washing your hands is the best way to protect against viruses that cause viral diseases, such as the coronavirus. But when there’s no soap and water available, the next best solution is to use alcohol-based hand sanitisers.

The best way to prevent the COVID-19 virus is by washing your hands using soap and water. It is the recommended health protocol by experts. But what do you do when you don’t have access to soap and water? Your next best option is to use an alcohol-based sanitiser.

How effective are hand sanitisers in protecting you against dangerous viruses, such as the COVID-19 virus? Would a hand sanitiser product be a good alternative for people who have not received COVID-19 vaccines?  What’s the proper way to apply hand sanitisers? Read on to find out.

Hand Sanitiser and Hand Hygiene

While we are still in the midst of a global healthcare crisis, your personal pandemic planning must revolve around improving your hygiene. Even if you are not a healthcare professional, adding hygiene habits will help you in handling disease control and preventing the spread of the virus.

According to many studies, hands are the primary carriers of infections, whether simple diseases to Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, Coronavirus, or other extreme diseases. That’s why it is important to develop habits of hygiene, teaching people young or old to wash hands regularly.

Admittedly, washing hands with soap and water is the best defense. But at this time of a public health emergency, we won’t always have a sink, soap, or water at our disposal. We need to depend on something that is commercially available – and that’s alcohol-based hand sanitiser products.

Hand Sanitiser vs Soap and Water

The main difference between soap and water and hand sanitiser is that the latter does not kill germs. Washing with soap and water removes germs and viruses. In the case of the novel coronavirus, soap and water help break down the components of the virus, rendering it ineffective. When you rub and scrub soap onto your hands, palms, and fingers, it usually creates friction that breaks down the structure of viruses and bacteria. So when you rinse the soap from your hands using water, the germs are also rinsed off and are washed down the drain.

Hand sanitisers, particularly the alcohol-based ones, kill most viruses and bacteria on your skin, including the ones that cause the coronavirus disease. Plus, it is more convenient to use during specific scenarios when soap and water are not available. You can easily bring it anywhere you go so you can sanitise your hands even when outside.

Although hand washing using soap and water is effective at getting rid of viruses and germs, as well as dirt and grime, the problem is that you don’t have access to it most of the time. In these cases, you can use hand sanitisers as a backup. The best time to use a hand sanitiser is when you can't get to wash your hands on a sink using some soap and clean water.

For instance, if you visited a family or friend in the hospital, you need to disinfect your hands using a hand sanitiser on your way in and out. This is to prevent you from carrying in some virus or leaving with one. Using a hand sanitiser is also recommended whenever you interact with people with weakened immune systems, such as elderly people, kids, or those who have health conditions. But make sure you’re using the right hand sanitiser products for it to be effective.

Finding An Effective Hand Sanitiser

To combat the novel coronavirus or COVID-19, hand sanitiser must be your best friend. However, should you go for alcohol free hand sanitiser or those with ethanol / isopropyl alcohol?

First off, alcohol-free hand sanitisers contain active ingredients called quaternary ammonium compounds to reduce microbes. These agents are less effective than alcohol, but they are better for the skin because they do not dry out your hands.

On the other hand, alcohol-based hand sanitiser contains 60 to 75 percentage of alcohol, ethanol and isopropanol. Also, some contain natural ingredients like tea tree oil, aloe vera, & some denaturalized alcohol.

Generally, it is up to your preference to decide whether to go for non-alcohol based hand sanitisers or to stick with some ethanol alcohol as hand disinfectants.

But, what do health advisory committees and experts have to say about buying hand sanitisers?

Which Hand Sanitiser Should You Buy?

Not all hand sanitisers are created equal. Some are more effective than others in killing germs and viruses, so you need to choose wisely.

To kill germs, health experts and the Center for Disease Control (CDC) recommend using a hand sanitiser that is made up of at least 60% alcohol. Hand sanitisers with alcohol content lesser than 60% will not work as well for many types of germs. They would simply reduce the growth of germs instead of killing them outright.

To kill the coronavirus, you will need a hand sanitiser with at least 70% alcohol concentration. Several studies revealed that sanitisers with alcohol content between 60–95% are more effective at killing viruses and bacteria than those non-alcohol-based hand sanitisers or those with a lower alcohol concentration.

When you’re buying hand sanitiser, you may encounter hand sanitisers containing benzalkonium chloride instead of alcohol. Stay away from hand sanitisers with this ingredient because they are not recommended by health experts. Benzalkonium chloride was found to have less reliable activity against certain bacteria and viruses when compared to alcohol based hand sanitisers.

If you’re looking for effective hand sanitisers, check out Sydney Solvents’ range of hand sanitisers that reduce bacteria on the skin, leaving hands feeling refreshed without stickiness or residue. You can also choose from bubblegum or lemon-scented hand sanitisers so that you don’t smell like alcohol all the time.

How to Use Hand Sanitisers

Hand sanitisers are only effective when used correctly. Here’s a guide on how to properly use antibacterial hand sanitisers to make sure they kill germs and viruses on your hands:

  1. Pour the recommended amount on the palm of your hand. Make sure it's enough to cover the entire surface of both hands.
  2. Distribute the sanitiser all over, paying special attention to the fingertips because that's where you touch most other things.
  3. Continue to rub the hand sanitiser into your hands for 20 seconds or until your skin is completely dry.
  4. Don’t wipe off the hand sanitiser. Make sure it stays on your skin for the given period of time.


Washing your hands is the best way to protect against viruses that cause viral diseases, such as the coronavirus. But when there’s no soap and water available, the next best solution is to use alcohol-based hand sanitisers with more than 60% alcohol content. You can use it when you go to the grocery or when traveling, making sanitising more convenient.

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