Which is Better – Alcohol or Non-Alcohol Hand Sanitiser?

It’s fair to say that over the last 18 months we’ve all become a lot more conscious when it comes to hand hygiene.

From singing ‘happy birthday’ as we scrub our mitts to celebrities taking part in campaigns to show us the most diligent hand washing techniques, in the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic it became a crucial form of defence against the virus. 

While this basic hygiene should have been practised long before coronavirus arrived, most of us are more aware of its importance than ever before. 

Hand sanitiser has also become commonplace in our homes, cars and handbags, but with so many different types and brands out there, it can be difficult to know the best type to go for. 

There are two forms of hand sanitiser; alcohol and non-alcohol sanitisers. In this article, we’ll take a closer look at both types and discuss the key differences and benefits.

Alcohol Hand Sanitiser 

Alcohol hand sanitiser typically includes ethanol, which targets a virus’ lipid. A lipid is a fatty layer that contains the virus’ genetic material – the bit that can cause us harm if it gets into our body. 

These types of sanitisers break down this layer, meaning the virus cannot work effectively. However, when it comes to coronavirus, scientists state that the alcohol content of the hand sanitiser needs to be 60% or higher to be effective. With so many brands on the market, make sure to check the information to ensure the product you’re buying has at least this much alcohol within it. 

So, the good news is that they’re extremely effective at combating COVID-19. 

However, there are a few concerns to be aware of. 

Firstly, the high level of alcohol in these sanitisers means that they can be somewhat of a fire safety risk. While the chances are relatively low, if you work in a healthcare facility or other large-scale organisations it’s worth updating your fire safety protocols if you’re planning to install alcohol-based hand sanitiser dispensers. As well as this, alcohol hand sanitiser can be toxic if ingested, so be sure to supervise children when it is being used. 

Dry or cracked palms have also been noted as a side effect of regular use of alcohol-based hand sanitisers.

Non-Alcohol Hand Sanitiser 

The alternative to alcohol is non-alcohol based hand sanitisers. Commonly coming in soapy and foamy forms, this type of hand sanitiser is also effective against coronavirus. 

However, it works in a slightly different way with these sanitisers dissolving the lipid, causing the virus to fall apart, rendering it unable to attach to human cells. 

Overall, the scientific consensus is that non-alcohol based hand sanitisers are not as effective as alcohol versions. Instead, they were manufactured to address common consumer complaints with alcohol hand sanitiser – they don’t pose a fire risk, they’re less problematic if ingested and they’re kinder to our hands. 

While popular with users and commonplace in a range of commercial, retail and non-residential settings, they’re unlikely to catch on in healthcare environments due to alcohol equivalents being considered more effective.          

Which is better?

As long as they’re used properly, both alcohol and non-alcohol hand sanitiser provides effective protection against coronavirus. However, the World Health Organisation (WHO) recommends that alcohol hand sanitisers are the best ones to go for. 

Despite this, it’s important to consider your own personal circumstances and weigh up the pros and cons of both options. For instance, if you work or manage a healthcare setting, then hand sanitiser containing alcohol is undoubtedly the way to go and will probably be required in order to meet health and safety guidelines.  

But, if you’re worried about the risk of fire or the sanitiser being ingested (particularly if you work with children or vulnerable people) then it may be safer to choose a non-alcohol based solution. These options are usually cheaper, too.

Remember, while hand sanitiser is a useful tool to fight viruses, it is not a replacement for good hand washing, which should remain at the forefront of your hand hygiene and the primary way to combat COVID-19.         

At Envirotec Services, we’re industry leaders when it comes to enhancing the safety and hygiene of your commercial, healthcare and non-residential premises. From hygiene products to commercial bathroom and kitchen services, we take care of every aspect of your organisation’s hygiene, working throughout Rotherham, Doncaster, Leicester and surrounding areas. This includes providing hand sanitiser dispensers for customers in a variety of sectors. You can choose from our alcohol or non-alcohol based hand sanitisers, and for more information get in touch with the team today.