The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommended using hand-sanitizers with at least 60% alcohol content or higher to prevent coronavirus. But a new study shows that an alcohol-free hand sanitizer also protects from COVID-19, just like alcohol-based sanitizers.
The research team from Brigham Young University worked on alcohol-free sanitizers to find their efficacy against COVID-19. After CDC shared its guideline on how to pick and use a sanitizer, they were suspecting that this 60% alcohol content rule may be built on limited scientific evidence. That’s why they tried to analyze the function of alcohol-based and non-alcoholic sanitizers against coronavirus.
This study is published in the Journal of Hospital Infection.
They obtained clinical samples of the coronavirus and checked them against benzalkonium chloride. This benzalkonium chloride is a part of many alcohol-free sanitizers as well as cleaners and disinfectants. The test reports revealed that these alcohol-free hand sanitizers were able to kill 99.9% viral particles within 15 seconds.
Benjamin Ogilvie the lead researcher and author of this study says that their results show that alcohol-free sanitizers also work well to prevent COVID-19. Their efficacy is comparable to alcohol-based sanitizers and that’s not all.
These non-alcohol hand sanitizers are not only helpful against COVID-19 but also for influenza and cold. In fact, these sanitizers also work better than their alcoholic substitutes, he said.
Benzalkonium chloride is added to many disinfectant products in low concentrations. Adding it into hand sanitizer may make the ‘tingling’ or ‘burning’ sensation which usually hits a person whole using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer. This way it is an easier, simpler, and efficient cleaning option for everyone. Its benefits are highly desirable among people who frequently use hand sanitizers such as healthcare workers. Using an alcoholic hand sanitizer may interact with the skin, makes it dry, or burn it if a person uses it excessively.
Another benefit is that sanitizers are often short in the market so these alcohol-free sanitizers can help to control COVID-19 situation, especially in public setups. Lastly, switching to any non-alcoholic sanitizer is better because it is travel friendly and non-inflammable.
Not many people know but non-alcohol hand sanitizers were more in use before 2020. But ever since FDA and CDC have shared specialized guidelines on hand sanitizers and emphasized using those with at least 60% or above the percentage of alcohol, the demand for non-alcohol sanitizers has dropped.
This research team checked COVID-19 samples accumulated in the test tubes and added them with different disinfectant compounds. The results showed high efficacy of the alcohol-free hand sanitizers which is comparable to the alcohol-based sanitizers against COVID-19.
These researchers are very hopeful regarding their study as it may change the hygiene guidelines regarding COVID-19. They also shared that using alcohol-free sanitizers can help to get over sanitizer shortage and makes maintaining hand hygiene easy as it is gentle on skin.
Using a hand sanitizer can play a huge impact on controlling the spread of COVID-19. Along with social distancing, facemask, and avoiding unnecessary interaction, it can help to save a million people worldwide.