How Hand Sanitisers Improve Your Health



Hand sanitiser or hand rub is a liquid, gel or foam that is typically used to clean the hands. It exterminates and kills bacteria, viruses and other disease-causing pathogens. Hand sanitisers typically come in either foam, gel or liquid form. Hand sanitisers are a quick fix remedy and it is relatively ineffective in comparison to washing hands with soap and water. Hand sanitisers are recommended in absence of accessibility to soap and water. Hand sanitiser is also susceptible to incorrect usage by users. Many individuals tend to wipe off-hand sanitiser before it has dried off nullifying its effect partially.

Types of Hand Sanitisers

Hand sanitiser is classified into two types. The classification is based on the active ingredient used. They are alcohol-based and alcohol-free. Alcohol-based hand sanitisers usually contain between 60 and 95 per cent alcohol. It is usually a mixture of ethanol, isopropanol and n-propanol. At these levels of concentration, alcohol denatures the protein structures found in disease-causing pathogens.

Alcohol-free sanitisers use disinfectants like benzalkonium chloride or an antimicrobial chemical compound like triclosan. The effect of both alcohol and non-alcohol based hand sanitiser is noticed immediately after applying the hand sanitiser on hand. Many hand sanitisers, also contain emollients, added fragrance and thickening agents.

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Emollients are supposed to give a soothing effect to the skin for example glycerin. It keeps the skin supple and rejuvenated. The added fragrance gives an olfactory appeal to the hand sanitiser.


The effectiveness of hand sanitisers is influenced by several external factors. A few factors taken into consideration are how the product is applied, quantity used, period of exposure, frequency of use and whether the pathogens on an individual’s hands are resilient or not to the hand sanitiser. Usually, if alcohol-based hand sanitisers, applied generously on hand and are rubbed thoroughly for thirty seconds or more, ensuring complete air drying, can significantly reduce the bacteria, fungus and other enveloped viruses on an individual’s hands. Similar effects have been recorded for non-alcohol based hand sanitisers as well. However, the majority of hand sanitisers are ineffective against, nonenveloped viruses, bacterial spores and encysted parasites.

Impact of the pandemic on Hand Sanitiser Market

The pandemic has led to a huge uptick in demand for hand sanitisers across the globe. Major players in hand sanitiser markets are significantly increasing their volume of production and optimizing their supply chains to cater to the sudden surge in demand for hand sanitisers.

Since the initial outbreak of the virus, in China, the demand has stood at a steady level globally. However, since the virus started spreading at an unprecedented rate, a huge surge in demand for hand sanitisers was observed. People especially in advanced economies like U.S, Italy and U.K started to panic buy and hoard hand sanitisers.

It is estimated that the Y-o-Y increase of hand sanitiser demand as of February 2020 in the U.K was over 250%. It was a staggering 1800% increase in Italy. Indian manufacturers have observed a tenfold increase in demand over February 2020. It was estimated that the Indian government gave more than 45 distilleries and 564 other manufacturers permission to manufacture hand sanitisers. A substantial consumer base is being drawn to the hand sanitiser market owing to its portability and convenience over conventional washing with soap and water.

The supply-side impact was also deeply amplified. Major hand sanitiser producers significantly ramped up their production. Since, January 2020 in anticipation of the increase in demand, the supply to retail hand sanitiser outlets like medical shops and pharmacies have risen significantly. Almost, all hand sanitiser suppliers are working at full capacity now. They are also looking at employing additional labour and capital to further increase their capacity. Some methods being employed are leveraging third-party manufacturers and employing small scale manufacturers.

Major Players in Hand Sanitiser Market

A few major players in the hand sanitiser market are as follows. 3M is a multinational company having a global presence. Its US headquarters is in Saint Paul, Minnesota. By market share, they possess a significant volume of the market share.

Reckitt Benckiser group dominates the hand sanitiser market globally. They are a multinational company headquartered in Slough, United Kingdom. They also specialise in other disinfectants and antiseptic products like Dettol.

Unilever PLC is another major player in the hand sanitiser market. They are a UK based company and headquartered in London. They dominate the market in a few commonwealth nations. Colgate-Palmolive Company is another company with a major share in the global hand sanitiser market. They are headquartered at New York in the United States.

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