Why 80% alcohol is much better than the 60% alcohol in most hand sanitizer

Why 80% alcohol is much better than the 60% alcohol in most hand sanitizer

Kimberly Hartzel

As an informed consumer you should spend as much time looking at your hand sanitizer ingredient list as you do at the grocery store checking in on how much sugar your cereal contains. Because unfortunately, as with most products - not all hand sanitizers are made the same. Before you purchase your hand sanitizer, look at the ingredient list to see what active ingredients your hand sanitizer contains. The active ingredient in alcohol-based hand sanitizers will either be ethanol or isopropanol.

But don’t stop there – look for the percentage of alcohol your sanitizer contains – simply put the higher percentage the better it will protect you and your family. If it is ethanol based alcohol,  the FDA and World Health Organization formula must contain at least 80% Alcohol and there is strong reason for that recommendation, especially during this new Health emergency.

It is easy to want to buy the lowest priced hand sanitizer but what are you putting at risk? There are reasons why some hand sanitizers are selling for a much lower cost than others. Compare ingredients to ingredients – the higher alcohol percentage (active ingredients that will kill viruses) the better chance of your sanitizer being effective – plain and simple. If the percentage of alcohol is lower, other cheaper ingredients are being added to the formula and the good stuff that actually kills the virus is much lower.

During this Health Emergency, hand sanitizer companies must be committed to the 80% Ethanol Alcohol FDA recommended formula. Ethanol is highly effective at 80% concentration, which is the level where the alcohol will inactivate an enveloped virus within 30 seconds. Anything less than 80% just might not do the job especially if not applied properly.

Check out this link to the FDA listing the requirements for hand sanitizer. No product will be listed with the FDA unless if has met the following requirements:

The finished hand sanitizer product is manufactured according to the following formula consistent with World Health Organization (WHO) recommendations: 31 a. Alcohol (ethanol) (formulated to 80%, volume/volume (v/v)) in an aqueous solution; or Isopropyl Alcohol (formulated to 75%, v/v) in an aqueous solution. 32, 33 b. Glycerin (glycerol) (1.45% v/v). (See page 9 of FDA document.)

This information comes from a recent Forbes article analyzing some of the latest European and German efficacy studies.

"At concentration of 60%, Ethanol might work against germs generally, but not coronaviruses specifically. Studies showed that 80% is effective against enveloped viruses within 30 seconds, which means that at lower concentrations it will take longer — maybe a minute, by which time the alcohol might have evaporated from the skin before it could have the desired effect. People tend to squirt a few drops of hand sanitizer into the palm of one hand then rub their hands together for a few seconds, and 60% ethanol wouldn't be effective enough over that time scale." (How Much Alcohol Do You Really Need In Hand Sanitizer? JV Chamary, Forbes.com)

An interesting note for Gel hand sanitizer users, The studies also show that Gel might not be as effective as Liquid Sanitizer so get those spray bottle out 😊