What are the Active Ingredients of Hand Sanitisers?

In recent times with the COVID-19 pandemic in particular we have all become aware of the importance of clean hands. An alternative to water and soap that has become increasingly popular are hand sanitisers, but what are they made of exactly? Here we explore “what are the active ingredients of hand sanitisers?”

What is an active ingredient?

According to the World Health Organisation, an active pharmaceutical ingredient is:

pharmacological activity or to otherwise have direct effect in the diagnosis, cure,

mitigation, treatment, or prevention of disease, or to have direct effect in restoring,

correcting or modifying physiological functions in human beings.

Essentially the active ingredient in hand sanitisers is the ingredient that kills viruses, bacteria, and other pathogens.

What Forms of hand sanitisers are available?

There is no “one size fits all” when it comes to hand sanitisers with popular forms including foam, liquid, gel, and spray. It is not so much the form of hand sanitiser which is important, it is the ability to kill viruses and bacteria upon contact, which is critical. This will depend on the formula in use and its active ingredients.

Alcohol-free or alcohol-based?

Hand sanitisers largely fall into two main categories, alcohol-free and alcohol-based.


Alcohol-free hand sanitisers are usually either based on:

  • Antimicrobial agents – such as triclosan (although this is now banned in some US states due to health concerns, such as antibiotic resistance)
  • Disinfectants – such as Benzalkonium Chloride (BAC) and Hypochlorous Acid (HOCI)

Both antimicrobial agents and disinfectants kill viruses and bacteria immediately upon impact. The effectiveness varies from one brand/formula to another.


An alternative are alcohol-based sanitisers. These typically have up to 95% alcohol concentration and are usually based on forms of ethanol or isopropanol. The alcohol neutralises viruses and bacteria upon impact.

Other added ingredients

Other ingredients which may be added include:

  • Emollients (such as glycerin) – these soothe the skin
  • Fragrances – to make the hand sanitiser smell pleasant

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As the image says our hand sanitiser spray kills 99.99% of viruses and bacteria

As the image says our hand sanitiser spray kills 99.99% of viruses and bacteria

Image Source: insert from media gallery

What is the active ingredient used in Coler Medical PPE hand sanitisers?

Here at Coler Medical PPE we actively use Hypochlorous Acid (HOCI) in all our hand sanitiser products. Hypochlorous Acid (HOCI) naturally occurs in the human body to aid in defence against viruses, bacteria, and other pathogens. HOCI kills 99.99% of microorganisms on contact. Being a natural environmentally-friendly product, HOCI is alcohol-free, and vegan/halal certified and is a safe alternative to risks associated with alcohol/chemical hand sanitisers.

Our Hypochlorous Acid MIST-IFY Instant is 99.99% water, which is PH Neutral to the skin and hydrates your skin and sanitises it as well.

How Coler can help

We are only a phone call away on +44 (0) 1827 794 294 for advice and support relating to hand sanitisers and their active ingredients. Coler Medical PPE can also be emailed at info@colermedical-ppe.co.uk. For full contact information view our contact us page, where you can also complete our contact form.

Image Credit: Gerd Altmann