While washing your hands with soap and water should be your go-to, hand sanitizers work in a pinch. Let’s face it, sometimes you don’t have soap or a dependable sink sitch–and that’s where hand sanitizers sparkle. In those circumstances, hand sanitizers are a pretty solid backup plan, according to doctors and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
“Hand sanitizer is a good way to disinfect when you don’t have access to soap and water between hand washes,” says Dr. Andrew Alexis, MD, chair of Mount Sinai’s department of dermatology. Still, you’ve got to use the stuff correctly, check the expiration date, and make sure it contains the right ingredients and recommended percentage of alcohol.
So, what kind of hand sanitizer should you use? “Alcohol-based sanitizers with 60 percent alcohol or higher are best at killing many types of germs,” says Dr. Alexis. If your bottle contains any less than that, it may reduce growth of germs but not kill them. The CDC confirms a high alcohol content (also at least 60 percent) is required to kill germs.
And look for one of these three active ingredients on the label: ethyl alcohol, isopropyl alcohol, or benzalkonium chloride. “Other active ingredients may be ineffective,” says Dr. Alexis. Those ingredients all indicate that the formula contains alcohol, and as long as it hits that 60 percent mark, you’re covered.
Steer clear of hand sanitizers containing other potentially dangerous types of alcohol. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) shared a new warning against using hand sanitizers manufactured by the Mexico-based Eskbiochem SA de CV due to potentially toxic alcohol, in a report published on June 19.
Here are the best hand sanitizers you can find on shelves and online in 2020.
With 70 percent ethyl alcohol as the active ingredient, Purell has one of the highest alcohol concentrations of any of the recommended hand sanitizers on this list.
Who doesn’t love this dependable cleaning-product brand? And yes, Mrs. Meyer’s makes hand sanitizer. This spray contains 62 percent ethyl alcohol and leaves behind a fresh, bright scent.
Another go-to brand for many households, this Germ-X option also contains 62 percent ethyl alcohol to kill germs, while moisturizing your paws with vitamin E.
You probably think of Clorox for its bleach products, but there’s no bleach in this product (whew). This hand sanitizer contains 71 percent ethyl alcohol.
This handheld spray bottle makes sanitizing easy and chic. It spritzes moisturizing oils, like lemon and lime essential oils, along with germ-fighting ethyl alcohol at 67 percent.
This easy-to-use spray has the added calming effect of a lavender scent. It has 62 percent ethyl alcohol for fighting germs. The ingredients are USDA-certified organic, vegan, and not tested on animals.
Cleanse and condition hands on-the-go with this pocket-size sanitizer. It has 62 percent ethyl alcohol as well as the light and citrusy aroma of bergamot and orange.
Germs stand no chance against the 75 percent isopropyl alcohol mist. The Fleur & Bee formula targets germs and bacteria without drying out hands thanks to moisture-retaining glycerin.
Faber Distilling’s new hand sanitizer formula follows World Health Organization guidelines with 80 percent alcohol. It comes in a traditional glass spirits bottle with “Do not drink” marked clearly on the label. It will also be distributed to hospitals, police departments, fire departments, and more frontline workers in Pennsylvania.
By Humankind’s new hand sanitizer kills germs with 65 percent ethyl alcohol. It also comes in a recyclable aluminum bottle, so you can refill all your pocket-size bottles. Plus, $1 of each hand sanitizer sold goes to The Robin Hood Relief Fund, which helps provide emergency support in the New York City area.
Thanks to 65 percent plant-derived ethyl alcohol content and sugarcane-derived squalane, this hand sanitizing gel moisturizes and kills germs. It’s also free of fragrance and doesn’t leave hands sticky or dry.
The 100% Pure Hand Sanitizer Spray is gentle on hands thanks to aloe vera and glycerin, but it’s tough on germs. Not only does the formula contain 62 percent alcohol, it also has bonus antibacterial properties from tea tree oil.
Formulated with just four essential ingredients (75 percent isopropyl alcohol, glycerin, hydrogen peroxide, and purified water), SpaRitual’s new sanitizing spray is sustainable. Plus, the first 5,000 products will be donated to the homeless population in Los Angeles.
Clark’s has devoted all of its production capacity to hand sanitizer. Like the brand’s other skincare products, the new formula is vegan, gluten-free, and cruelty-free. It’s tough on germs, though, with 71 percent ethyl alcohol.
The new hand sanitizer includes 77 percent ethyl alcohol and organically grown aloe to help soothe dry hands. Choose from multiple sizes for at-home or on the go. Chi also donated $1 million worth of hand sanitizer to the cities of Houston and Tomball, Texas.
Lather’s new hand sanitizer has a refreshing, citrus aroma from orange peel oil. It also contains 65 percent alcohol to kills germs and aloe vera, rose water, witch hazel, and yucca extracts help hydrate skin.
From Jessica Alba’s clean beauty and home company come these aromatic sanitizing sprays. The scents include Coastal Surf, Free & Clear, Grapefruit Grove, and Lavender Field. Don’t let the sweet smell of the plant-based formula fool you; the 62 percent ethyl alcohol is tough on germs. It’s also hypoallergenic and dermatologist-tested.
Containing 62 percent alcohol from sugar cane, plant-derived moisturizers, and essential oils, this hand sanitizer kills germs and doesn’t harm the environment. The lavender pure essential oil adds a subtle sweet scent.
Soothing eucalyptus and moisturizing glycerin help hydrate big and little hands, while the 62 percent ethyl alcohol solution eliminates germs. It’s all in a recyclable glass bottle.