One of the first things we learn about personal hygiene is to keep our hands clean. However, the spreading of the global pandemic through 2020 raised the attention to hand sanitizing to a colossal level.
Hand sanitizers are everywhere – in restaurants, fast food shops, bakeries; we can even find them set plain in the street – for convenient use by an accidental traveler.
The following hand sanitizer statistics show that their popularity has been increasing since COVID-19 started spreading globally.
Regardless of their immense popularity, people are worried about the effectiveness of hand sanitizers.
How can a little blob of hand gel protect us from bacteria and viruses? Should we use hand sanitizer all the time?
Keep reading the article to find out answers to these questions and more.
But first, take a look at some of the essential facts and figures about hand sanitizers.
The Top 10 Disinfectant Statistics and Facts
- Hand sanitizer was patented in 1966
- Homemade hand sanitizers may cause skin burn if prepared ineffectively
- Denaturants are added to alcohol used in hand sanitizers to make them less appealing to ingest
- Hand sanitizers are to be stored below 105°F
- Employees who use hand sanitizers at least 5 times each workday are about 67% less likely to get sick
- Calls to Poison Control relating to unintentional ingestion of hand sanitizers increased by 79% in March 2020, compared to March 2019
- Handwashing with soap and water is a more effective way to eliminate all germs found on the palm
- Globally, only 19% of people wash their hands with soap after using the toilet
- Some hand sanitizers contain the life-threatening alcohol known as methanol
- By 2027, the global hand sanitizer market could hit $7.32 billion in value
To discover more about hand sanitizers, how to use them, how they work, and if they’re better than hand washing, keep reading.
What is Hand Sanitizer?
Although soap and water are the most typical alternatives in keeping our hands neat (due to their ability to reduce numerous germs in the hands), hand sanitizers have recently become the go-to option–primarily due to the recent pandemic.
Hand sanitizers are not just effective at killing germs; they are also highly recommended by the CDC as part of the process for helping to fight off the novel coronavirus currently in circulation globally.
In the following paragraphs, you will be exposed to essential hand sanitizer facts that explain what they are.
1. Hand sanitizers are non-prescription drugs.
The US Food and Drug Administration labels hand sanitizers as drugs. They’re disinfectants that come in the form of a liquid or gel, and they’re recommended for cleaning your hands when soap and water aren’t readily available.
2. Hand sanitizer was patented in 1966.
Disinfectants have been around for thousands of years, but the history of hand sanitizer is a bit shorter. Namely, in 1966, Lupe Hernandez patented a gel-based, alcohol-based hand sanitizer for hospitals.
3. There are two types of hand sanitizers: alcohol-based and alcohol-free.
Alcohol-based hand sanitizers are effective in quickly reducing the number of bacteria and microbes on a person’s hands. However, as the CDC claims, they can’t remove dangerous chemicals like heavy metals and pesticides, and they’re also not as effective when our hands are visibly dirty or greasy. Conversely, alcohol-free hand sanitizers are not as effective and can’t protect us against harmful bacteria and viruses.
4. There’s only one active ingredient in hand sanitizers.
Alcohol-based and alcohol-free hand sanitizers contain only one active ingredient. Both effectively kill germs, but one may be more effective than the other, depending on the purpose.
In alcohol-based hand sanitizers, the active ingredient is either propanol or isopropanol (isopropyl alcohol). Conversely, the active ingredient in alcohol-free hand sanitizer is benzalkonium chloride — a chemical used for clinical, food line, and domestic household biocides.
Hand Sanitizer Facts
Generally, we are exposed to millions of germs every day, as hand sanitizer stats from 2020 suggest.
Every surface or object that we touch as we go through our daily activities exposes us to millions of harmful bacteria capable of making us sick if they find a way into the body.
Reports on antiseptic products list show them to be portable and easy to use on the go, making them the most preferred mode of handwashing for busy professionals worldwide.
This section will walk you through some critical hand sanitizer and disinfectant facts that you should know as you reach out for the next pinch of hand sanitizer.
