Combined with wearing a mask and practicing social distancing, keeping your hands clean is essential in preventing the spread of the novel coronavirus, as well as other germs that can cause the common Flu. Of course, washing your hands is the gold standard, but hand sanitizer is a great option if don’t have access to soap and water. As we navigate flu season (and the upcoming waves of Covid-19), a bottle of hand sanitizer is a must-have. But choosing the right brand isn’t always simple.
What to look for in an effective hand sanitizer
Hand sanitizer is just alcohol suspended in a hand rub, which neutralizes germs that might be lurking on your hands, including SARS-CoV-2, the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends hand sanitizers that contain at least 60% ethanol (ethyl alcohol) or 70% isopropanol.
Coronaviruses (which also cause the common cold) are “enveloped viruses.” This means they have an outer membrane, which is known to be killed or inactivated by alcohol-based hand sanitizers. However, with a lower concentration of alcohol (or even contamination from other kinds of alcohol like (methanol or 1- Propanol), sanitizers could be ineffective or even toxic. Long story short: Check the alcohol percentage and buy from trusted brands, like the ones below.
Which is better: hand sanitizer or hand-washing?
When you’re at the grocery store or on public transportation, hand sanitizer is a great stopgap solution to make sure your hands are as clean as they can be—but it doesn’t replace soap and water. When you have access to a sink, you should practice thorough hand washing instead of just sanitizing, especially if your hands are visibly dirty.
Hand-washing is more effective because the combination of soap, water, and rubbing kills coronaviruses while also protecting you from other pathogens. When you gain access to a sink, make sure you wash your hands for at least 20 seconds as soon as you can, even if you’ve already used hand sanitizer.
What’s the best way to use hand sanitizer?
Just like when you wash your hands, the CDC recommends that you cover your hands in sanitizer and rub them together until they’re dry, which should take around 20 seconds. Don’t forget to rub for as long as you can, and don’t think of your hands as entirely clean after—still refrain from touching your face and others in public.
Got all that? Great, now it’s time to pick out the best hand sanitizer. Below, you can shop effective options (which all exceed CDC requirements) to keep you germ- and worry-free this flu season and beyond.
Hand sanitizer doesn’t need any bells and whistles to be effective. This 34-ounce, 63% ethanol option is one of the cheapest bottles available. Plus, it has vitamin E to make it less drying.
Germ-X Hand Sanitizer, 12-PackWe’re still Staring Down Months (or longer) of the COVID-19 pandemic, and these 12 bottles of 62% ethanol Germ-X should last at least that long. These easily fit in purses, car caddies, and desks.
Everyone’s spray was named the best hand sanitizer in Prevention’s 2020 Wellness Award for its natural ingredients, great smell, easy-to-carry size, and 62% ethanol formula.
Constant hand washing and applying sanitizer can leave your hands cracked and dry. Acure’s five-ounce bottle includes moisturizing Aloe Vera and 70% ethanol to fight both dryness and germs.
This convenient hand sanitizer packs 75% alcohol and offers a continuous mist for easy disinfecting. Unlike most aerosols, Breathe uses nitrogen gas in its formula, which makes up most of the air we naturally breathe (get it?!). Bonus: It earned a seal of approval from our partners at the Good Housekeeping Institute.
Sustainable brand by Humankind’s 65% ethanol hand sanitizer comes in recyclable aluminum containers with a reusable pump lid. Even better, it ships in completely recyclable packaging, too.
Michelle Pfeiffer’s Henry Rose fragrance brand is actually really good. The brand’s first-hand sanitizer is surprisingly giftable, with ethanol, moisturizing aloe, and a light, clean, luxurious scent.
On the other side of the spectrum, Pipette’s cheap, unscented hand sanitizer is a great option for those who’d rather skip the fragrance. With 65% ethanol and squalane for moisture, you’ll feel squeaky clean.
Of course, the moisturizing experts at Dove created one of the most nourishing hand sanitizers on the market. With 61% ethanol and a hydrating blend of ingredients, it’s ideal for staying safe during the colder months.
Of course, cleaning aisle favorite Dr. Bronner’s also makes a great hand sanitizer. This travel option is made with 62% organic, fair-trade ethanol, and lavender oil, and it smells heavenly.
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