BestReviews is reader-supported and may earn an affiliate commission. Details
The gel hand sanitizer is effective against 99.99% of germs. It moisturizes your hands and enriches them with vitamin E. Great for offices and small businesses.
The smell can overpower the room for some people.
Purell kills 99.99% of common hand germs and bacteria and moisturizes your hands in the process. It evaporates quickly and leaves behind a refreshing scent. You can refill the bottle.
Some bottles arrived with broken pumps. The alcohol sometimes lingers on the skin.
The easy-to-use pump-action lid is ideal for event tables, offices, and classrooms. The subtle smell won't overwhelm the room with every pump. The large bottles last a long time.
Pump is known to break with little warning.
This moisturizing formula doesn't sacrifice function despite its versatility. The 61% alcohol content won't cover up the skincare benefits. Cruelty-free formula with the reliable performance you expect from Dove.
Some people don't like the smell.
This climate-friendly sanitizer comes in a 12-ounce bottle. It's handy to have in your office desk, car, or home and won't leave behind unsavory smells. The natural formula is great for sensitive skin.
Some claims that it oozes out of the bottle in warm climates.
We recommend these products based on an intensive research process that's designed to cut through the noise and find the top products in this space. Guided by experts, we spend hours looking into the factors that matter, to bring you these selections.
When you spend time in public places, you know how important it is to keep your hands clean to avoid the spread of germs, illnesses, and bacteria. Since a sink isn’t always within reach to wash your hands, hand sanitizer is an effective defense to keep germs at bay. Hand sanitizers are waterless hygiene products that are convenient, especially if you’re a commuter, educator, or healthcare worker. Some formulas are over 99% effective at reducing the spread of illness-causing germs.
There’s a wide variety of hand sanitizers to choose from. If you want a cost-effective formula, stick with traditional alcohol-based sanitizers to get the most bang for your buck. However, there are also specialty formulas with organic ingredients and chemical alternatives if you have allergies, sensitive skin, or are looking for a hand sanitizer that’s safe for kids.
Most hand sanitizers come in gel form. Unlike other gels like hair gel, hand sanitizer usually has a watery consistency and drips off quickly if you don’t work it into your hands. Gels can get messy, but they tend to be the least expensive hand sanitizers. As a result, gel hand sanitizers are often found in extra-large dispensers in classrooms, offices, and hospitals.
Liquid and foam hand sanitizers both have lightweight consistencies that are ideal for travel and personal use. Not only are they less messy than gels, there’s little wasted product with these hand sanitizers. They’re usually significantly more expensive, however. That said, some consumers find real value with liquid and foam sanitizers as a little goes a long way.
No matter which hand sanitizer you choose, you’ll need to dispense an adequate amount for it to be effective. When it comes to gel sanitizer, a quarter-size amount is sufficient. For any spray or foam sanitizer, the packaging will indicate how many pumps are required, which is usually one to four. Once you have the sanitizer in your hands, rub it in as though you are washing your hands with soap. Hand sanitizer dries in seconds, leaving no residue behind, so you can continue with normal activities, protected from germs.
The active ingredient in most hand sanitizers is ethyl alcohol, making up between 60% and 70% of the formula. Inactive ingredients vary between hand sanitizers, though most contain water, glycerin, acetate, and fragrances. Many hand sanitizers also include moisturizing ingredients in the form of oils, aloe vera, or vitamin E.
There are hand sanitizers with specialty formulas that are alcohol-free or free of the harsh chemicals found in regular sanitizers. Alcohol-free formulas won’t dry out or burn your skin, so they’re ideal for children or those with sensitive skin. Other hand sanitizers aim to be as chemical-free as possible and are free of parabens, sulfates, phthalates, dyes, and fragrances. These sanitizers tend to have plant-derived ingredients in place of chemicals.
For budget-friendly value packs of hand sanitizers, expect to spend between $8 and $12. You’ll get travel-size bottles or eight-ounce pump-bottle sanitizers. These hand sanitizers come from recognized brands with solid reputations for effective formulas.
If you need a sizable amount of hand sanitizer, expect to spend between $12 and $25 on a value pack. In this price range, you can find 32-ounce bottles of hand sanitizers, but they’re usually from lesser-known brands. Many of these bottles are refills with regular caps, though some have pumps.
At the top of the price range, between $25 and $40, are multi-packs from leading brands. You’ll find plenty of 32-ounce bottles of hand sanitizers from respected brands as well as specialty formulas and liquid and foam consistencies.
A. There are a number of hand sanitizers with formulas derived from plant-based ingredients, rather than harsh chemicals. If you’re looking for ethically sourced products, there are many hand sanitizers that are cruelty-free and fair trade, and these brands often list their testing labs on the packaging or on their websites. Some hand sanitizers have biodegradable formulas and are also packaged in recyclable containers.
A. The CDC reports that alcohol-free hand sanitizers aren’t as effective for combatting certain germs and microbes. They’re still considered effective as antiseptics, but their scope is somewhat limited compared to alcohol-based formulas. On the upside, many alcohol-free formulas stay active longer – sometimes up to six hours – for long-term effectiveness. Alcohol-based hand sanitizers have much shorter windows, so reapplication is often necessary.
A. You could have open wounds or broken skin on your hands, which will sting if they come into contact with hand sanitizer, particularly alcohol-based formulas. Some hand sanitizers also have parabens, which can cause a burning sensation for some individuals with sensitive skin. If you’re experiencing burning when using hand sanitizer, switch to an alcohol-free formula with gentle ingredients that are suitable for sensitive skin.
Get emails you’ll love.
Learn about the products you’re wondering if you should buy and get advice on using your latest purchases.