Since the beginning of the pandemic, we’ve been told to use alcohol-based hand sanitizers. But shelves that once were full of the germ-killing goo have gone bare. That’s ok, because research is finally catching up with what works and what doesn’t against the virus. And that applies not just to treatment but hand sanitizer too.
So just how important is the stuff in reducing your risk of a COVID-19 infection?
It looks like we can all relax a bit, at least as far as the “alcohol-based” part of the hand sanitizer recommendation goes…
Killing coronavirus: Alcohol or no alcohol
You see, according to scientists at Brigham Young University, it’s likely that the CDC initially advised the use of hand sanitizer containing alcohol thanks to the very limited research available on what actually works to disinfect SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes COVID-19).
Remember, we hear all of the time that it’s a “novel” virus. And when it comes to a brand-new virus, even the CDC can find themselves in the dark about what will and won’t work.
That’s why the BYU team set out to determine whether or not you really should stick with sanitizers containing alcohol, or if one without the ingredient would still do the trick.
To explore the effectiveness of other options, they treated samples of the novel coronavirus with benzalkonium chloride, which is commonly used in alcohol-free hand sanitizers, as well as several other compounds regularly found in disinfectants.
And guess what…
Their research showed that in most of the test cases, the compounds wiped out at least 99.9 percent of the virus within 15 seconds!
“Our results indicate that alcohol-free hand sanitizer works just as well, so we could, maybe even should, be using it to control COVID,” said lead study author Benjamin Ogilvie.
And if it’s flu or cold you’re worried about, put your mind at ease.
Hand sanitizers without alcohol are already proven to kill those viruses just as well too.
The advantage of alcohol-free hand sanitizers
The researchers even point out that alcohol-free hand sanitizers offer some important advantages over the alcohol-based ones.
- No burning feeling like the one you get with alcohol hand sanitizer
- Less irritation that makes it easier to use more often
- More options to choose from to alleviate the problem of shortages
And as we have all now seen, that last one may be the biggest advantage of all since you no longer have to worry about the bare shelves where the alcohol-based options used to be, and can instead pick up one of the alcohol-free hand sanitizers that have been ignored.
So, it seems that when it comes to fighting the virus that causes COVID, using hand sanitizer is all that truly matters — no whether or not your hand sanitizer contains alcohol.