Anne Guignon, RDH, MPH, CSP - January 24, 2022

Selecting a hand sanitizer– What are your criteria?

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Woman’s Health Magazine recently published an article about hand sanitizers. The commentary mentioned that hand sanitizers should contain at least 60% alcohol, but the real focus was on trendy packaging, rather than the scientific merits of the products.1

Like any other commodity, all hand sanitizers are not created equal. What might be fine in a casual setting, may not meet the criteria for use in the health care environment. While it might seem natural to focus first on the price, this discussion looks at four different areas of consideration, with price being the last. 

Antimicrobial efficacy

A hand sanitizer in the clinical setting needs to either kill or quickly inactivate microbes - bacteria, viruses, and fungi. In today’s world the spotlight is on corona viruses, but the product needs to be effective on all three categories. Reputable products are tested by independent laboratories against standard microbes that are known to be particularly hard to kill. The CDC recommends alcohol content of hand sanitizers fall between 60 to 95%. The most common products fall in the 60% to 70% range.2

Ease of application

Have you ever noticed how many hand sanitizing stations have drip plates or a soggy paper towel under the dispenser? Messy, drippy hand sanitizers are annoying. There is enough time to thoroughly coat all skin surfaces with a high viscosity antimicrobial gel. Gels that dry quickly are wonderful, but only if the user’s skin does not dry out and there is no sticky residue. Minimal fragrance is becoming increasingly important. An increasing number of people are sensitive to fragrance of any sort. Hand sanitizers meant to be antimicrobial, not a source of an annoying smell. 

Packaging and unit dose cost

There are growing concerns regarding excess packaging. While packaging might create a fashion statement, is there too much or can it be recycled? According to EPA data, plastics represented over 12% of all municipal waste generated in 2018, and only 4.5% of plastic packaging and containers were recycled. The EPA found plastics accounted for 18% of the waste in municipal landfills.3 

Unlike food waste, wood, or paper, plastic does not degrade quickly. With this in mind, is it possible to purchase a professional strength hand sanitizer in a larger container and simply refill smaller containers? Purchasing options like this cut down on landfill waste and reduce the overall unit dose cost. 

A new option

The new ZaPro hand sanitizing gel meets the criteria outlined above. It is easy to use, dries quickly, leaves skin feeling silky smooth, and there is no sticky residue or overpowering fragrance. Due to its unique properties, it is very easy to put on exam gloves as soon as the sanitizer is dry. From a clinical standpoint, this makes life easier, and who doesn’t like easier?

- Anne Guignon, RDH, MPH, CSP

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1. Nied J. The 15 Best Hand Sanitizers Of 2021, According To Experts. Published November 1, 2021. Accessed January 3, 2022.

2. Show me the science – When & how to use hand sanitizer in community settings. Page last reviewed: September 10, 2020. Accessed November 15, 2021.

3. National overview: Facts and figures on materials, wastes and recycling