Alcohol-free sanitiser can eliminate Covid-19 too, says new study

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  • Alcohol-free hand sanitisers work just as well as alcohol-based ones
  • Governments  may need to change their hand sanitiser prevention strategy
  • This is a new option for people who get eczema from alcohol-based sanitiser 

Alcohol-free hand sanitiser has been found to be as effective as alcohol-based ones on surfaces in fighting Covid-19, according to a new study published in the Journal of Hospital Infection.

The study was conducted by Brigham Young University, where researchers tested samples of Covid-19 with benzalkonium chloride, which is commonly used in alcohol-free hand sanitisers and other quaternary ammonium compounds that are found in regular household disinfectants.

The results showed that these disinfectants wipe out at least 99.9% of the virus within 15 seconds.

A game-changer

As part of Covid-19 prevention guidelines, the World Health Organization recommended that people use alcohol-based hand rub product containing between 60% and 80% alcohol.

The South African health ministry also recommends alcohol-based sanitisers as a preventative tool.

The results of the new research can, however, be a game-changer, the study authors believe. 

“This may actually provide a change in government directions about hand sanitiser,” said co-author Brad Berges in a press release.

"It just seems like during this pandemic, the non-alcohol-based hand sanitisers have been thrown by the wayside because the government was saying, 'We don't know that these work', due to the novelty of the virus and the unique lab conditions required to run tests on it."

Also effective against other viruses

Previously, Health24 reported on how alcohol-based hand sanitisers have caused hand eczema in healthcare workers and the general population.

"Benzalkonium chloride can be used in much lower concentrations and does not cause the familiar 'burn' feeling you might know from using alcohol-based hand sanitiser.

"It can make life easier for people who have to sanitize their hands a lot, like healthcare workers, and maybe even increase compliance with sanitising guidelines," said lead study author Benjamin Ogilvie.

"Our results indicate that alcohol-free hand sanitiser works just as well, so we could, maybe even should, be using it to control Covid," he said.

Ogilvie added that the alcohol-free products do not only work for preventing Covid-19 but are also effective in fighting against the common cold and flu viruses.

READ | Your health is in your hands

READ | DIY hand sanitiser: Why there shouldn't be an over-reliance on it for coronavirus protection

READ | The most effective ways to kill coronavirus in your home 

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