Customers often ask, “Which is better, gel or foam hand sanitizer?” The answer I generally give is answer, “Whichever type your healthcare workers, students, employees, or staff prefer and will use more often.” I would much prefer to give a direct answer, but the honest answer really is that it is a personal preference. We recently conducted a poll on our website asking which type of sanitizer visitors preferred, gel or foam. The results were almost 50/50. Half prefer foam and half prefer gel. This presents a challenge to institutional hand hygiene purchasers. If half of your product users prefer gel and half prefer foam, which do you buy? My advice, solicit feedback and include product users in the decision process. Then, make the best decision you can, knowing that you are going to make the majority of product users happy.
Let me describe a few of the advantages and disadvantages of foam and gel hand sanitizer.
What are the advantages of foam hand sanitizer?
A real advantage of foam hand sanitizer is that the product clings to hands during the application of the product. It does not easily slide off the hands like gel hand sanitizers can. This can be very important in facilities with waxed floors as sanitizer drips can leave marks on waxed floors. Plus, when more sanitizer stays on your hands, more hand sanitizer is available to kill the germs on hands.
Some hand sanitizer users believe that foam sanitizer is easier to spread around the hands. This is possibly because the foam is raised off the skin and can easily be pushing around the hands. I tend to believe however that this is simply a preference as I hear the same “advantage” from people who prefer gel.
A common, but misguided “advantage” I sometimes hear from people about foam sanitizer is that “you use less sanitizer per application, so it’s cheaper per application.” While it’s true that most foam pumps have a smaller output per push than a gel pump, I would caution against this math. For a hand sanitizer to be effective, the hands need to stay wet with alcohol for 15 seconds. Simply using less sanitizer per application would save money. But, if the effectiveness of the application is diminished due to insufficient volume then this would not be an advantage.
What are the disadvantages of foam hand sanitizer?
Foam hand sanitizers tend to be more expensive. That is mainly because the pumps and ingredients that make the alcohol foam are rather expensive compared to a gel formulation and pump.
What are the advantages of gel hand sanitizer?
Gel sanitizers have been available for decades and most people seem to understand well how to use them. In fact, I just witnessed a middle school student perform a perfect application; spreading the product on the fronts, backs, in between fingers, and pressing finger tips and cuticles into the palm.
Some people believe that gels are easier to slide around the hands, in between fingers and around to the backs of the hands. Others believe that gels are easier to use around fingernails because the gel flows into the cuticles.
What Are the disadvantages of a Gel Hand Sanitizer?
The only real disadvantage is that gels can drip from the hands. Hand sanitizer drips can leave marks on the floor and less hand sanitizer on the hands means that fewer germs will be killed.
In the end, I’m sticking with my answer. The best hand sanitizer choice, between foam and gel, depends on which type your healthcare workers, students, employees, or staff will use more often. I would recommend conducting a trial of both options, collecting feedback, and let the product users decide.
We offer our Avant hand sanitizers in both foam and gel. One great feature of our Eco-Flex dispensers is that they will work with both foam and gel refills. So, you can change between a gel and foam formulation without the time and expense of changing dispensers.