Hand Sanitiser: The COVID Essential That You Cannot Ignore


COVID-19 is the most talked-about virus that causes life-threatening illness, a danger to global health. Unfortunately, there is no antiviral agent available to curb or treat the condition. Health experts suggest that the only way to keep yourself safe in such a scenario is to follow COVID protocols, including social distancing, wearing a mask, and keeping your hands and surface clean. The most common way to keep our hands clean has constantly been to wash them with a handwash or soap and water. But, with the emergence of COVID, the importance of using a hand sanitiser has also come to light.

We cannot remember a time when sanitisers didn’t exist. Whenever one went out to play or ate their favourite Pani puri, it ceased due to the lack of sanitation. Our moral compass wouldn’t let us devour these delicacies without the proper washing of our hands with soap and water, or our mothers wouldn’t. Someone somewhere luckily felt our pain and devised a portable, quick-absorbing formula that can kill all the germs. It didn’t even require water!

Hand sanitiser became a staple in our lives long back. However, it proved its importance during the COVID-19 crisis. During the first phase of COVID 19, the shortage of sanitisers due to its excessive demand established its place as an essential product. Today, an ordinary bottle of sanitiser is said to have the power to save lives. This article talks about the various types of sanitisers available in the market, their usage, benefits and the precautions you need to take while using them.

The need for hand sanitisers

Earlier, the idea of keeping your hands cleans was limited to washing them using a soap bar or a liquid handwash. That remains an excellent way to keep hands clean and free of harmful germs. However, it isn’t the most convenient option, especially when you’re on the go. Additionally, clean, hygienic water to wash hands with is scarce. That is where sanitisers come in. Squeeze or spray a small amount of liquid or gel from a bottle, rub it on your hands and you are done. Within seconds you’ve killed most of the harmful germs that could otherwise endanger your life.

Sanitisers are a simple invention, yet quite life-changing or life-saving as we should call it. Hand sanitiser, also known as hand antiseptic or hand rub, is applied to the hands for removing common pathogens.

Types of Sanitisers

Based on the viscosity, hand sanitisers are classified into two forms, liquid and gel form. Whereas based on ingredients, hand sanitisers can be classified as alcohol-based hand sanitisers, alcohol-free sanitisers and herbal sanitisers. Now, let us take a look at various types of hand sanitisers.

Gel Based Sanitisers are the most common forms of sanitisers, which are very easy to use. They are known to sanitise your hands without leaving them sticky. In addition, they are easy to dispense, carry in the pocket, or keep in the car. Therefore, gel-based hand sanitisers are an excellent option for keeping your hands clean throughout the day.

Liquid Sanitiser, as the name suggests, is the liquid form of sanitisers. It lacks the density of a gel sanitiser but is equally, if not more, effective. They are usually sprayed from bottles and are good to keep at home or in your office. However, you can best use them to sanitise large surfaces without using up a lot of sanitisers. Liquid hand sanitisers are also convenient for sanitising your phone, care keys, steering wheel, or other accessories you may infect.

Herbal Sanitisers are chemical-free disinfectants and therefore are gentle on the skin. Their chemical-free ingredients are equally effective and don’t leave your hands extremely dry. There are various options from aloe vera to neem to pick from and give out similar earthly scents. Many brands manufacturing herbal hand sanitisers are infusing their sanitisers with essential oils like lavender and lemon. The primary advantage of herbal sanitisers is that the ingredients present are hydrating and prevent your skin from feeling dry and irritated.

Disinfecting Sanitisers come in spray cans and are made for sanitising surfaces. They are incredibly convenient to use, and you can also use a few of them on your hands. Usually, they come in bigger cans, but you can also find them in pen-shaped cans, which are travel friendly.

Alcohol-based Hand Sanitisers usually contain 60-95% alcohol as ethanol, isopropanol or propanol.  Alcohol works effectively, and it immediately denatures proteins. As a result, it effectively neutralises certain types of microorganisms. As a result, medical experts believe alcohol-based sanitisers to be the most effective solution to kill germs and other pollutants present on the surface. Alcohol-based sanitisers come in both gel and liquid forms.

Alcohol-free hand sanitisers are generally made up using disinfectants, such as benzalkonium chloride, or antimicrobial agents, such as triclosan. Disinfectants and antimicrobial agents both start working immediately and are persistent. Many hand sanitisers also contain emollients (e.g. glycerin) that soothe the skin, thickening agents, and fragrance. These sanitisers also come in both gel and liquid forms.

The effectiveness of hand sanitisers depends on the ingredients, correct usage, and the infectious agents present on the surface. Both liquid and gel-based formulations are equally effective and get your hands free from germs and pollutants.

Access use of soap bars and water may make your skin feel dry very often. In addition, washing hands repeatedly with soap is not that convenient. That is why hand sanitiser is always an excellent addition to your buying list. Let us look at a few things to remember before buying a hand sanitiser and precautions to use.

Things to remember

  • Remember, an effective alcohol-based sanitiser should contain at least 60% alcohol content to kill germs effectively. Though it shouldn’t be a problem as most sanitisers have at least 70% ethanol. However, due to shortage and excessive demand, people often sell sanitisers that don’t have enough alcohol in them, so make sure to check before you buy a hand sanitiser.
  • While buying a herbal sanitiser, look for ingredients like tea tree oil, aloe vera etc. Tea tree oil has antibacterial properties, making it as effective as a sanitiser that kills 99.99% of germs. Aloe vera gel is a hydrating ingredient and can help keep your skin moisturised.
  • The only con to hand sanitisers is the dryness in our hands caused due to increased use, which is unavoidable. Unfortunately, an alcohol-based sanitiser cannot be moisturising. So no matter what advertisements tell you, no effective alcohol-based sanitiser will have moisturising properties.
  • To prevent dryness, buy a good hand cream and apply it on your hands every night before sleeping or after using sanitisers. One hack for soft hands is putting on some coconut oil and then put on gloves, keeping them on overnight, and voila! You will wake up to baby-soft hands.
  • Use the hand sanitiser correctly. As recommended by doctors, you should first wash your hands with soap or a liquid hand wash. Then, sanitise your hands. When you are out and don’t have access to a hand wash, just sanitisers would do.
  • Sanitise your hands before touching your face and after touching a surface that may be infected. But remember, overdoing anything can be harmful. So, refrain from overdoing the use of sanitisers.

Sanitisers have become an essential product to have in our lives these days. They are just as crucial as water bottles and wallets. You simply cannot leave the house without them! However, they are not to be taken lightly.

A sanitiser or a face mask can seriously save your life, so don’t ever forget to stock up on both of them, and if you can, buy them for people who can’t.

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