5. The right way to use sanitizers is to rub them into your skin until your hands are dry.
A large number of the population don’t use sanitizers properly. According to recommendations from the CDC on the use of hand sanitizers, the following guidelines are to be observed.
Firstly, you have to spray or apply the sanitizer on the palm of your hands. Secondly, you need to rub both your palms together thoroughly.
Ensure that the entire surface of your palms, your fingers, and the back of your palms are covered with the sanitizer.
Continue rubbing your palms together, down to the back of your hand until your hands dry off entirely and the sanitizer is wholly absorbed into the skin.
Depending on the sanitizer’s content, this may take anywhere between 30-60 seconds or less.
The essence of rubbing your palms together until the sanitizer dries off completely is to ensure that all possible germs affected by the sanitizer are eliminated, providing maximum hand sanitizer benefits.
6. Alcohol-free sanitizers can reduce microbes.
(The JP, ScienceDirect)
Alcohol-free sanitizers are not entirely useless. Sure, they may not offer the full range of alcohol-based hand sanitizer benefits, but they contain quaternary ammonium compounds, which effectively reduce microbes.
Quaternary ammonium disinfectant products are among the most commonly used hospital disinfectant products. Hospitals use them for disinfecting medical equipment that comes into contact with intact skin, like blood pressure cuffs.
7. Homemade hand sanitizers may cause skin burn if prepared ineffectively.
There are several risks associated with the use of homemade hand sanitizers, some of which include:
- Improper ingredients or proportions in a homemade hand sanitizer can lead to skin irritation, burns, and even injury.
- They are not the best hand sanitizer to use around babies. This is mainly because children may be more prone to the effects of improperly mixed products, thereby increasing their chances of developing an adverse reaction.
Also, homemade sanitizers may be ineffective due to the following:
- A low alcohol content (less than 60%)
- Presence of contaminants due to unclean or improper utensils used in the mixture
8. Natural or “green” sanitizers don’t kill bacteria.
Just like “green” disinfectant products, natural hand sanitizers can’t disinfect or kill germs. These products are made from all-natural components, but the only way to kill harmful bacteria is to use high-percentage alcohol.
9. Consuming alcohol-based hand sanitizers could lead to intoxication, followed by coma.
Ethanol-based hand sanitizer products particularly can bring about decreased blood sugar levels, which could lead to seizures in children. Poison Control reports receiving series of calls regarding unintentional ingestion of hand sanitizers by children.
In addition, studies on the chemicals in hand sanitizers show that those that are alcohol-based can generally cause nausea and vomiting by irritating the stomach. It can also place children in a drunken state where their heart and breathing rates are reduced.
10. Alcohol-based hand-sanitizers are highly flammable.
Hand sanitizer and fire don’t work well together. Consequently, hand sanitizer is classified as a Class I flammable liquid substance. This means that hand sanitizers have a flashpoint of fewer than 100 degrees Fahrenheit.
11. Denaturants are added to alcohol used in hand sanitizers to make them less appealing to ingest.
Given the high rate of ingestion of hand sanitizers globally, this feels like a logical step and a good one as well. The bad taste introduced by the denatured alcohol deters people, children specifically, from consuming large portions of these products.
12. Regular hand sanitizer use delayed the usual Norovirus epidemic in Japan in 2009.
Hand sanitizer facts show that intensive use of hand sanitizer led to an almost two-month delay in the Norovirus epidemic. The NoV epidemic is a regular occurrence in Japan during December. However, in the 2009–2010 season, its peak was delayed until the fourth week of January 2010, due to the intensive hand hygiene conducted for the pandemic influenza in 2009.
13. Rinsing or wiping off alcohol-based hand sanitizers before it dries into the skin reduces their efficiency.
Hand sanitizers are designed to absorb into the skin of your palms from where they attack viable bacteria on your palm.
That is why the CDC guideline on how to use hand sanitizers instructs that you rub your palms together until they feel dry after applying a hand sanitizer on them.
However, failure to allow for the proper drying of the hand sanitizer or wiping off the hand sanitizer before it is dry means that it may not work well against germs.
14. Alcohol-based hand sanitizers are not designed to clear or disinfect surfaces.
It is wrong to assume that hand sanitizers will effectively disinfect surfaces, given that they kill germs on the palms.
