Believe it or not Hand sanitiser has been around since the mid 1960s. In 1966 a Student Nurse from California, called Lupa Hernandez first came up with the idea of an alcohol based, gel hand sanitiser that would enable you to wash your hands where there were no hand washing facilities, access to soap and water, available. She soon realised the potential of her innovative idea and registered with an inventions hotline she had heard about on TV.

No one could have predicted the popularity of this product. For the last few years, bottles of antibacterial hand gel have become a must have item for the majority of handbags, at the entrance to every office and building and is even available on public transport.

What’s in it?
The main active ingredient in hand sanitiser is usually isopropyl alcohol, also known as rubbing alcohol, or a similar type of alcohol such as ethanol or n-propanol. This alcohol works by killing microbes. They dissolve their protective outer layer of proteins and disrupt their metabolism.

Research has shown that some hand sanitisers will kill germs just as effectively as washing your hands with soap and water. However, it will not remove visible dirt or grease and it will not remove chemicals from your hands. In these instances it is vital to wash your hands with soap and water.

It is recommended to use products that have a minimum of 70% alcohol. This high percentage allows for up to 99.9% of bacteria on the hands to be destroyed within 30 seconds after use. Alcohol based sanitisers kill the most bacteria and can stop some viruses. It is worth taking into account that sanitisers with lower levels of alcohol may not be as effective.

Sanell Alcohol Hand Sanitiser 400ml

Here are some simple Dos and Don’ts:


  • Use sanitiser when you there is no access to soap and water
  • Use sanitiser for extra protection after washing


  • Use sanitiser in place of washing your hands with soap and water
  • Use when your hands are visibly dirty
  • Use if your hands have chemicals on them

How do they work?
Alcohol based sanitisers work when you rub your hands together causing friction. This friction warms the solution and in the process causes it to evaporate taking any germs with it. Only when your hands are dry has the sanitiser worked.

How to use hand Sanitiser correctly

  • Place the manufacturer's recommended amount in the palm of one hand.
  • Rub both hands together, ensuring that your hands are completely covered, front and back, in between your fingers, including fingertips and cuticles and up to your wrists.
  • Keep rubbing the gel in until your skin is dry.

Which type of sanitiser is better, Gel or Foam?
The truth is, neither is better than the other. Each has its own advantages but whichever you prefer and will use more efficiently is the best. It is really down to personal preference.

Gel has been around for the longest amount of time, people are more used to it. Some think that it is easier to spread onto the fingertips and the cuticles ensuring complete coverage although it can easily slip off of the hands if not used quickly enough. Gel is usually a cheaper option.

Cutan Gel Hand Sanitiser Cartridge x 6 (1 litre)

Foam sanitisers tend to cling to the hands better, preventing less spillages and meaning more germs are killed.  Being that the foam is raised from the skin, some people may find it easier to push across the surface of the hands.  Foam sanitiser is often a little more expensive than gel due to the foaming ingredients used.

Cutan Foam Hand Sanitiser Cartridge x 6 (1 litre)

Alcohol Free Alternatives

You may be wondering if there is an alternative to alcohol based hand sanitiser, and there is.  Alcohol free sanitisers contain 0.1% benzalkonium chloride, which is an ammonium compound. The rest of the solution is made up using a mixture of water and skin conditioners such as vitamin E for it’s moisturising properties.  This type of sanitiser may not be as effective at killing germs, however it is kinder on the skin and suitable for children to use making it a good option for schools and nursery settings.

Sosure Foaming Hand Sanitiser Mousse 50ml

We have a great variety of products available at SHD Medical. Whether you want a pocket sized bottle to keep with you on your daily routine or travels, or you need to refill the dispensers at work we have everything you right here.


Post By Kelly Trethewey