COVID-19 - Hand and other sanitisers effectiveness

This is an article on the ABC website…

It appears too much alcohol (100%) is an issue too.


So what?

Using a alcohol sanitiser with near 100% alcohol has efficacy limitations like ones less than 60%. Not knowing the % alcohol can lead on into a false sense of security if one thinks any level of alcohol is better than none.

Even if % alcohol is labelled on all products, having even more (~100%) does not necessarily means better. Likewise, one buying say straight ethanol, methanol or methylated spirits and using these to sanitise ones hands or surfaces may not have the desired effect,

BTW, the ones we have used in the past when travelling have had % alcohol on the bottles…but can’t remember what the concentration was…something I now plan to check.


Dettol Healthy Touch Instant Hand Sanitiser, Original, 50ml (from our travel kit) has no indication of the % alcohol content on the labels.

According to the Safety Data sheet it should be >60%.

The label does say “kills 99.99% of germs without water”. Which is probably the 30minute exposure rule?

Made in Malaysia, Reckitt Benckiser Sydney & Auckland.

As a nice touch the label does advise to store below 30C. Read the fine fine print! It might be wise to keep it in the fridge and not leave it in the car?


Thanks Mark, this is the point, ie, what is needed here is:

What products that don’t provide the essential data, and which ones do, so that we can determine

Which ones meet the criteria?

Which ones don’t?

We had someone ask about the Skin Nutrient brand which also does not display alcohol content. They do however display this information on their website. Might be worth checking for the brand and product online.


I trolled around for information on two hand sanitiser products we were fortunate to acquire prior to COVID-19 hitting. Neither has the alcohol content on the package, and the manufacturer/distributor web sites have nothing more than the labelled information.

Millers has been panned for the price, but they are offering a properly labelled product for pre-order.


From the TGA – As a result of the high demand for hand sanitisers, there are now three classes of hand sanitisers – general consumer products (‘cosmetics’), therapeutic goods and products with one of two specific formulations (excluded from TGA regulation for the duration of the COVID-19 pandemic).

Many more details in the page.


This is what we used to use as community nurses, as supplied by Health. It still doesnt specify the alcohol content.


These pre-orders are a bit of a trap, pay now but order processing is 6 wks from now!!

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A trap? How so? The 6 weeks is clearly specified. Some purchasers would be willing to pre-order on that basis and others would expect the shelves to have product in only a few more weeks. eg Toilet paper is now stocked in all our local Colesworths, a mere month after the shelves were always bare, although not all brands in all stores, there is no shortage of ‘toilet paper’ around NE Melbourne now.

A difference with sanitiser is that while the toilet paper manufacturing industry has ample capacity and added a night shift to catch up as it was reported, the sanitiser industry is reported to have less than required capacity and has its own problems in obtaining alcohol as well as its price. It may be that sanitisers will take quite a while to get back on shelves and it is probable the price will be higher than in recent history, so it is a punt which way to go, not a trap as I see it.


Just a quick hint if you can obtain the ingredients to make a reasonable hand sanitiser:

To 2 two parts of pure alcohol eg Methylated Spirits (tried to get the clear one as it has not been denatured with an ammonium compound but the coloured worked just as well), Ethanol, Specially Methylated Spririts , or iso propyl alcohol (used as a cleaning agent so often available in 1 litre bottles from hardware outlets) add 1 part pure aloe vera gell/liquid or water or a mix of both. This makes for a roughly 66% alcohol content sanitiser that is relatively kind to hands.


What about the hydrogen peroxide as recommended by WHO?


The trap seems obvious to me. For example: Rockmans: a store I have never used, ie, women’s clothing has sent me a promotional e-mail, with one leader being ‘low and behold’ Hand Santiser, a product the whole country is looking for, unless you are the PM, the small print, is the detail about pre-ordering. Chances are that within 6 wks, other sources will already be available, but the buyer has already paid for this without knowledge about availability, quality and prices of other sources, that aren’t marketting using this pre-order ploy.


In reading their site I only see a recommendation, that is often repeated there, to wash hands with warm soapy water (best choice) or use a 62-71% alcohol based hand sanitiser.

They do point to research that using a solution of 0.5% peroxide or greater will inactivate/kill the virus but it needs to be in contact with the surface for around 1 minute. I didn’t find it as a recommendation but it may be there just not so easy to find.


As per the link posted by @PhilT above.

And this article.


Most sanitisers use isopropyl alcohol.
It is much more toxic if ingested than ethyl alcohol. “very dangerous”. Can cause brain damage, rapidly. It’s not much fun, really!
Last I heard, while sanitisers are good, washing with soap ‘thoroughly’ - about 40 seconds by the clock (which feels like a long time) - followed by above-normal rinsing gets adequate results.

An interesting article regarding the manufacture of hand sanitizer and coronavirus price gouging.

Zidac Laboratories is quoted as producing some 32,000 bottles from 1 metric tonne of ethanol.

As a tonne of pure ethanol has a volume of 1,270 litres, it will be 1,587.5 litres when cut to 80%.which would make the 32,000 bottles of around 50ml each.

A cost of GBP 700 equates to around AUD $1,400 so the ethanol cost per 50ml bottle is about 4.375 cents each.

The plastic bottles probably cost more than the contents.

Sounds like a very lucrative business.

Of course the same tonne of ethanol cut to 40% would produce over 4,500 x 700ml bottles of spirits which would retail for over $135,000.

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No question about the hand washing. However, you can’t wash your hands while out shopping, even visiting the doctor. As a volunteer, when I do a pickup or delivery, what am I supposed to do? Don’t touch you face is obviously an intent, but difficult not to say rub an irritated eye!


Good points, can’t help. But I can share a joke. “Latest hand sanitiser - has Tabasco. Now you won’t DARE touch your face!”