That being said, there are specialized sanitizers designed for disinfecting surfaces and objects.
On the other hand, hand sanitizers are medical disinfectant products and are not to be used to disinfect the surface of objects.
15. Hand sanitizers are to be stored below 105°F.
Alcohol, a significant content of hand sanitizers, is flammable at high temperatures. For this reason, users are advised to store their hand sanitizers in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight.
Hand Sanitizer Statistics
So far, you have been introduced to what hand sanitizers are, and how they work to help you get rid of germs. Here, we will enlighten you on some of the fascinating hand sanitizer statistics for 2021 gathered from reliable sources.
16. Employees who use hand sanitizers at least 5 times each workday are about 67% less likely to get sick.
(Deb Group) (WebMD)
Did you know that a typical office desk carries over 10 million bacteria?
That is 400 times more germs than you would find on most toilet seats. That’s quite frightening.
Alcohol-based sanitizers or phenol disinfectant products are particularly effective in combating most bacteria forms found on office desks.
It is advised that you place hand sanitizers around your work environment to reduce your workers’ sickness rate.
When used correctly, alcohol-based hand sanitizers can effectively reduce the rate of flu or cold amongst workers.
Furthermore, when sickness in the workplace is reduced, absenteeism rates also plummet.
According to statistics on medical disinfectant products, proper hand hygiene can reduce absenteeism at work and related costs by up to 40%.
17. People fail to clean their hands properly 97% of the time.
Door handles, phones, remote controls, shopping carts, and faucets are the most commonly touched surfaces, which means they are hosts to billions of potentially harmful bacteria.
Frequent hand washing or disinfecting with a hand sanitizer prevents the spreading of these microbes and keeps people healthy.
18. The percentage of alcohol in hand sanitizer needs to be at least 60% for the product to be effective.
As studies reveal, a higher amount of alcohol increases hand sanitizer effectiveness. Some viruses are coated with a layer of protein, while others have more complex coatings.
High concentrations of alcohol quickly break apart these protective layers, entering the bacteria and destroying it. Therefore, 60-95% alcohol hand sanitizers are the most effective.
19. Calls to Poison Control relating to unintentional ingestion of hand sanitizers increased by 79% in March 2020, compared to March 2019.
You might wonder, why would someone want to drink hand sanitizers when they are supposed to be poisonous to the body?
Research shows that drinking hand sanitizers to get a buzz has been in existence for a while among people with alcohol use disorder.
More recently, the coronavirus pandemic has had more people ingesting hand sanitizers, both by accident and intentional use.
However, alcohol-based hand sanitizers should never be consumed, especially when it contains methanol (a poisonous substance).
20. 70% alcohol-based hand sanitizer is more effective than a 90% one.
(University of Toronto)
Scientists have discovered that 70% isopropyl alcohol, commonly known as rubbing alcohol, is the most effective in killing bacteria and viruses.
It’s even more effective than 90% or 100% alcohol because it contains water, which improves penetration.
21. Purell hand sanitizer claims to kill 99.9% of bacteria.
Purell is a brand with the best-known commercial disinfectant products used in many medical clinics and hospitals. It contains 70% ethyl alcohol, which makes it perfect for killing germs.
22. Researchers have found that Dettol destroys almost 100% of Escherichia coli.
Scientists have tested Dettol hand sanitizer on five bacteria strains that are most commonly transmitted by hand.
Their results show that the chemicals in this hand sanitizer are the most effective for destroying Escherichia coli, Klebsiella pneumoniae, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, pneumonia, bacteremia, Staphylococcus epidermidis, and Bacillus subtilis.
23. One study found that the use of hand sanitizer could increase school attendance by 26%.
(The Pediatric Infectious Disease Journal)
This experiment also revealed that regular use of hand sanitizer also reduced the number of confirmed illnesses from the highly contagious influenza A virus by 52%.
However, it was not as effective with the influenza B virus.
Hand Sanitizer vs. Hand Washing
Ever wondered what the difference between hand sanitizing and handwashing is?
