It's Hand Sanitizer Season, but did you know…?

  • Nov 9, 2010

Hand sanitizers have been an effective and popular promotional product for a few years. Our customers have used them to put their names in front of their customers in all kinds of different situations, in every shape and form imaginable. There are pens, sprayers, squeeze bottles, pump bottles, wipes, and more. The positive association with good health can be great for branding. Naturally, we've seen greatly increased interest the past few months due to the very real concern about the H1N1 flu virus. But there may be a few things you don't know.

There are many different formulations for sanitizers, but they break down into two categories: alcohol and SAB. According to the CDC, alcohol-based sanitizers can be as effective as hand washing with soap and water in killing germs and protecting against bacterial infection. (Yes, hand washing is considered the best option, but sometimes it is not convenient.) Concentrations of alcohol in products on the market can vary from 65% down to as little as 40%. The CDC has concluded from its tests that a minimum of 60% alcohol is required for a sanitizer to be effective in killing germs. It's important to check what you're buying to be sure. Discount products may be too weak to do any good.

Hand sanitizers are among the most popolar products for combating the swine flu

Another concern is that alcohol-based sanitizers are highly flammable. Those with a concentration over 62% cannot be shipped by UPS or FedEx, due to their safety regulations. Therefore, there are few products on the market for promotional purposes that exceed 62%, though they are occasionally seen. This is because the higher concentrations, sometimes used in hospitals, must be shipped by truck, which requires large quantities to keep costs down.

The CDC recommends using enough sanitizer that it takes 15 seconds of rubbing to evaporate. (Once they evaporate, they've done their job.) That is generally a dime-sized dollop, more than many people use. Less than that is considered ineffective. Also, with prolonged use, alcohol-based sanitizers tend to dry out the skin. Some formulations offset this with the addition of moisturizers. You may see aloe and other additives advertised, but be careful as these are often found in products with less than 60% alcohol.

Rather than risk exposure to children, flammability, or drying of the skin, some people may prefer to use SAB-based sanitizers. Never heard of that? Well, probably not by that name. But it's actually the most common over-the-counter antiseptic sold. SAB (Surfactant, Allantoin, Benzalkonium Chloride) is the active ingredient in Bactine. Hand sanitizers made with SAB are not flammable, and offer 2-4 hours of protection after application. In contrast to alcohol-based products, they actually become more effective with repeated use.

There are appropriate situations for using both types. To make sure your marketing works best for you, call us to discuss your needs. We're happy to advise you.

Did You Know?

APTCO offers the Gift of Choice program. Your recipients can choose from brand names ranging from Apple to Weber.

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