My three favorite hand sanitizers are:
I use and recommend all three, but for different situations.
First, some background
By the time the COVID-19 pandemic arrived in earnest in Boston in March, I had a fairly realistic idea of what would happen. I had been following events in the Lombardy region of Italy –a wealthy, well-educated place not so different from the Boston area. I was staggered by the impact of the outbreak on the healthcare system and by the severity of the response –the lockdown of a Western city. So I made sure to have plenty of food on hand, and even stocked up on toilet paper.
One thing I didn’t think about was hand sanitizer. By the time I did, it was impossible to find on store shelves or by mail order. That would remain the case for months.
Puracyn Plus First Aid Wound & Skin Cleanser
A friend in the medical field suggested Puracyn, a wound cleaning product with a 0.012% hypochlorous acid formulation. Nothing on the label says “virus killer” and of course at that point no products had really been tested against COVID-19. But since people didn’t know about it, I was able to procure it in March. I bought a few 16-ounce bottles (not cheap) and started using it for hand sanitizing and also for cleaning door handles and the like. The label reads:
Advanced Hypochlorous Solution
Hypochlorous acid is a molecule naturally produced by the human body’s immune system. Puracyn Plus contains a synthesized version of the hypochlorous molecule, which serves as a preservative that inhibits the growth of microorganisms within the solution
- Science-Based Technology
- Steroid free
I really like this product. The sprayer is easy to use, it feels more or less like water on the skin, doesn’t leave any residue, has almost no odor, and can be used a lot without causing chafing or other skin irritation.
I keep it in the house and in the car.
In researching this post, I found Hypochlorous Acid: A Review in the American Journal of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons singing the praises of hypochlorous acid as “an inexpensive, available, nontoxic and practical disinfectant that is effective in sanitizing against the COVID-19 virus.” So I feel confident in recommending it.
DenMat Hand Sanitizer
In April, a publicist for DenMat, a supplier to dental practices, sent me a sample of their new Hard Surface Cleanser, a bleach based cleaner with a lemon scent. It’s a good product and I’ve used it around the house, especially in the bathroom. I’m sure dental offices and others are using it against COVID-19.
But the real excitement was that this shipment also included a six pack of 5 oz containers of hand sanitizer. The DenMat version is an 80 percent ethyl alcohol solution, with glycerin to moisturize and smooth the hands. I really love this one. The pump/sprayer is super easy to use and it sprays out just a small amount. It’s a much better dispenser than what you typically find on Purell and similar. There is no waste and the bottles have lasted a long time.
There is a slight odor (nothing unpleasant) and it dries quickly. I keep this in my backpack and car, and carry it around with me if I’m going to eat outdoors at a restaurant (not that I’ve done much of that lately)!
Alcohol is flammable and swallowing even small amounts can poison children, so watch out.
Recently, I started using SafeHands solo, a sanitizer with benzalkonium chloride as its active ingredient. The novelty is that it comes in single use packets that can easily be toted around in a shirt pocket or purse.
It also has an interesting, three-step instruction for use: “hold it, fold it, squeeze it.” You hold the packet in one hand, then fold it to pop it open, then squeeze out the liquid onto your hand. After that you rub it around just like any other hand sanitizer.
It seems to work well, and it’s super convenient. The only challenge is that sometimes the squirt goes a little awry and some liquid ends up on your clothes or elsewhere. I used one this morning after touching a door handle and got a bit on my winter coat. It dried quickly, though and left no stain.
I plan to keep a few of these with me at all times. In any case I prefer to have my own supplies rather than using any communal containers that are offered in stores and other public places. I will probably not put any in my wallet, however, in case the seal breaks along the wallet fold.
I hadn’t heard of benzalkonium chlorides (BACs), but apparently they are widely used. Safe Hands Solo describes the product as non-toxic, and some research has found that to be the case. There are some concerns raised in the literature, however. See, for example Benzalkonium Chlorides: Uses, Regulatory Status, and Microbial Resistance in the Journal of Applied and Environmental Microbiology. Unlike alcohol, it is not flammable.
Conclusion: Why These Hand Sanitizers are Great
After almost a year of the pandemic, these three hand sanitizers are my favorites. I’m sure there are other good ones out there, but I prefer all of them to the typical gels that I commonly see.
Truth is, hand sanitizer was a bigger deal in the early months, before we understood that airborne transmission through droplets and aerosols was the main worry. I still use hand sanitizer but I don’t go out much, so the products don’t get used too quickly.
Masks, on the other hand, I do use a lot! So stay tuned for a review of my favorites.