Although both serve the same purpose (getting rid of germs), one may seem more effective than the other, depending on the use case.
As such, it is essential to know when to use one method over the other.
In the following paragraphs, we will educate you on some fun facts about hand sanitizer and hand washing to help you understand how each functions and how to use them to benefit your health.
24. Handwashing with soap and water is a more effective way to eliminate all germs found on the palm.
Both hand washing (with soap and water) and hand sanitizers effectively limit the activities of bacteria, microbes, and viruses found in the hands.
While handwashing with soap and water eliminates more bacteria and viruses than hand sanitizers, they are not always available on the go. This is where hand sanitizers take the shine.
Cleaning disinfectant products are portable, easy to access, work faster, and require less time to apply than hand washing.
However, hand sanitizers do not entirely eradicate certain viruses and bacteria such as norovirus, Cryptosporidium, and Clostridium difficile.
25. It’s estimated that regular hand washing could prevent a million deaths yearly.
(NCBI, Vitality Medical)
No matter how good disinfectant products are at killing germs, nothing is better than washing your hands with warm water and soap. The WHO claims that 50% of deaths caused by diarrheal disease could be reduced by washing hands.
26. Hand washing is more effective than hand sanitizers if your hands are covered in chemicals.
Aside from visible dirt, hand sanitizers don’t also work well with chemicals (e.g., pesticides). So, suppose your hands are soiled in chemicals.
In that case, you might want to consider getting rid of the chemical substances first before applying a hand sanitizer.
27. Hand washing is more effective than hand sanitizers in killing germs if your hands are dirty and greasy.
Hand sanitizers are not designed to wash out dirt like soap and water. Instead, they are more effective when your hands are lightly soiled in germs, as shown by top hand sanitizer facts.
If your hands are visibly dirty, it is advised that you first wash out the visible stains with soap and water to remove the visible dirt before applying a hand sanitizer.
28. Handwashing reduces the risk of respiratory infections by 16%.
Hand sanitizers are a quick and easy short-term solution when there’s no water and soap. However, only handwashing can decrease the risk of getting a respiratory infection, but more research needs to be conducted on this topic.
Interesting Disinfectant Facts
Given the millions of bacteria that we encounter daily, antiseptic products have become lifesavers. They provide us with a quick and easy solution to get rid of germs found on the palms.
It is no wonder the World Health Organization (WHO) picked hand washing and hand sanitizers as the first line of defense against the recent COVID-19 pandemic.
Keeping your hands clean by regularly disinfecting them can save you a lot of health troubles. As such, we have taken the time to bring some of the fascinating disinfectant statistics currently circulating on the internet. Read on!
29. Globally, only 19% of people wash their hands with soap after using the toilet.
(Water Aid) (Deb Group)
That is about 1 in 5 people.
What’s more, worldwide disinfectant statistics reveal that 33% of primary schools lack proper handwashing facilities.
This is a massive blow to children living in these areas as handwashing with soap has been shown to reduce the chances of developing diarrhea by 42-47%.
To make matters worse, only 5% of people who wash their hands regularly do so for more than 15-seconds.
In contrast, the CDC has recommended 15-20 seconds of vigorous washing as the minimum time for washing our hands with antiseptic cleaning products or soap and water.
30. Peracetic acid kills bacteria, fungi, and yeast in less than 5 minutes.
Peracetic acid disinfectant products are most commonly used to sterilize medical and surgical instruments in the US. This acid is so effective that it kills bacteria in 15 seconds to 30 minutes, with 500–10,000 ppm.
31. About 84% of adults prefer foam over gel disinfectants.
It’s a widespread myth that all hand sanitizers are sticky. According to an independent study and the derived hand sanitizer statistics, more than 80% of people prefer a foaming disinfectant. It dries more quickly, and it doesn’t slide off the hands when the entire dose is correctly applied.
32. Some hand sanitizers contain the life-threatening alcohol known as methanol.
Methanol, also known as wood alcohol, is a toxic substance often used alongside other forms of alcohol to produce hand sanitizers.
Research shows that when absorbed through the skin or ingested, methanol can be life-threatening.
