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When it comes to preventing the spread of germs, nothing beats soap and water. But if handwashing isn’t an option, the next best thing is to use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
To help you find a hand sanitizer that not only kills germs, but also works for you, we read product reviews, talked to experts, and considered user comments for a variety of products.
After careful consideration, we chose eight top picks for hand sanitizers, each representing a different category.
Hand sanitizers are a portable and convenient product that, when used correctly, can help prevent the spread of infections.
What to look for in a hand sanitizer
Knowing which brand to trust isn’t easy, especially since the market is experiencing a significant increase in products.
The problem is, says Khubchandani, it’s not always clear if these products are strong and efficient enough to stop the spread of infectious diseases like COVID-19.
He also says consumers need to question whether these products have the right mix of ingredients.
Can hand sanitizers lead to bacterial resistance?
Hand sanitizers come in handy, especially when soap and water aren’t available.
But with increased use and reliance on alcohol-based hand sanitizers, some people wonder if the germs we’re trying to kill could develop a resistance.
It’s an excellent question and one that doesn’t have a definite answer yet.
What we do know, according to one study, is that several strains are adjusting to alcohol-based hand sanitizers, which could lead to resistance.
Remember that regular soap is a natural antibiotic. Experts say
Recommended hand sanitizers
Online and brick-and-mortar retailers carry several hand sanitizers, but some brands have more benefits than others. Here are eight of the best hand sanitizers for 2020.
- $ = under $10
- $$ = $10–$15
- $$$ = over $15
Due to COVID-19, some hand sanitizers may be difficult to find
It’s important to note that some of these products are currently unavailable both online and in-store. Many companies plan to restock hand sanitizer by July 2020.
Purell Advanced Hand Sanitizer
A top pick for hospitals, doctor’s offices, and homes is Purell Advanced Hand Sanitizer. Why? Because it’s formulated with 70 percent ethyl alcohol, which is higher than the minimum recommended by the CDC.
If you’re looking for a hand sanitizer with a light fragrance and soothing qualities, Purell offers a formula with aloe vera.
- Pros: It’s a top pick for hospitals and doctor’s offices, and it contains more ethyl alcohol than other leading brands.
- Cons: The original formula has a strong alcohol smell.
- Price point: $
CHI Natural Gardens Moisturizing Hand Sanitizer
Effectively kills germs, yet gentle enough for sensitive skin. CHI Natural Gardens Moisturizing Hand Sanitizer is an excellent option for anyone looking for a natural hand sanitizer.
CHI contains organically grown aloe vera and glycerin to help soothe and seal in moisture.
- Pros: The soothing formula keeps hands soft, and it contains 92 percent natural ingredients.
- Cons: It’s more expensive than other brands and not widely available (may be purchased from the company website and Sally Beauty Supply).
- Price point: $$/$$$ (depending on size)
Germ-X Moisturizing Original Hand Sanitizer
When you’re traveling, you’ll want a conveniently sized bottle that’s also easy to open. That’s why Germ-X Moisturizing Original Hand Sanitizer is a great choice for on-the-go.
Available in a variety of travel sizes including 2, 3, and 8 ounces, it also comes with a flip-top cap that prevents spills.
Small enough to fit in your pocket yet strong enough to kill 99.99 percent of many common harmful germs and bacteria, Germ-X is a trusted brand that has been around for years.
- Pros: The aloe vera formula contains vitamin E and aloe, which can help soothe and moisturize dry skin. It contains 63 percent ethyl alcohol.
- Cons: The original formula might be drying for some skin.
- Price point: $
Dr. Bronner’s Organic Hand Sanitizer
If you’re looking for an organic and portable hand sanitizer spray, then check out Dr. Bronner’s Organic Hand Sanitizer.
This travel-sized formula is certified organic, packaged in a recyclable bottle, and it contains 62 percent organic fair-trade ethyl alcohol. Plus, it comes in two different fragrances: lavender or peppermint.
- Pros: It smells good, comes in a small size for convenience, and is certified USDA organic.
- Cons: It’s much more expensive than other travel-size hand sanitizers.
- Price point: $/$$ (depending on size)
Pharma C Alcohol Wipes
Hand sanitizing wipes come in handy when you’re on-the-go and need to kill germs while also wiping away dirt and messes.
A great choice for sanitizing wipes, says Mike Golpa, DDS, a dentist, and CEO of G4 by Golpa, is Pharma C Alcohol Wipes. “It’s a safe solution with 70 percent isopropyl alcohol, and it comes in a convenient canister,” he says.
- Pros: Wipes are moist and dispense easily.
- Cons: There’s no moisturizer, and it’s very strong. It could dry out your skin.
- Price point: $
Suave Hand Sanitizer Spray
Suave is well known for their hair products, but they also have a hand sanitizer spray that’s a top pick for families, worksites, and offices.
The sanitizer is a liquid mist, not a gel, so it goes on easy. Plus, it contains 65 percent ethyl alcohol, which exceeds the CDC’s guidelines.
- Pros: It evaporates quickly and doesn’t leave hands feeling sticky.
- Cons: The bottle is big (like a hair spray bottle), so it’s not the best choice for a purse or bag.
- Price point: $ (price per bottle, but it comes in a pack of six from Amazon)
Megababe Squeaky Hand Sanitizer
Megababe contains 62 percent ethyl alcohol as well as sweet almond oil, marula oil, geranium oil, and more. The essential oils give the formula a pleasant, sweet smell and provide extra hydration for your skin.
- Pros: The vegan formula is gentle on skin, and it’s free from parabens, phthalates, sulfates, and other harmful ingredients.
- Cons: It’s more expensive than other brands.
- Price point: $$
Babyganics Alcohol-Free Foaming Hand Sanitizer
Most kid-approved hand sanitizers are alcohol-free, so finding a formula with ingredients safe for your little one’s hands is priority number one for many parents.
That’s why Babyganics Alcohol-Free Foaming Hand Sanitizer is such a popular option for families on the go.
Made from plant-derived products, Babyganics is also free from harsh ingredients like artificial fragrances, dyes, parabens, sulfates, and phthalates.
- Pros: It’s a foam instead of a gel.
- Cons: It may not be as effective as an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
- Price point: $
If you can’t find a hand sanitizer on your supermarket shelves, here’s how to make your own.
- 2 parts isopropyl alcohol or ethanol (91–99 percent alcohol)
- 1 part aloe vera gel
- a few drops of clove, eucalyptus, peppermint, or other essential oil
- Pour all ingredients into a bowl. Make sure the alcohol used for the hand sanitizer isn’t diluted.
- Use a clean spoon or whisk to mix all the ingredients thoroughly until they’re well blended.
- Don’t touch the mixture with your hands until it’s ready for use.
Another formula, recommended by the
Soap and water are the best choices to help prevent the spread of germs. But in a pinch, alcohol-based hand sanitizer is a good alternative if handwashing isn’t an option.
When purchasing a hand sanitizer, make sure it contains at least 60 percent alcohol. Other ingredients like aloe vera and essential oils can help moisturize and soothe hands and leave your skin smelling nice.