Do Antibacterial Hand Wipes Kill Viruses
The term antibacterial implies a product is effective at eliminating bacteria. However, it can also be used on products that are effective at eliminating other microorganisms such as fungi and viruses. If you are looking for hand wipes that work on a broader range of germs, the trick is to not focus on the term antibacterial. Instead, you should pay attention to the ingredients of the wipes.
What Antibacterial Hand Wipes Also Kill Viruses?
Antibacterial wipes that are safe to use on your hands but are also good at killing some disease-causing viruses are those with alcohol listed as the active ingredient. The alcohol should either be ethanol–also known as ethyl alcohol–or isopropyl alcohol. Isopropyl is a little gentler on skin than ethanol, but ethanol is more environmentally friendly and can be processed from organic matter, such as corn or sugar cane. Avoid using any sanitiser made with methanol, which is toxic even when used externally. Like alcohol, bleach is also effective at killing bacteria, fungi, and viruses, but should also not be used in hand wipes as it is much more of an irritant than alcohol.
In addition to looking for alcohol as the active ingredient, pay attention to the volume level listed. This should be between 60 and 90 percent. At these levels the alcohol is most effective and works faster at killing bacteria and viruses. Hand wipes with benzethonium chloride or benzalkonium chloride as the active ingredient are antibacterial, but do not work on viruses. They are safe to use, and work well if all you want is protection against harmful bacteria such as E. coli. For protection against the flu virus and many other disease-causing viruses, use hand wipes that contain alcohol.
Are Hand Wipes as Good as Other Hand Sanitisers?
Hand wipes can be as good as hand sanitiser liquids, sprays, and gels for added protection against pathogens. But this is only if they contain the proper levels of alcohol, and are used correctly. All hand sanitisers should be used as an alternative–not a replacement–to washing your hands with soap and water. This is for when it isn’t possible to use soap and water. Washing your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds is much better, but there are many times when you might want to sanitise your hands and can’t get to soap and water.
Hand sanitisers–including wipes–also work best on hands that are clean. If there is too much dirt on your hands, the alcohol won’t reach all surfaces of your hands, and won’t be able to work on any bacteria and viruses you have been exposed to. Wipes can be useful in these situations, especially if you aren’t able to first wash your hands. You can use multiple wipes to first clean your hands, before using a fresh wipe–or other hand sanitiser product–to properly sanitise your hands. Be sure to first dispose of the used wipes before you finally sanitise your hands. Remember too that using wipes and other sanitisers doesn’t mean you won’t get ill. Sanitisers are effective against many, but not all, viruses and bacteria, which is why soap and water are still more highly recommended. Sanitisers also help reduce the risk of you transferring bacteria and viruses to your face, where they can enter your system through your eyes, nose, or mouth. There are still other ways that bacteria and viruses can enter your system and make you ill.
When Shouldn’t I Use Antibacterial Wipes?
In addition to not using antibacterial wipes if your hands are visibly dirty, there are other times when using them is not recommended:
- If the wipes feel dry. This would mean the active ingredient–such as alcohol–has evaporated and the wipe will no longer work. It might be moist enough to wipe away some dirt, but it won’t kill bacteria or viruses.
- On soft surfaces. Wipes are meant for use on skin or hard surfaces. Using them on clothing or carpeting will cause the moisture to be sucked out of them, and allow germs to be transferred to the wipes, and then to your hands.
- On toys, fruits, or vegetables. The active ingredients in hand wipes are safe for external use only. Using them on anything anyone might put in their mouth could be harmful. This also applies to using them on your pets or their bowls.
- If the active ingredient is bleach. Some wipes are designed only for use on hard surfaces and might have bleach or other chemicals that can cause allergic reactions when coming into contact with skin. While they might be safe to use as directed for cleaning countertops and other surfaces, you should not use them to sanitise or clean your hands. Additionally, you should be cautious when using any type of wipe on some electronic devices as they could damage the coating used on some screens.
You should also avoid reusing wipes. Even if they still feel moist, there’s a small chance that any germs that haven’t been killed yet end up transferring to other surfaces. Using a single wipe to open multiple doors in a short period of time might be safe, as long as you remember to also sanitise your hands again afterwards.
Storing Antibacterial Hand Wipes Properly
Because alcohol evaporates more easily than water, alcohol-based hand wipes should always be stored in a cool place outside of direct sunlight. Look for hand wipes that come in a container with a secure lid that closes tightly. Hand wipes that come in packets are very convenient for carrying around, but each packet should only have a few wipes in it to ensure they are all used in a relatively short period of time, and before they dry out.
Elyptol’s range of antibacterial hand wipes are made using 70 percent ethanol processed from corn and cane sugar, making them suitable for acting against bacteria and viruses. Other ingredients–including the cloth–are all natural, making our hand wipes environmentally-friendly, and free from allergens.