COVID-19: Hand sanitizers inactivate novel coronavirus, study finds


Tests have confirmed that two hand sanitizer formulations recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO) inactivate the virus that causes coronavirus disease 19 (COVID-19), norovirus etc. The tests also provide reassurance that some store-bought sanitizers combat the virus.

close up of woman's hands using sanitizing gel

The results of the new tests have been published as a preprint in the journal Emerging Infectious Diseases.

In the absence of a vaccine or effective antiviral drugs, hand hygiene is a mainstay of efforts to prevent the spread of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), the virus that causes COVID-19.

People who have the infection may show few, if any, symptoms, but still be able to transmit the virus. The virus spreads via droplets in the air or on commonly used surfaces, such as door handles.

Washing the hands thoroughly with soap and water for at least 20 seconds is a highly effective way to defend against harmful bacteria and viruses.

Hand washing isn’t always practical, however, especially for healthcare workers. This is due to a lack of access to running water, and a lack of sufficient time to wash the hands thoroughly.

Meanwhile, this group may be exposed to infection from a variety of sources throughout the course of each day.

Alcohol-based hand sanitizers provide a quick, simple alternative. However, there has been a lack of hard evidence that they are effective against SARS-CoV-2.

What is Food Grade Alcohol?

Answer: “Food grade alcohol” means ethyl alcohol that is safe for human consumption because of it’s purity (ie lack of additives).  Period.  Food grade alcohol goes by many names in the industry, including “food grade ethanol”, “nondenatured alcohol”, “grain alcohol”, or “190 proof grain”, and “food grade EtOH”, “Anhydrous Ethanol”.  Denatured alcohol is not food grade alcohol.

Fun fact: The word “ethanol” was picked in 1892 as a combination of the chemistry term “ethane” (for the carbon chain) and “ol” (for being in the alcohol group).  

Are all hand sanitizers created equal?

It’s important to make sure any hand sanitizer you do use contains at least 60 percent alcohol. 

Studies have found that sanitizers with lower concentrations or non-alcohol-based hand sanitizers are not as effective at killing germs as those with less than 80% percent ethanol/alcohol.

In particular, non-alcohol-based sanitizers may not work equally well on different types of germs and could cause some germs to develop resistance to the sanitizer.




The WHO recommend two alcohol-based sanitizer formulations to prevent the spread of pathogens in general.

Now, scientists in Germany and Switzerland have tested the sanitizers’ effectiveness against SARS-CoV-2.

The first sanitizer comprises:

  • ethanol — 80% by volume (vol/vol)
  • glycerine (also known as glycerol) — 1.45% vol/vol
  • hydrogen peroxide — 0.125% vol/vol

The second sanitizer comprises:

  • isopropanol (also known as 2-propanol or isopropyl alcohol) — 75% vol/vol
  • glycerine — 1.45% vol/vol
  • hydrogen peroxide — 0.125% vol/vol

The researchers exposed SARS-CoV-2 virus particles to each formulation for 30 seconds.

When they tested the subsequent ability of the virus to infect cells in lab cultures, they found that both formulations had inactivated the virus.

The team was led by Professor Stephanie Pfänder, of the Department for Molecular and Medical Virology at Ruhr-Universität Bochum, in Germany.

“We showed that both WHO-recommended formulations sufficiently inactivate the virus after 30 seconds,” says Prof. Pfänder.

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Destroying viruses

Alcohol attacks and destroys the envelope protein that surrounds some viruses, including coronaviruses. This protein is vital for a virus’s survival and multiplication. But a hand sanitizer needs to be at least 60% alcohol in order to kill most viruses.

Hand sanitizers with less than 60% alcohol were also found to be less effective at killing bacteria and fungi and may only reduce the growth of germs rather than killing them outright.

And even hand sanitizers containing 60% alcohol can’t remove all types of germs. Studies have found that hand washing is more effective than hand sanitizers at removing norovirusCryptosporidium (a parasite that can cause diarrhoea), and Clostridium difficile (bacteria which cause bowel problems and diarrhoea).

With shortages leading some people to try and make their own hand sanitizers, it’s also important to know these might not be as effective as commercially available products.

Manal Mohammed, Lecturer, Medical Microbiology, University of Westminster

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Sanitizer Wipe Production

Hand sanitizer production

80% USP NPN Ethanol Hand Sanitizer


The ONLY NPN Food Grade Sanitizer approved by Health Canada.
World Health Organization
recommended blend of the following:
• Ethanol 80% v/v
• Glycerol 1.45% v/v
• Hydrogen Peroxide 0.125% v/v

Cases: 24 bottles / 500 ML
Bottle Top: Flat or Sport Available
Skids: 60 cases / 24 pack
Truckload: 22 Skids
Total bottles / Truckload: 31,680 bottles

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80% Ethanol Sanitizer Disposable Wipes


NPN USP Sanitizer approved by Health Canada.
World Health Organization
recommended blend of the following:

• Ethanol 80% v/v
• Glycerol 1.45% v/v
• Hydrogen Peroxide 0.125% v/v

Minimum 1000 Wipes Pre-Order

Shipping available across Canada


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4L NPN 80% Ethyl Alcohol Gel Hand Sanitizer


Active Ingredients:
• Ethyl Alcohol 80%
• Antibacterial
• Premium Skin Conditioner & Moisturizer
• Kills Harmful Bacteria and Germs

Inactive Ingredients:
Hydroxypropylcellulose (naturally derived)
Isopropyl Myristate
Laurly Lactate
Cetyl Lactate
Denatonium Benzoate (bittering agent)

Cases: 4 Jugs per case / 4L each
Skids: 27 cases / 108 Jugs

Minimum One (1) Case Order

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Our Hand Sanitizer uses some non-traditional additives (to thicken the product a bit, provide skin conditioning/moisturizing, etc).  It is more slippery and lubricating than other sanitizers, but it still dries pretty quick (20 seconds roughly) and it leaves your hands feeling pretty good/soft/etc.  The key is to not use a ton of it…just a little bit.

The alcohol content in Hand Sanitizers is required to be a minimum of 60% if it’s an Ethyl Alcohol based product or 65% minimum if it’s Isopropyl Alcohol based.  

Most people make a 70% product so they aren’t at the bare minimum…we decided to go to 80% Ethyl Alcohol.  

This high concentration makes our product different than pretty much anyone else’s in Canada.  We chose 80% since it is the level that the US FDA wants to see right now.  I should also mention that hand sanitizers can be made using either Ethyl Alcohol or Isopropyl Alcohol.  Both are good at killing bacteria but Ethyl Alcohol is better at killing viruses (which is a big deal obviously right now).  Our product is Ethyl Alcohol Based.

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