How much alcohol content should sanitizer contain?

Any alcohol-based hand sanitizer should at least contain 60% ethyl alcohol or isopropyl alcohol. What this does is, kills bacteria and viruses.

Almost all alcohol-based sanitizers usually contain ethanol which is a colourless and clear liquid that people usually refer to as ethyl alcohol. In the article below, we will try to explain what to look for in a hand sanitizer, how much alcohol it should have in order to be effective, and tips on how to use it properly.

Now the question arises, how much ethanol should a hand sanitizer contain and why?

The CDC recommends people use a hand sanitizer that contains a minimum concentration of 60% alcohol or ethanol. This is because when a hand sanitizer contains 60-95% ethanol, it can easily kill germs, bacteria, fungi, or microbes, more effectively than the ones that have lower concentrations or none at all. Moreover, they may also only limit microbes from growing, rather than killing them completely.

A 2021 review done on hand sanitizer, mentioned how higher concentrations of ethanol can effectively kill microbes, but only to a certain level. Hence, there needs to be an amalgamation of ethanol and water to kill them completely. Keep an eye out for hand sanitizers with 70% alcohol content.

Is ethanol-based hand sanitizer truly effective?

As per CDC, washing hands with soap and water is the best option for preventing the spread of all kinds of microbes, and it also helps in removing chemicals from your hands. If and when soap and water are not easily accessible, ethanol hand sanitizer is still effective at killing viruses and bacteria. This can turn out to be a good option for a certain setting like hospitals or when you are using any public transportation.

Is it advisable to add alcohol to non-alcohol hand sanitizer?

Simple answer, no. Well, according to the FDA, it is completely not advisable to add alcohol to a non-alcohol hand sanitizer, and it will not make the existing hand sanitizer any more effective. If you decide to add alcohol, it might lead to skin irritation for hours.


In the end, if you are wondering how to pick an effective sanitizer, then don’t look any further. Below pointers will help you out:

  • Opt for a sanitizer that has an alcohol concentration of 60% or higher.
  • Ethyl alcohol, isopropanol, or 2-propanol, a key ingredient.
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