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How to Pick a Hand Sanitizer

So you’re standing at the drug store and trying to decide what hand sanitizer to buy. There is a whole shelf and all are claiming to be the best. How do you make your decision? The one that works the best, right?

What most people don’t know is that it’s near useless to try and pick a hand sanitizer by “what kills most” or “what kills best.” All legally marketed hand sanitizers, every single one, must comply with the FDA regulations around labels & active ingredients which means, in order to be a hand sanitizer, you must be able to “kill the same.”

One quick way to determine if a respective hand sanitizer complies with FDA regulations is to review the labeling. Legally marketed hand sanitizers will include a “drug box” on the product labeling. The drug box will identify the active ingredient, the purpose of the product, intended uses of the product, warnings, directions for use, and a list of all inactive ingredients in the product.

If all the hand sanitizers on the shelf appear to comply with FDA labeling requirements, we suggest choosing a hand sanitizer that feels good on your skin and one that you enjoy using. There are a few criteria to keep in mind.


Most hand sanitizers utilize alcohol as the active ingredient, typically Ethanol. Alcohol is effective in greatly reducing bacteria on the skin while also quickly evaporating off your hands. The only problem is Ethanol has a very strong smell. It’s important that you find a fragrance to minimize the initial alcohol smell, but not so much that it’s overpowering and lingers once the alcohol has evaporated.

Some companies have combated this by using non-alcohol hand sanitizers, which utilize other active ingredients such as quaternary compounds. They are effective, but take much longer to dry off of the hands than alcohol based sanitizers, so they are a little inconvenient. In addition, the CDC says specifically to use alcohol based hand sanitizers.

Keep in mind, Ethanol is denatured with a purposefully bitter and repugnant taste to prevent the possibility that a child may accidentally drink hand sanitizer. While you should always monitor children around hand sanitizer, water-based hand sanitizers are also toxic, so the best rule of thumb is to keep an eye on the little ones. To learn more about safety with children around hand sanitizer please check out our other blog post.


Alcohol can be drying if used alone which not only can be uncomfortable but lead to cracking and chaffing skin, particularly for people who use it repeatedly, such as health care providers who use it before and after each patient. The goal when creating a formula should be to have enough moisturizers to prevent drying out of skin, even with continued use. However, it is a balance. Too much moisturizer and it can leave the hands feeling tacky or cause those “little black balls of stuff” left behind on the hands.

Really it’s all on consumer preference. We suggest trying several brands and looking for one that you like. Look for ingredients that add moisture and a fragrance you enjoy. Our own hand sanitizer is made with aloe vera for moisturizing properties.

If you are interested in purchasing our hand sanitizer or learning more please e-mail

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