Alcohol-based hand sanitizer so the ubiquitous little squeeze bottle heroes of airports and hospitals are allies against the flu and supposedly effective against all the things in the area, but what’s in there, and is it true that they killed 99.99% of germs. Most Popular hand Sanitizers are alcohol-based. The active ingredient is around 70% alcohol depending on the formulation, the alcohol can either be ethanol, which is the same stuff in your booze isopropanol the stuff and rubbing alcohol or end propanol, rubbing alcohol is a chemical sibling. They all pretty much work the same way though, which is by dissolving the outer coats of bacteria and viruses and exploding them.
Alcohol is polar with water-loving hydroxyl groups and it loves to disrupt the protein and lifted molecules that make up both bacterial membranes and viral envelopes. When those all-important outer coats fall apart. These disease-causing culprits spill their guts all over the place, leaving them in no position to make anyone sick. But what about people who never touch hands? sanitizer because it will breed unkillable super germs that will kill us all. That’s a valid concern with antibiotics which are chemicals that target some point in the bacterial lifecycle. The antibiotics and antimicrobial hand soap can lead to the emergence of bacterial strains that are resistant and harder to kill. But resistance isn’t a problem with alcohol-based hand sanitizers. Bacteria can’t develop resistance to having their proteins and membranes blasted. So these alcohol-based hand rubs aren’t going to stop working.
Make sure they are alcohol-based, though some contain antibiotics instead of alcohol and those do carry the risk of resistance. But alcohol and water alone do not make that do its alcohol that does the germ murdering but there’s other stuff in there. The biggest one is glycerol. glycerol is chemically alcohol but unlike its cousins, it’s in there not to kill the germs but to give the hand sanitizer it’s gooey consistency that makes it more portable and easier to use. Otherwise, it’d be like pouring vodka on your hands and don’t pour vodka on your hand’s guys, come on. But while alcohol is all you need to kill germs, it’s not all that goes in there ethanol in isolation. All can dry out your skin, glycerol will help counteract that effect, but so do a host of other additives manufacturers might put in.