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Alcohol Based Hand Sanitisers The Facts

When Protecting Against Viruses


Protecting your family against infection and disease is a major challenge for every household and everyone involved in healthcare and the food industry, so it is important to know that the products you choose will give the right result, without compromising your health or the environment.

During the high of the Covid-19 Pandemic, Hand Sanitisers are in the news all the time, but unfortunately, there is a lot of misleading information floating around about what you should use.

Currently the best advice given by the WHO, the Government and, through the media, is to regularly wash your hands with soap & water. Then, in the next breath, you are advised that if soap & water is not available, you should use a hand sanitiser with at least 60% alcohol!

This simple, unqualified statement, is misleading people into believing that only alcohol based hand sanitisers will work, which is manifestly untrue. It's worth remembering that soap & water has no alcohol, yet it is the preferred hand cleansing method.

A 60% concentration is only true for true for alcohol based hand sanitisers, because they are not very effective. It does not apply to hand sanitisers that use alternative technologies.

Although Alcohol Based Hand Sanitisers (ABHS) have a proven track record in killing a wide range of pathogens, they are not the panacea that people are led to believe. Essentially, all viruses contain the following two components: 1) a nucleic acid genome and 2) a protein capsid that covers the genome. Together this is called the nucleocapsid. In addition, many animal viruses contain a 3) lipid envelope. The entire intact virus is called the virion.

According to the US Centres for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC), alcohol-based hand sanitisers are not effective against non-enveloped viruses, such as Norovirus, the leading cause of illness and outbreaks from contaminated food in the United States.

Researches in Germany, measured the virus-inhibitory effect of three types of alcohol (ethanol, 1-propanol, and 2-propanol) in vitro and in vivo with artificially contaminated fingertips. This study showed that ethanol and 1-propanol had higher log10 viral reduction values than did 2-propanol, which was not considered adequate by those authors. In one study of experimental human norovirus hand contamination liquid soap wash and water rinse were superior to ethanol-based sanitisers based on viral recovery through quantitative RT-PCR.

Triclosan-containing soaps and several other alcohol based-hand rubs showed inadequate levels of virus reduction.

Given the afore mentioned shortcomings of ABHS, we are fortunate (if fortunate is the right expression) that the recent Coronavirus outbreak involved an enveloped virus, otherwise the use of ABHS would provide limited protection.

Sadly, what you are not told by the repeated media messages, is that the frequent use of ABHS is not without its problems and that caution should be exercised. The following issues should be taken into account before frequent use of ABHS is adopted:

  • High alcohol concentrations (60%+) represent a significant fire risk, as stated by the UK Association of Chief Fire Officers.
  • They are extremely dangerous if consumed, particularly by young children (from 2011 to 2015, U.S. poison control centres received nearly 85,000 calls about alcohol-based hand sanitiser exposures among children).
  • They can be extremely dangerous if inhaled.
  • Without a number of additives, regular use will damage your skin and can even lead to symptoms of dermatitis.
  • Damaged skin will increase the risk of infection.
  • Increased risk for people with eczema and other skin complaints.
  • Cannot be fogged, to decontaminate every surface and those hard to reach places, because of the extreme fire risk.
  • ABHS wall mounted dispensers have been found to damage floors and walls and stain the areas where leaks have occurred.

A study by the US CDC found that frequent use of ABHS by children, often resulted in stomach ache, vomiting and itching in eyes. The study was conducted between 2011 and 2014 and involved almost 70,000 children infected by alcohol based hand sanitisers.

According to Research, scientists found that these ailments were recorded in 91% of children aged 5 or less.

Reducing The Risk

All credit must go to the US Environmental Protection Agency for being so pro-active in assisting the public and others, during the recent pandemic, by publishing a list in March 2020 of "products that meet EPA’s criteria for use against SARS-CoV-2, the novel coronavirus that causes the disease COVID-19."

The EPA list contained 351 registered products that people could buy in the United States - interestingly only 29 of which contain alcohol. So much for the advice given in the media. Importantly it lists a variety of products that use alternative active ingredients, such as Hypochlorous Acid, which is the active ingredient in Dew Disinfect Products.

In truth, an alcohol based hand sanitiser is a blunt instrument, hence the requirement for a minimum 60% concentration to ensure that it will work, whereas other, more advanced disinfection technologies, like Hypochlorous Acid, only require an active ingredient of just 0.05% or less, to be effective and, they don't carry the same negative baggage that ABHS has associated with it.

A paper published in June 2017 by Eric Moorman, Naim Montazeri, and Lee-Ann Jaykus, from the North Carolina State University, concluded that: “Neutral Electrolysed Water at 250 ppm FAC (Hypochlorous Acid) was effective against the epidemic human NoV GII.4 Sydney strain of the Norovirus, producing a 4.8-log10 reduction in RNA copy number.”

This virus is extremely hard to inactivate, many, many times more difficult than Coronavirus, providing further proof that sanitisers that utilise Hypochlorous Acid are extremely effective against all types of viruses.

Dew Disinfect Products are much safer, because they contain NO alcohol, instead their active ingredient is Hypochlorous Acid, which is produced naturally by our bodies when fighting an infection. They are hypoallergenic, certified by Allergy UK and offer a more convenient and effective option than soap & water, additionally, they can safely be sprayed directly onto your face, or face-mask, reducing the risk of cross contamination still further.

Regulatory Compliance

In order to comply with the registration requirement of the UK/EU Biocide Regulation EU 528/2012 and to be listed under Article 95 of that regulation, for Product Types 1 to 5, Disinfection Products must have been tested and shown to be in compliance with the following:

  • EN 1276 - Chemical Disinfectants Bactericidal Activity Testing.
  • EN 1499 - Chemical disinfectants and antiseptics: Hygienic hand wash.
  • EN 1500 - Chemical disinfectants and antiseptics: Hygienic hand rub.
  • EN 1650 - Quantitative suspension test for the evaluation of fungicidal or yeasticidal activity of chemical disinfectants and antiseptics used in food, industrial, domestic and institutional areas.
  • EN 13623 - Quantitative suspension test for the evaluation of bactericidal activity against Legionella.
  • EN 13697 - Quantitative Surface Test for the Evaluation of Bactericidal or Fungicidal Activity.
  • EN 14476 - Chemical Disinfectants and Antiseptics – Quantitative Suspension Test for the Evaluation of Virucidal Activity in the Medical Area.

All Dew Disinfect Products have successfully been tested to these EN tests.


Use biocides safely. Always read the the label and product information before use

Stay Safe

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