How Sanitising is Hand Sanitiser?

clean hands cold and flu season coronavirus covid19 hand sanitizer la vida low tox live clean low tox living soap

There's nothing like a pandemic to make us sit up and take notice of our personal hygiene.  Not just that, we start to notice other people's personal hygiene too 😳🙈😱.  Last week, as COVID-19 was dominating the news, many of us, at some point, were standing in line at supermarkets with our fair share of dry stores and toilet paper.  But what do we make of all that hand sanitiser?  Buckets of the stuff has been sold, and keeps selling... the world is in lockdown too, so all the people buying hand sanitiser should all have easy access to soap and running water, amiright? 🤷🏼‍♀️

So how sanitising is hand sanitiser?
According to the World Health Organisation and the Center for Disease Control,

"hand sanitisers need to be at least 60% alcohol to protect against bacteria, viruses and fungi"

Luckily the La Vida Low Tox natural hand sanitiser is at least 60-65% alcohol, and only 4 ingredients too, with no nasties, and a 100% organic, natural, heavenly lavender scent to boot 😊!!  Furthermore, if soap and water are not available, 60% alcohol hand sanitiser can help you avoid getting sick, and sharing germs with others (CDC, 2020). 

What about soap and water? 🧐
Science tells us that washing hands with soap and water - for 20 seconds - is the better option because it reduces the amount of all types of germs and chemicals on hands - and it's less drying. Some of the nasties that hand washing combats better are Cryptosporidium, norovirus, and Clostridum difficile - in plain speak: diarrhea, gastro type stomach bugs... Hands down, we don't want those little horrors in our systems either, right?!

Now, if your hands are really dirty or greasy, such as from gardening, handling food, playing sports, fixing your car, playing in the great outdoors, hand sanitisers will not work as well as proper soap and water style hand washing (CDC, 2020). 

How does soap clean?
Soaps cleanse by acting as emulsifiers.  In water, soap molecules cluster into micelles which are polar.  Grease, oil, fat, lipids, and dirt, are non-polar.  When mixed together, soap micelles dissolve non-polar substances, and basically wash them away in the polar wash water  (Bettelheim et al., 2020, p. 412).  Viruses, and other microbes, are covered in a lipid bilayer membrane, in plain speak, a layer of fat. Soap breaks down that layer of fat, and in the process breaks down the cell, which kills it, making it unable to infect you.  The other thing soap does, is make a slippery surface making all the dirt, grease and germs, slip right off, and down the drain.  Pretty cool, huh?  And simple too.  

How to use hand sanitiser effectively?
Spray 2-3 spritz into the palm of one hand, then rub all over the surfaces of your hands until it is dry.  Rubbing hands together helps evaporate the alcohol (CDC, 2002).  Life Tip: Don't go lighting any matches, cigarettes, flames, open fires, fireworks, etc immediately after hand sanitising 🔥 - let's be safe people. 

Frequent use of alcohol-based hand sanitisers can cause drying of the skin unless emollients, humectants or skin conditioners are added to the ingredients.  1-3% glycerine can reduce the drying effect of alcohol (CDC, 2002).  The great news about the La Vida Low Tox hand sanitiser is it contains 10% glycerine, especially designed to protect your skin against the harsh effects of alcohol.

When it comes to hand hygiene, keep it simple.  As a first choice, go for soap and water for 20 seconds, focusing on your finger-tips, and backs of hands and palms.  When soap and water are unavailable, use at least 60% alcohol hand sanitiser.  2-3 spritz into hands, then rub together all the surfaces of your hands until dry.  As always, the most natural, chemical-free hand sanitiser you can find is always best.  Steer clear of ingredients with chemical names you can't recognise, and artificial fragrances.  Most of all, stay safe out there.  These are crazy times.  And remember not to touch your face!


Bettelheim, F., Brown, W., Campbell, M., Farrell, S., Torres, O., & Madsen, S. (2020). Introduction to general, organic, and biochemistry (Twelfth ed.). Boston, MA: Cengage.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2002).  Guideline for Hand Hygeine in Health-Care Settings. Retrieved from

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2020).  Show Me the Science - When & How to Use Hand Sanitizer in Community Settings. Retrieved from

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