What to look for in a hand sanitiser

For maximum protection, you want a sanitiser that works. In this guide, we explain what to look for to find the best hand sanitiser for you.

When the coronavirus pandemic descended on the world in early 2020, the importance of hand hygiene was brought into sharp focus. From the beginning, government guidance and health officials recommended that we wash our hands properly and regularly to minimise the spread of COVID-19.

As a result, many of us have endeavoured to introduce healthy hand hygiene habits into our days. This includes washing our hands for the recommended 20 seconds and using a hand sanitiser when washing is not possible. In the first stage of the pandemic, hand sanitiser sales surged as people sought to protect themselves.

Empty shelf with notice about two hand sanitisers per customer

Even with the vaccine roll-out, it is important that these habits remain. Attitudes to hand hygiene have changed, with the public now expecting access to sanitisation when visiting venues. Beyond this, as we prepare to return to a semblance of normality, effective hand hygiene will be critical to reducing the risks associated with human-to-human contact and limiting further outbreaks.

Given the critical role hand hygiene will continue to play, everyone will want to get their hands on products that kill harmful bacteria. As we look forward to socialising and visiting more places as lockdown restrictions ease, carrying hand sanitiser makes sense for people wanting to protect themselves wherever they are.

But it is essential to identify a sanitiser that is proven to kill germs, thereby eliminating the risk of infection.

In this guide, we have detailed what you should look for in a hand sanitiser to find the best solution for you and your health.

Alcohol level

The first thing to establish is the make-up of the sanitiser in terms of its core ingredients. Most sanitisers are alcohol-based. The industry recommendation is for at least 60% alcohol content for the product to be effective at killing germs, such those that cause COVID-19.

The higher the alcohol content, the more efficacious the sanitiser. However, sanitisers with higher alcohol content can cause skin irritation and dryness. So most sanitisers contain no more than 80% alcohol.

There are two types of alcohol that are permitted for use in hand sanitisers: ethanol and isopropyl. Ethanol is the most common and therefore the type you’ll find in most sanitiser products. If another alcohol is mentioned, such as methanol, it should be avoided as methanol can be toxic to humans.

There are alcohol-free solutions on the market, which are gentler on the skin and great for people who suffer from irritation. Similarly, these solutions may be required for specific settings, such as when hand sanitiser is being provided to children or used in prisons. However, the scientific evidence of the efficacy of non-alcohol versions depends on the ingredients used. So it is essential to do your research and find data that backs up any bacteria-killing claims being made by manufacturers.

Bacteria-killing power

When considering a sanitiser, you rightly want one that is most likely to prevent you from being infected and infecting others. This means that efficient germ-killing power is essential so that bacteria are eliminated before they have the chance to spread.

Naturally, you’ll want the highest kill-rate you can get. While no product can kill all germs, some boast a rate as high as 99.99%.

You should also consider how quickly the sanitiser kills germs. Ideally, you’ll be looking for a sanitiser that works in a matter of seconds so you can carry on with your day safely as quickly as possible.

When you are sanitising, it is crucial to cover the entire hand surface, including often forgotten areas like thumbs, fingertips and palms. Missing these areas will simply reduce your own protection and increase your chances of spreading the remaining germs to someone else.

Some hand sanitiser products have been created with clever new designs that purposely tackle the whole of the hand for better hygiene. So, it may be worth considering these to improve disinfection.

Picture of Orbel hand sanitiser


Guidance from the HSE recommends that hand sanitiser be used where handwashing facilities are not possible. This will most commonly apply when bathrooms and sinks are not available – such as when outdoors, on the move or in public spaces. Due to this, you need a sanitiser that is accessible in these different settings, so it provides continual support whenever you need it.

Many people opt for smaller-sized sanitisers, containing 60ml of gel or even less, that fit inside pockets and handbags to carry with you at all times. Of course, the trick here is to make sure that little bottle is easily accessible so you don’t have to hunt around for it.

Wearable sanitisers may have an upper hand, particularly for those who are always on the move and don’t necessarily have the time to search for their sanitiser. This includes healthcare workers and other staff in busy environments. As these sanitisers can clip onto clothing, pockets or belts, they can be accessed quickly and at any moment, allowing you to disinfect your hands without taking time out of your day.

Fit for every scenario

There is a broad range of hand sanitiser products on the market, particularly following the surge in demand in the wake of the pandemic. With this diversity, there is not necessarily a one-size-fits-all product. Instead, people may want different things from their sanitiser.

When shopping around, it is, therefore, advisable to consider the requirements you want to fulfil. These will vary from context to context.

We have already discussed the need for increased accessibility for those working to busy schedules, with limited time to disinfect their hands. If these people are in healthcare settings, they may require a medical-grade sanitiser with high efficacy to comply with standards and prevent healthcare-associated infections, which would mean finding an appropriate sanitiser.

There are also concerns for those working or playing with children, such as parents, teachers and childminders. Following our heightened use of sanitiser over the last 12 months, there have been reports of children becoming injured, commonly after accidentally getting sanitiser into their eyes. There have even been cases of poisoning after children ingested sanitiser.

In these scenarios, there is a need for a sanitiser that is secure and only dispenses a controlled amount of solution to stop excess gel splashing into eyes. The Orbel sanitiser is one example of such a product, with its rollerballs releasing just enough gel to effectively sanitise your hands and reduce excesses.

Considering the context in which you will be using a sanitiser will enable you to identify a solution that works for your needs, whether it be personal protection or protection for your family or workforce. By demonstrating that you’ve done your due diligence, people will feel more assured as they begin to adapt to the post-pandemic normal, whether that be at home, socialising or at work.


Finally, with climate change and pollution so high on the global geopolitical agenda, you should consider sustainability as part of your search.

There are a limited number of products that come in recyclable or eco-friendly packaging. However, an alternative way of incorporating sustainability is to find a long-lasting solution.

The longevity of a sanitiser product will often boil down to how much is dispensed. Many of us will be familiar with the feeling of wet or sticky hands after accidentally placing too much sanitiser on them – and in most cases, a smaller concentration can still effectively kill bacteria.

Seek to find products that control the amount of gel released upon use, as this will prevent over-excessive application and waste. This will stop the sanitiser from running out prematurely, resulting in less packaging being throw away. It will also reduce the need for repurchase and cut costs, which will be particularly beneficial for those buying on behalf of companies and organisations.

By getting this balance right, you can enjoy enhanced sustainability and value for money, alongside the health benefits. As the coronavirus peak declines, this will keep more of us protected and curb future infection rates.


Many of us are now used to carrying a hand sanitiser or using one in public places, such as shops and restaurants. This pattern is unlikely to change for the foreseeable future, particularly as we continue to overcome the pandemic and tailor our behaviours to prevent the spread of infections.

In combination with frequent handwashing, using an effective sanitiser can provide consistent and extensive protection for individuals by reducing the risk of infection through hand contact. This alone amounts to 80% of infections, so taking adequate hand hygiene steps can significantly limit the spread of coronavirus and other illnesses.

Following the guidance provided above, we hope you will be better informed when it comes to choosing a suitable hand sanitiser to protect yourself, your family, colleagues and the general public.

If you’re seeking a solution that addresses your needs and complies with industry recommendations, the Orbel hand sanitiser is ideal. Utilising wearable innovation, habit-forming technology and controlled dispersal, it can provide risk-free contact across multiple settings.

For more information, please contact the Protecta Services UK Sales Team today by calling 0203 327 0568 or emailing sales@protecta.services.