How does hand sanitizer kill germs?

Hands Sanitizers

Viruses, bacteria, and disease-causing germs and pathogens surround us all the time, every day wherever we live. Now, more than ever, it’s vitally important for you and your family to remain as safe as possible. 

One of the easiest and fastest ways a person can become infected by germs or diseases is through unwashed unsanitized hands. 

Even with the face covered and by keeping a safe distance from other people, there comes a moment when we’re all likely going to touch something. Be it a surface, items, and objects we come across, our hands are touching something constantly. This ends in picking up different germs and bacteria throughout the day, potentially exposing us to all sorts of harmful infections and diseases. 

The best way to prevent this is through regular and constant washing of our hands with soap and water. However, that’s not easy to do at times. So what’s the next best option? Well, in this case, the next best solution is to use an antibacterial hand gel.

In hospitals and other healthcare environments, staff and visitors are actively reminded to use hand sanitizer to clean when hands are not visibly soiled.

Washing hands with soap

Active Ingredients

The majority of reputable forms of hand sanitizers on the market have the active ingredient of either Ethanol or Isopropanol. These forms of alcohol kill most germs immediately upon contact without harming your hands in the process. This is actually a big benefit over soap and water, in which case you’d have to ideally use the water as hot as possible in order to kill most germs. This can end up in potentially burning your skin.

Both Ethanol and Isopropanol contain an antiseptic that, when exposed to germs or bacteria, dissolve their essential protein makeup. This process disrupts their normal cellular activity, causing the germs to die almost instantly.

Inactive Ingredients

Most hand sanitizers have several other inactive ingredients that make the application easier, more pleasant, and add benefits to the skin.

 Ingredients, such as glycerin, act as great moisturizing agents, allowing the skin to feel smoother than when hands are covered in rubbing alcohol.

Another ingredient, the polyacrylic acid, is also found in plenty of hand sanitizers. It produces the gel-like texture these products are generally known for. The reason this gelled appearance is that it helps spread the alcohol around the hands more effectively than simply pouring water on them.

Use of hand sanitizer to kill germs


Most scientists agree that a hand sanitizer should have at least a 60 percent inclusion of alcohol (either ethanol or isopropanol) to effectively kill any form of bacteria or germs found on hands, arms, or any physical surfaces. 

These alcohols are effective against nearly all types of bacteria, including the Streptococcus bacteria and the bacteria that cause tuberculosis (TB). 

Hand sanitizers are also highly effective against most fungal infections and enveloped viruses, such as the common cold and flu viruses are.


Overall, while the best option to keep your hands clean is always to use hot water and soap. This followed by reducing touching face, nose, mouth, eyes, and other surfaces as much as possible.

Day to day life shows us that this isn’t always realistic or that practical. (In the past 10 minutes, I’ve touched my face and arm over 22 times). Hand sanitizers resolve this issue quickly, in an easy and efficient way, allowing you to go back to living your life confident in knowing you’re being as safe as possible. 

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