Some side effects following methanol ingestion are headaches, blurred vision, vomiting, nausea, and seizures. In extreme cases, methanol consumption can lead to blindness, damage to the nervous system, coma, and even death.
According to statistics on organic disinfectant products, close to 800 people have lost their lives, 5,900 hospitalized, and 60 more developed blindness during the pandemic due to methanol ingestion.
33. The overuse of disinfectants can be counter-productive.
(Aurora Health Care)
People who use too much antibacterial soap are at the risk of reducing the number of healthy bacteria living on their skin.
Moreover, healthcare professionals claim that the overuse of hand sanitizer can lead to the same results and make the antibacterial agents less effective in fighting new bacteria strains.
34. CBD hand sanitizers have a wide range of antibacterial properties.
(Panacea Life Sciences)
CBD is known for curing all sorts of ailments. Still, scientists have found that it’s not only helpful in managing the pain, but it’s also effective in destroying the drug-resistant MRSA and superbugs.
Hand Sanitizer Market Statistics
The impact of hand sanitizers on our lives, especially during the most recent pandemic, cannot be overemphasized. Although there have been reports of poisoning and skin burn due to hand sanitizers, statistics from the hand sanitizer market in 2020 show that the market is growing.
Check out the following statistics to understand better.
35. By 2027, the global hand sanitizer market could hit $7.32 billion in value.
(Globe News Wire) (IMARC)
According to reports, the global hand sanitizer sales in 2020 were $4.2 billion. The demand for hand sanitizers has experienced massive growth in the past year, mainly due to the CDC’s authorization to use hand sanitizers regularly in the fight against the COVID-19 virus.
The ability of hand sanitizers to decrease the transmission of gastrointestinal and respiratory infections makes them ideal for the CDC’s mandate against COVID-19.
Besides, the growing awareness of hand-hygiene across the world also helps to grow the hand sanitizer market.
36. The US Hand Sanitizer Manufacturing industry market experienced a 16.6% growth in 2020 alone.
The US is one of the worst-hit countries in terms of the death rate due to the coronavirus pandemic. The US hand sanitizer sales statistics show that the industry experienced massive growth in those periods, with revenue amounting to $74.4 million in 2020 alone.
One of the factors contributing to the rise in revenue of the hand sanitizer manufacturing industry in the US is increased demand.
Nowadays, there are hand sanitizer dispensers in almost every corner of the country.
You can find them in banks, schools, parks, health centers, and most work environments. New entrants into the industry also help ensure that there are enough hand sanitizers to go around for all citizens.
Can you use hand sanitizer on your face?
Contrary to popular belief, you can use hand sanitizer on your face. A little dab on a pimple should dry it out quickly. It’s also effective in relieving bug bites.
How much hand sanitizer to use?
You should always read the manufacturer’s directions and apply the quantity they recommend. You should use enough hand sanitizer to cover your entire hand, including the space between your fingers.
How effective is hand sanitizer?
70% alcohol hand sanitizer is very effective.
Can hand sanitizer kill a virus?
If the hand sanitizer contains at least 60% alcohol and is used for at least 30 seconds, it can kill viruses.
Is hand sanitizer bad for your skin?
Overusing a hand sanitizer can cause mild irritation and skin dryness. Moreover, it can reduce the number of healthy bacteria living on the skin.
How often should you use hand sanitizer?
You should use it when you don’t have access to water and soap, or in combination with handwashing. However, you should never use hand sanitizer as a replacement for washing your hands.
Does expired hand sanitizer still work?
The alcohol content in expired hand sanitizers is less than 60%, so its efficiency is not guaranteed.
Does hand sanitizer kill STDs?
While hand sanitizer can’t kill HPV, it can kill Chlamydia trachomatis.
Is triclosan in hand sanitizer?
Since hand sanitizer is an OTC drug, triclosan should be listed as an ingredient on the label if the product contains it.
The Bottom Line
Even though these hand sanitizer statistics show that using a hand sanitizer is an excellent on-the-go way to help prevent the spread of germs, it should always be your second-best choice.
Hand disinfectants are good, but nothing beats washing your hands — it’s the safest way of protecting them from viruses and germs.