Some hygienic truths are self-evident.
Even in the early days of our conscious medical hygienic fight against germs and bacteria, long before the word novel coronavirus appeared in a medical journal or was used at least once by almost every American at least once a day, alcohol’s remarkable ability to serve as a germ-killing agent was clearly evident.
Which hand sanitizer alcohol percentage is most effective?
In 1903 the Boston Medical and Surgical Journal reported on the efficiency of ethyl alcohol at neutralizing germs and bacteria. After well over a century under the microscope, this colorless, clear liquid’s standing as a superb hand cleaner is undisputed. And when it comes to determining the most effective alcohol-based hand sanitizer, 60% is the magic number.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Preventions officially recommends hand sanitizer comprised of at least 60 percent alcohol as an effective tool for neutralizing germs and harmful bacteria when soap and water are not available. Numerous studies have verified the CDC’s conclusion, including a 2020 Thailand trial that found a compulsory hand hygiene program of regularly-timed used of sanitizer produced fewer lost school days among kindergarteners due to respiratory infections and fewer sick days among workers.
Does hand sanitizer kill viruses such as the rhinovirus or coronavirus?
Even more convincing evidence came from an American Society for Microbiology study that found ethanol-based hand sanitizers were significantly more effective at eliminating rhinovirus – the virus that causes the common cold – than washing with soap and water. The study also found hands cleansed with sanitizer remained disinfected for four hours.
“These products provide a convenient alternative when hand washing with plain soap and water is unavailable,” notes Dr. Janet Woodcock, director of the Food and Drug Administration’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research.
From gels to foams to sprays to wipes, alcohol-based hand sanitizers like B4 Brands’ Avant Original Fragrance-Free Hand Sanitizer (which boasts a 60-percent alcohol base) are helping millions of Americans successfully repel germs and bacteria and stay healthy during the COVID-19 pandemic. Office workers, teachers, doctors and patients, and students turn to ethyl-alcohol hand sanitizers daily.
“The alcohol acts as what’s called a denaturing agent, versus soap, which acts as a detergent,” Boston-based dermatopathologist Gretchen Frieling reports. “Essentially, alcohol kills or inactivates viruses.”
Alcohol-based hand sanitizers help conserve water, kill bacteria faster than washing hands with soap and water (neutralizing germs and bacteria in as little as 15 seconds), save time and provide an instant, nearly 100-percent germ-killing cleansing option when a sink is not readily available.
The average hand sanitizer contains about 62 percent ethanol. The higher the alcohol content, studies show, the more effective hand sanitizer is at combating germs, bacteria, and helping people stave off the cold and flu. Hand sanitizers with less than 60% ethanol or non-ethanol-based sanitizers, may not be as effective as killing a variety of bacteria, viruses, fungi or microbes, and may only limit their growth, rather than killing them.
To effectively kill enveloped stronger viruses such as the coronavirus and strong variants like the delta variant, sanitizer’s needed alcohol concentrate is not as clear.
“At concentration of 60%, ethanol might work against germs generally, but not coronavirus specifically,” Forbes journalist and science communicator JV Chamary writes. “According to a systematic review of scientific studies by Gunter Kampf of the Institute of Hygiene and Environmental Medicine, Germany, ethanol is highly effective at 80% concentration, which is the level where the alcohol will inactivate an enveloped virus within 30 seconds.
“At 43% ethanol starts working against the original SARS-CoV-1, whose structure is almost identical to the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19.”
And in today’s uncertain and dangerous health climate, 60% alcohol-based hand sanitizer gives us another layer of protection against the invisible strong health threats we are all facing on a daily basis.
“In instances where you might not be near a bathroom or just want extra protection, hand sanitizers are the next best thing (to handwashing), especially as we’re all trying to prevent the spread of COVID-19,” Allure’s Sarah Han writes.
Popular Avant Hand Santizers (at least 60% ethanol)