Are Hand Wipes Better than Hand Sanitiser?
Good hand hygiene plays a crucial role in combating the spread of disease-causing bacteria and viruses. And washing your hands with soap and water is still what health experts recommend above other approaches to hand hygiene. However, they also recognise that this isn’t always an option and they do endorse the use of hand sanitiser when soap and water are not accessible. And any type of hand sanitiser–from liquids and sprays, through to gels and wipes–is better than none at all.
No one type of hand sanitiser is better than another, with hand sanitiser wipes potentially just as effective as any other type of hand sanitiser. What matters is what is in the hand sanitiser, and how it is used or applied.
What Should Be in Hand Sanitiser
Hand sanitisers in Australia are regulated by the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA), except for those that meet specific formulation and manufacturing requirements, or those that are considered cosmetic. Cosmetic sanitisers would be any that contain low-risk ingredients and only offer limited therapeutic benefit against bacteria.
Any sanitiser that claims to act against viruses and other microbial organisms or safe for use in relation to disease, disorders, medical conditions, or in health care settings, is subject to regulation. To be exempt, a sanitiser must be made according to a specific formula, which limits the ingredients to ethyl or isopropyl alcohol, purified water, glycerol, and hydrogen peroxide in specific percentages.
Any sanitiser that has been assessed and registered with the TGA must include the Australian Register of Therapeutic Goods (ARTG) number on the product label. This begins with AUST R. These sanitisers will have an alcohol content level of between 60 and 90 percent, with all other ingredients also listed on the label. The inclusion of the ARTG number means the TGA has assessed them for safety, quality, and effectiveness.
Sanitisers that are exempt from regulation, but also more effective than cosmetic sanitisers, must have an alcohol content level of 80 percent ethanol or 75 percent isopropyl alcohol.
These same principles apply to hand sanitiser wipes, and any wipes without an alcohol content level of at least 60 percent are just wipes. Any benefit from them is minimally therapeutic, and while they might eliminate some bacteria, they won’t have any effect on viruses and other disease-causing pathogens.
When Are Hand Wipes Better
Hand wipes–with the appropriate alcohol content–aren’t better than other types of hand sanitisers, but there are times when they can be more convenient. Hand sanitiser sprays, liquids, and gels can be messy and awkward to use in some situations, with hand wipes being less messy, and easier to use. And all hand sanitisers are less effective on heavily soiled or visibly dirty hands. With hand wipes, you can use one or two wipes to first clean your hands, before using another wipe–or other type of sanitiser–to properly disinfect your hands.
Hand wipes can also be useful when you need to open and close doors in public spaces, or even disinfect a surface such as your desk or a countertop. Using other types of sanitiser for this task would require you to also have some tissue paper with you to wipe up the excess liquid or gel.
How to Use Hand Wipes
As with other types of hand sanitiser, the effectiveness of hand wipes depends on the proper use. Always use a new wipe, and check that it still feels moist, even if you have just removed it from the wipe packaging. If your hands are visibly dirty–or feel grimy–use one or more wipes to first clean them, before using another one or two wipes to properly sanitise your hands. Allow your hands to air dry.
Be sure to use the wipes over your entire hand, including between your fingers and across your nails. Don’t focus only on the palms of your hands. Dispose of the used wipes immediately; you should never keep wipes for reuse later. If you use a wipe to open or close doors and will be going through multiple doors in a very short period of time, you can reuse the same wipe as long as it is moist and you dispose of it as soon as there are no more doors to go through. Use a fresh wipe to still properly sanitise your hands afterwards.
Storing Hand Wipes
Alcohol evaporates faster and more easily than water, so any alcohol-based hand sanitiser–including wipes–should always be stored in a cool environment, outside of direct sunlight. The lid or cap for the container should be firmly in place whenever not in use. Hand wipes that come in packets or sachets usually have less secure closures, so are best if the pack doesn’t have too many wipes in it, and you use them all within a short period of time.
Look for an expiry or batch manufacturing date on your hand sanitiser. Due to the alcohol content evaporating even when stored properly, most hand sanitisers are only good for two to three years from date of manufacture. After that the level of alcohol might have dropped too low for the sanitiser to be effective.
Elyptol carries a range of hand wipes and hard surface wipes that moisturise and kill up to 99.9% of bacteria, fungi and other disease-causing germs. Offering you great protection while on the go. All our products are Australian made and use natural ingredients. Our hand sanitiser wipes are made using bamboo fibre cloth, with ethanol alcohol processed from corn and sugar cane.