You’ve been hearing it since childhood, but we’ll say it again for the people in the back: Keeping your hands clean is the easiest way to prevent sickness and stop the spread of germs. It’s not just a statement beloved by moms and kindergarten teachers, but a fact shared by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
While a thorough scrub-down with soap and water is the most effective way to clean your hands—it’s the best cleansing method for removing germs like norovirus, Cryptosporidium, and Clostridium difficile, according to the CDC—you won’t always have access to a sink. And even if a sink is nearby, washing your hands after every single exposure to a dirty surface (so, basically every second) can start to feel like an obsessive, time-sucking venture. Instead, it’s worth trying an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
Multiple studies have found that using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer in a water-constrained environment can be just as effective as handwashing with soap, if not more. Plus, with 97% of people improperly washing their hands, it’s no surprise that incorporating hand sanitizer into your hygiene routine can actually lead to less sick days, as researchers found in a 2018 study published in the Pediatrics journal.
To ensure you’re getting the most of your hand sanitizer, the CDC recommends using a formula with at least 60 to 95% alcohol concentration. This high concentration is critical because alcohol acts as a “denaturing agent” that kills or inactivates viruses, as Pritish K. Tosh, MD, a Mayo Clinic infectious disease physician and researcher, previously told Health.
To help you find the best sanitizers that meet CDC requirements, we collected the top picks available to shop online right now. Unfortunately, options are limited due to the current novel coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak—many major brands, including Purell and GermX, are sold out. But the good news is that there are still plenty of top-rated hand sanitizing products available to stock up on now so you can stay as healthy as possible. Here are the best hand sanitizers:
- Best Scent: Megababe Squeaky Clean Hand Sanitizer
- Best Spray: Orly Hand Sanitizer Spray
- Best Sustainable: by Humankind Hand Sanitizer
- Best with Aloe: Tony Moly Aloe Chok Chok Hand Sanitizing Gel
- Best Hydrating: Pipette Hand Sanitizer
- Best Bundle: 100% Pure Hand Sanitizer Spray
- Best with CBD: Highline Wellness CBD Hand Sanitizer
- Most Potent: Peter Thomas Roth Hand Sanitizer
- Best for Sensitive Skin: Art Naturals’ Hand Sanitizer
Unlike many other hand sanitizers on the market, Megababe’s plant-based option smells like calming bergamont and citrus peel rather than alcohol. Every spritz delivers a 60% alcohol concentration to kill fungus, germs, and microbes without leaving your skin with a sticky residue. You’ll also love that the vegan formula doesn’t dry out skin and boasts nourishing ingredients like marula oil, sweet almond oil, and aloe vera. It’s available in both a small 2-ounce container or 16-ounce pump container.
This sanitizer’s streamlined formula skips fragrances and oils in favor of efficiency. The spray-on formula has just 4 ingredients—hydrogen peroxide, glycerin, purified water, and 75% isopropyl alcohol—to keep your hands clean when soap and water just aren’t an option. Your purchase also gives back; each 4-pack sold is matched with a donation of one bottle to the city of Los Angeles, and that’s in addition to the 10,000 units Orly has already donated.
Wellness brand by Humankind is all about promoting a more sustainable lifestyle, and its latest launch is no exception. Its ethically-made hand sanitizer—available in grapefruit or unscented formulas—boasts a 65% alcohol concentration and hyaluronic acid, an anti-aging ingredient that helps skin hold water. In an effort to reduce waste, the brand’s 8-ounce bottle is made from aluminum and holds enough product to refill a pocket-sized bottle 4 times. Plus, $1 from every hand sanitizer sold is donated to The Robin Hood Relief fund in New York City.