What should a hand sanitizer have?
Choose one that contains mostly alcohol and has few other ingredients.
According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, hand sanitizer products should be at least 60% ethyl alcohol or 70% isopropyl alcohol. Other approved ingredients may include sterile distilled water, hydrogen peroxide and glycerin, according to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
You should avoid any product that contains methanol or 1-propanol, as both can be highly toxic. The FDA warns that care must be taken with disinfectants included in food and beverage containers, as accidentally ingesting them can be dangerous.
Health authorities also ask to avoid hand sanitizers that substitute benzalkonium chloride for alcohol, which is less effective at killing certain bacteria and viruses. Making your own product at home is also not recommended: improper mixing of chemicals can be ineffective or cause skin burns.
Hand sanitizer should only be used when you can’t wash your hands with soap and water, said Barun Mathema, an infectious disease researcher at Columbia University. Washing your hands is better to kill more germs.