Hand Sanitizers

Good Question : Do Hand Sanitizers Kill The Flu Virus and what is better Soap or Sanitizer?

Here is a link to an interesting video that was on the news here in MN last week.


Type in ( Hand Sanitizer ) in the search bar and other interesting videos will come up including a video labeled  sanitizer or soap that you may find interesting.

  • There are non-alcohol hand sanitizers that have efficacy data that kill the flu virus.   Even the CDC has admitted that some non-alcohol hand sanitizers have been found effective.  One manufacterer of non-alcohol hand sanitizers even tested their product with specific efficacy data against H1N1 last summer.

  • In reply to JanSanMan:

    This is actually a widely misunderstood topic and many people are making false or at least unproven claims. My company is the factory rep in New England for GOJO Industries, the manufacturer of the #1 hand sanitizer on the market, Purell Instand Hand Sanitizer. These types of questions come up a lot and we want to try to help people understand the issues.

    The FDA has VERY strict guidelines and regulations on the type of efficacy claims that manufacturers can make. It is VERY difficult to get approval for a kill claim on a virus and is actually illegal to make those claims if you don't have FDA approval. While many sanitizers may be effective against some viruses (including H1N1), companies are not allowed to market their product as such without the FDA approval. A few of our competitors actually got in trouble over this last year; They were hit with huge fines and forced to take their products off the market. GOJO has always taken the high road and complies with FDA regulations very closely.

    Now, regarding alcohol vs non-alcohol. The reason that so many non-alcohol alternatives popped up last summer was because of the unprecedented demand worldwide for alcohol based hand rubs. The swine flu caused a mass panic more or less and the demand for sanitizers sky rocketed to levels we never would have imagined. For several months there was a large shortage and huge backorders on alcohol products, so several companies started making non-alochol.

    To be completely accurate, the CDC has NOT come out and said that non-alcohol sanitizers are effective. Please see this link for what their current recommendation still states (its about half-way down the page under the heading "Take these every day steps to protect your health").  I quote their recommendation on hand sanitizing:

    "Wash your hands often with soap and water. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand rub.*

    Note the language- The BEST thing to do is wash with soap and water. IF that is not an options, the CDC recommendation is to use alcohol based hand rubs. PERIOD. Now, approximately November 2009 (I believe that was the time, don't quote me on it!), when we were in the alcohol shortage, the CDC ammended this statement and added that asterisk to it. Their "ammended" statement is here

    "*What if soap and water are not available and alcohol-based products are not allowed in my facility?

    If soap and water are not available and alcohol-based products are not allowed, other hand sanitizers that do not contain alcohol may be useful."

    They say that if alcohol based products are not allowed, then non-alcohol "MAY" be useful. They do not state that they are, they say MAY be useful. Another big thing to note is that this is not their recommendation for every day use. This is their recommendation if " alcohol-based products are not allowed in my facility".

    There have been selected regions/ facilities that do not like alcohol-based products for whatever reason. Sometimes it is an infection control nurse that does not like alcohol or does not believe it is effective, and sometimes local fire marshals feel that it poses a fire risk. In both cases, we have plenty of data to backup the fact that Purell is a completely safe and effective way to kill 99.99% of germs when used as directed.

    If anyone would like any more info on Purell, and you are in the New England are, please feel free to contact me (contact info is at my website) . If you are not in New England and have a general question that I can answer here, please feel free to respond. If you need more help, please e-mail me and I can get you linked up with the local rep that would cover your region.

    Thank you,

    David Jolicoeur

    Market Advantage Plus ( Foxboro, MA )



  • In reply to David Jolicoeur:

    When I did research on this topic on the CDC website specific to Novel H1N1, this is what I found:

    What if soap and water are not available and alcohol-based products are not allowed in my facility?


    “Though the scientific evidence is not as extensive as that on hand washing and alcohol-based sanitizers, other hand sanitizers that do not contain alcohol may be useful for killing flu germs on hands.”

    The CDC is usually behind in technology so the words "scientific evidence is not as extensive" means to me that the CDC just may not be on the cutting edge in our industry (again).   The major non-alcohol skin care companies have been working with independent labs and getting kill rates for their efficacy data.

    I seriously doubt that the CDC came out with these types of statements just because Gojo ran out of alcohol.   The CDC has never been fast moving or timely within our industry.   They are very conservative.   I am very greatful that they no longer state to use "1 part bleach to 10 parts water" with everything like they used to.

    I remember when the CDC said to use "strict isolation" and "1 to 10 bleach" mixtures when dealing with VRE and MRSA patients in the mid to late 90's when we had products that were available with EPA registration and efficacy data for both VRE and MRSA.  I am glad that changed...

    If my memory is correct, at one time the CDC stated not to use anything but proper hand washing procedures with hand soap (they were not positive on alcohol hand sanitizers at that time).   I am glad that changed...

    As for alcohol hand sanitizers, the problem is with the flammability and people drinking it.   That is why more accounts like schools, universities, jails, etc. are not wanting to buy alcohol based hand sanitizers.   Thus the market for non-alcohol hand sanitizers came about and the independent lab testing with efficacy data and kill rates have been impressive to say the least.

    It has got the eye of Gojo...they are now developing their own line of non-alcohol based hand sanitizers.

    I am glad we have a forum to have important conversations like this.     That is a good thing.