Wow, many are temped, especially now, to buy one of the many hand sanitizers whose label says it “kills 99.99% of illness causing germs.” But that does not mean the product will protect you against the novel coronavirus.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends rubbing on hand sanitizers with at least 60% alcohol when you aren’t able to wash your hands. Huge pumps and multipacks of bottles are flying off store shelves. But “alcohol-free” products — which are not recommended by the CDC — are also getting snatched up in the consumer frenzy.
Some of the hand sanitizers made by the brands Purell and Germ-X rely on benzalkonium chloride instead of alcohol as the active ingredient. Such non-alcohol antiseptic products may not work as well for many types of germs, the CDC says, or may merely reduce the growth of germs rather than killing them. They may be better than nothing, experts say. But people are buying them without knowing the difference.