Are alcohol free sanitisers still effective?

Most of us are acutely aware of the struggle to get a hold of hand sanitiser in an age where it’s basically become the new currency. Of course, the number one thing we should be doing before even thinking about hand sanitisers is regularly washing our hands with soap and warm water. That’s THE most effective method of hygiene, as outlined by various health organisations, such as the World Health Organisation and Public Health England.


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But sometimes you’re out and about and aren’t physically able to wash your hands, and so you what do you do? You turn to your trusty portable substitute. And that’s where hand sanitiser comes into play.

Now, we’ve probably all heard about alcohol based sanitisers. They are widely used, even more so now, both in institutions and more recently, for personal use. And when you look at alcohol and non-alcohol based sanitisers, the alcohol one is definitely the more popular of the two.

The overall consensus in science is that alcohol sanitisers need to have at the very least 60% alcohol content in them to effectively kill coronavirus and other viruses. Hand sanitisers with less than 60% alcohol were found to be less effective at killing viruses.

However, alcohol sanitisers do come with its own drawbacks. Even though, alcohol sanitisers provides quick kill rates, it’s also quick to evapourate once on your skin. So, isn’t a product that can give hands residual protection. They can also be quite harsh on your skin, which most of us probably know with how dry and irritated our hands are now!

And that’s where alcohol free sanitisers come in. These usually contain benzalkonium chloride instead of an alcohol like ethanol or isopropanol. They fight bacteria and viruses by disrupting the outer membrane of the germs, which is essential to the survival and multiplication of a virus. This is very similar to how an alcohol sanitiser works.

The Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has said that sanitisers that contain benzalkonium chloride instead of alcohol have been deemed eligible by the U.S Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

The alcohol free sanitisers are kinder to your skin and are suitable for use for all groups, including those who don’t feel comfortable using alcohol-based products for religious or personal reasons.

However, a common misconception is that this thinking applies to Muslims. Followers of Islam don’t consume alcohol as its against their religious beliefs. So, it would be safe to assume that they wouldn’t buy or use alcohol sanitisers, right?

But this doesn’t actually extend to using alcohol-based cleaning or hygiene products as these are considered a necessity, especially during this coronavirus pandemic. And has been recommended for use by leading Islamic schools of law.

However, there will still be Muslims (and others) who may not feel entirely comfortable using alcohol-based products, so the alcohol free sanitisers is perfect for them to stay safe during this pandemic.

Just to note though – the alcohol free sanitisers may not be as effective as their alcohol counterparts. That’s not to say that they don’t work but just don’t have the same effect as alcohol sanitisers. The alcohol free sanitisers reduce the growth of the bacteria and viruses but don’t always kill them outright.

Which just re-iterates the point that the most hygienic and safest method is washing our hands with soap and warm water for the time it takes to sing ‘Happy Birthday’ twice (or 2 mins).

But when this isn’t possible, both alcohol and alcohol free sanitisers are viable substitutes to use to keep those hands safe and clean. At Intelligent Facility Solutions, we offer both alcohol and alcohol free sanitisers for all you and your customers’ needs.

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