What is the Difference Between Alcoholic and Non Alcohol Hand Sanitizer

The main difference between alcoholic and non alcohol hand sanitizer is that alcoholic hand sanitizers are more effective against germs than non alcohol hand sanitizers.

Hand sanitizer is a liquid or gel/foam we use to decrease infectious agents on the hands. However, on most occasions, washing your hands with plain soap and water is preferable than using hand sanitizers. There are two basic types of hand sanitizers as alcoholic sanitizers and non alcoholic sanitizers. Generally, alcoholic hand sanitizers with 60% -95% of alcohol content are considered to be more effective than alcohol-free sanitizers.

Key Areas Covered

1. What is Alcoholic Hand Sanitizer
     – Definition, Function, Content
2. What is Non Alcohol Hand Sanitizer
     – Definition, Function, Content
3. Similarities Between Alcoholic and Non Alcohol Hand Sanitizer
     – Outline of Common Features
4. Difference Between Alcoholic and Non Alcohol Hand Sanitizer
     – Comparison of Key Differences

Key Terms

Alcoholic Hand Sanitizer, Hand Sanitizer, Non Alcohol Hand SanitizerDifference Between Alcoholic and Non Alcohol Hand Sanitizer - Comparison Summary

What is an Alcoholic Hand Sanitizer

Alcoholic hand sanitizer, as its name suggests, is a hand sanitizer that contains alcohol. This type of sanitizers usually contains a mixture of ethanol, isopropyl alcohol or n-propanol. Sanitizers containing more than 60% of alcohol is more effective against germs. Higher the alcohol content, higher its effectiveness against germs is. These sanitizers can quickly reduce the number of microorganisms on hands, but they cannot destroy all types of germs.

It’s also important to know that water and soap are more effective against some types of germs, like Clostridium difficile, Cryptosporidium, and norovirus. Moreover, alcoholic hand sanitizers are flammable, and you should take care not to go near flame or gas burner or any burning object, especially when you are applying sanitizers. Moreover, sanitizers containing alcohol can cause alcohol poisoning if a person swallows more than a few mouthfuls. It’s also important to know that if your hands are greasy or soiled, the sanitizer may not work effectively.

Difference Between Alcoholic and Non Alcohol Hand Sanitizer

How to Use Alcoholic Hand Sanitizer

  • Apply sanitizer to the palm of one hand
  • Rub your hands together
  • Rub the sanitizer over all surfaces of hands and fingers until your hands are dry

What is a Non Alcohol Hand Sanitizer

Non alcohol hand sanitizers are hand sanitizers that do not contain alcohol. These usually contain quaternary ammonium compounds, such as benzalkonium chloride, instead of alcohol. Generally, non alcohol hand sanitizers are less effective in reducing microbes than alcoholic hand sanitizers. They can only reduce the growth of new microbes, not completely destroying the microbes on your hands.

Non-alcohol hand sanitizers create little foam after rubbing hands. Moreover, most alcohol-free sanitizers contain water-based foam. Moreover, they do not dry out your hands, like alcoholic hand sanitizers.

Similarities Between Alcoholic and Non Alcohol Hand Sanitizer

  • Both types of sanitizers are not capable of destroying all the germs on your hand.
  • In most occasions, washing your hands with plain soap and water is preferable than using hand sanitizers.
  • Effectiveness of the sanitizer may depend on various factors such as quantity used, frequency of use, and duration of exposure.

Difference Between Alcoholic and Non Alcohol Hand Sanitizer

Definition

As their names suggest, alcoholic hand sanitizers are hand sanitizers that usually contains 60 and 95% alcohol while non alcohol hand sanitizers are sanitizers that do not contain alcohol.

Content

Alcoholic hand sanitizers usually contain a mixture of ethanol, isopropyl alcohol or n-propanol while alcohol hand sanitizers contain quaternary ammonium compounds, such as benzalkonium chloride, instead of alcohol.

Effectiveness

Most importantly, alcohol based hand sanitizers are more effective than non alcohol hand sanitizers in killing germs. The latter can only reduce the growth of microbes on your hands.

Flammability and Poisoning

Alcoholic hand sanitizers are flammable and can cause poisoning if swallowed; however, non alcohol sanitizers are neither flammable nor poisonous.

Conclusion

There are two basic types of hand sanitizers as alcoholic sanitizers and non alcoholic sanitizers.  Generally, alcoholic hand sanitizers with 60% -95% of alcohol content are considered to be more effective than alcohol-free sanitizers. Thus, this is the main difference between alcoholic and non alcohol hand sanitizer

Reference:

1. “Show Me the Science – When & How to Use Hand Sanitizer in Community Settings.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 3 Mar. 2020, Available here.
2. “QAs Hand Sanitizer and COVID-19.” FDA, U.S. Food and Drug Administration, Available here.

Image Courtesy:

1. “5086496” (CC0) via Pixabay

About the Author: Hasa

Hasa has a BA degree in English, French and Translation studies. She is currently reading for a Masters degree in English. Her areas of interests include literature, language, linguistics and also food.

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