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Choosing hand sanitizers
January 14, 2009 9:26 PM   Subscribe

Does brand name truly matter when shopping for hand sanitizers?

Purell is the brand I automatically think of, but it seems that the drug store brand or other generic brands out there are cheaper. The ingredients seem to mostly be the same. And if I understand the concept correctly, it's mainly the alcohol in the sanitizer that kills the germs. So seriously, what is the difference between the brand name or generic? Is there a reason to trust a recognized name over a generic one? Does anyone have any preferences?
posted by saturn25 to Health & Fitness (17 answers total)
 
I imagine they might smell differently and that matters to some folks.
posted by otherwordlyglow at 9:45 PM on January 14, 2009


"Hand sanitizer" is just gelled alcohol. The only variance is going to be the perfumes and dyes added.

Unless the perfume offends you, or the dye irritates you, but whatever one is cheapest.
posted by Netzapper at 9:48 PM on January 14, 2009


Short answer: they are all the same.
My answer: I vastly prefer the Purell+Vitamin E to everything else I've tried based purely on handfeel. I really hate the Germ-X stuff. YMMV.
posted by phunniemee at 9:51 PM on January 14, 2009


No, they all burn the same, and when you flick a burning glob from a spoon they all make great playtime napalm.

Gelled alcohol plus scent plus color, as Netzapper says.
posted by rokusan at 9:58 PM on January 14, 2009 [3 favorites]


IANAS, but speaking as someone who applies hand sanitizer an average of at least 10 times a day, I would and do buy generic. Germs are not impressed by marketing budgets.
posted by Joe Beese at 10:13 PM on January 14, 2009 [1 favorite]


Certainly is not going to affect their sanitizing capacity. As far as taking care of your skin I think you're better off handling that as a separate issue.
posted by nanojath at 10:19 PM on January 14, 2009


Nope, they are all universally equally inferior to washing with warm water & soap, according to recent research.
posted by IAmBroom at 10:22 PM on January 14, 2009 [5 favorites]


Just be sure the one you buy contains at least 62% alcohol. A while back unscrupulous profiteers were selling watered down versions (less alcohol) that didn't actually kill all the germs.
posted by exphysicist345 at 11:17 PM on January 14, 2009 [2 favorites]


IAmBroom: The research you refer to is old and sketchy at best. The latest research actually shows that hand sanitizers are extremely effective and don't cause "rebound" effects as a couple of researchers feared 8 or 9 years ago. In fact, some hospitals are moving to foam sanitizers as more research shows hand sanitizers to be possibly even more effective than soap and water in preventing the spread of viruses and bacteria due to the time required to use soap and water properly.

I will give the balance of my time to the Mayo Clinic:

"Alcohol-based hand sanitizers — which don't require water — are an excellent alternative to hand washing, particularly when soap and water aren't available. They're actually more effective than soap and water in killing bacteria and viruses that cause disease. Commercially prepared hand sanitizers contain ingredients that help prevent skin dryness. Using these products can result in less skin dryness and irritation than hand washing."

"Not all hand sanitizers are created equal, though. Some "waterless" hand sanitizers don't contain alcohol. Use only the alcohol-based products. The CDC recommends choosing products that contain at least 60 percent alcohol."

More from the Mayo Clinic.

phunniemee: I actually like Germ-X!
posted by Gerard Sorme at 1:43 AM on January 15, 2009 [5 favorites]


I prefer the Purell one that's lotiony (don't remember the packaging - might say "extra moisturizing" or something). The alcohol dries out your hands toute de suite. If you're using it more than once a day, you want something to re-introduce moisture to your poor crackling skin. I swore by this stuff when I taught preschool and literally did not have time to wash my hands.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 5:55 AM on January 15, 2009


Washing versus sanitizing- You should wash properly with regular soap (not anti-bacterial soap- it's bad) and then sanitize with an alcohol based sanitizer. That's the best combo.

Washing removes the vast majority of bugs, and then the sanitizer knocks out the rest.

some hospitals are moving to foam sanitizers as more research shows hand sanitizers to be possibly even more effective than soap and water in preventing the spread of viruses and bacteria due to the time required to use soap and water properly.

This is scary- what it sounds like they are saying is that handwashing is plenty effective, but that hospital staff aren't doing it right. And that sanitizers are the next best thing.

rant- If you can't trust your health care professionals to properly wash their hands, who can you trust? How is it OK that hospitals are the places that created things like MRSA? For all the money they go through, you'd think basic sanitation would be top of the list. Imagine the money they'd save doing things like thoroughly washing everything versus trying to treat hospital-spread disease?
posted by gjc at 6:00 AM on January 15, 2009


They're the same stuff in different bottles. My wife works in soap. Sometimes it's just a matter of changing the bottles, and keeping the soap line running the whole time.

(of course, they also have multiple products from the same label - one upmarket and one downmarket - on the same line, too.)
posted by notsnot at 6:49 AM on January 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


Even if there was universal agreement about the superiority of soap-and-water, if the public bathroom you're using requires you to pull a door handle to get out, as some poor designs do, you're going to pick up a whole new set of nasties unless you grab it with your shirt collar or something.

I trust in the killing power of alcohol.
posted by Joe Beese at 6:57 AM on January 15, 2009


Cleanwell (warning! annoying music on the site!) is a nice green alternative that is highly effective and completely non-toxic, so great for kids (who constantly put their hands in their mouths) and less drying than alcohol.
posted by judith at 8:16 AM on January 15, 2009


Gerard Sorme - thanks for the updated info.
posted by IAmBroom at 8:40 AM on January 15, 2009


Even if there was universal agreement about the superiority of soap-and-water, if the public bathroom you're using requires you to pull a door handle to get out, as some poor designs do, you're going to pick up a whole new set of nasties unless you grab it with your shirt collar or something.

A common misconception.

http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2007/06/25/health/webmd/main2976179.shtml?source=RSSattr=Health_2976179

http://www.infoweek.ca/index.php/CIO-Central/index.php?option=com_virtuemart&Itemid=43&category_id=10&flypage=shop.flypage&lang=en&manufacturer_id=0&page=shop.product_details&product_id=2223&vmcchk=1

http://abcnews.go.com/GMA/story?id=2859060

http://www.poopreport.com/BMnewswire/bathroom_doors.html
posted by gjc at 5:35 PM on January 15, 2009


rokusan - don't you make patterns on the driveway or sand, set them aflame, and film it?

I'm frankly surprised to find so many people on using hand sanitizer for hygiene. It's not a toy?

The gel qualities allow you to make ridged shapes that hold pools of lighter fluid in place. God, I love it.

Get mine at the dollar store.
posted by Lesser Shrew at 6:00 PM on January 16, 2009


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