Alcohol-Based Vs Alcohol-Free Hand Sanitiser

Hand sanitisers have become a common item we carry on our persons, in the office, schools, retail, hospitality and healthcare facilities. Hand sanitisers play a vital role in infection control, but with so many hygiene products available on the market, it can be difficult to know which type of hand sanitiser or disinfectant you need.

Alcohol-free hand sanitiser Alcohol hand sanitiser

It is recommended that hand sanitisers with an alcohol content of 60% or more should be used. Sanitisers combat the bacteria, viruses and other pathogens that threaten our health every day.

It still leaves us with many questions. Which hand sanitiser works the best? What type of hand sanitiser is the most effective? Alcohol-based or alcohol-free hand sanitiser?

In this post, we are going to go through the advantages and disadvantages of both alcohol and alcohol-free hand sanitiser.

Alcohol-Based Hand Sanitiser

Alcohol-based hand sanitiser gel has been recommended by a number of public health governing bodies globally. Alcohol-based sanitisers are brilliant at killing bacteria and viruses on our hands but you may have noticed some drawbacks from using the chemical.

Advantages of using alcohol hand sanitisers:

  • It kills germs. No one can dispute alcohol’s ability to kill germs and bacteria. Hand sanitiser has proven to be effective in the workplace, at home and on the go, helping reduce the spread of viruses including the most recent SARS-CoV-2.
  • Accessibility. Soap and water are always recommended when you wash your hands but when soap and water are not available a small bottle of hand sanitiser can feel like a lifesaver, especially if you are always out and about. The bottle of sanitiser can be stored conveniently in your pocket, handbag or on a desk/surface nearby.
  • It’s cost-effective and long-lasting. Most hand sanitisers are low-cost and have a shelf life of 2-3 years. Small bottles can last for weeks at a time with consistent use, while large bottles can last for months, making less of a need for frequent purchases.

Disadvantages of using alcohol hand sanitiser:

  • Alcohol products have been shown to strip away the skin’s natural sebum and lipids which are there to protect the surface of the skin. This can lead to dryness, dermatitis, and in some cases, bacterial infections.
  • There tends to be less variance between brands as the formulations tend not to differ greatly.
  • Alcohol provides quick kill rates, but it also evaporates quickly once on the skin, meaning most alcohol products cannot offer residual antimicrobial protection.
  • There is a risk of alcohol poisoning if consumed, but generally, alcohol sanitisers are considered safe when used as directed.
  • Alcohol sanitisers can present a fire risk/hazard and should be stored in a safe manner accordingly.

Alcohol-Free Foam Hand Sanitisers

When we as the consumer thinks about hand sanitiser we tend to automatically think of the alcohol-based gels you can pick up from the supermarket. However, there are a number of alcohol-free hand sanitisers that are available on the market, the Flourish™ Professional Alcohol-Free Foam Hand Sanitiser being one of them.

Unlike alcohol-based sanitisers, alcohol-free hand sanitisers do not really have any disadvantages apart from they may not be as effective on bacteria, viruses and other microbes depending on which brand you go for.

Advantages of using alcohol-free sanitisers:

  • Residual protection. The protection from an alcohol-based sanitiser is only as long as you can feel it on your skin – once it evaporates, the protection ends. In contrast, alcohol-free hand sanitisers, particularly essential oil-based ones, allow the anti-bacterial oils within them to permeate the skin allowing for a longer-lasting & deeper cleansing effect.
  • Kind on the environment. Most if not all alcohol hand sanitisers are naturally derived and made from plant extracts. This means they are not the only kind on your skin but also the environment, unlike alcohol-based.
  • Improves skin conditions. Alcohol hand sanitisers leave hands dry, cracked and not very nice at all. On the other hand, alcohol-free hand sanitisers normally contain some oil or aloe vera gel to actually help maintain & improve skin condition and even moisturise dry hands.
  • Non-flammable. Alcohol-free hand sanitisers are naturally derived and do not contain any alcohol. They are easier to store as they do not pose a threat.
  • No fragrance/odourless.
  • Food safe.

Make the change

Safety-wise, one of the most distressing things about alcohol-based sanitisers is their potential for misuse or injury due to accidents. There have been several cases of people, particularly children, sustaining burns because of misuse, as they are not aware of the dangers of bringing open flames close to anyone using sanitiser. There is also a risk of poisoning from ingesting alcohol hand sanitisers, mainly with children.

Choosing the right antibacterial hand sanitiser is down to preference but from our point of view, alcohol-free hand sanitisers are safer for the environment, our children and our skin.