Do Hand Sanitizers Work?

FDA asks makers of hand sanitizers to prove they’re safe and work as well as they claim.

Hand Sanitizer / Photo: Jeffrey Coolidge, Getty Images
Hand Sanitizer / Photo: Jeffrey Coolidge, Getty Images

Hand sanitizers seem to be everywhere these days, but do they actually work? According to a recent NBC News article, the FDA is targeting makers of hand sanitizers and asking for data backing up their claims. The FDA stressed that there’s no evidence to the contrary, but they haven’t updated their review of health care hand cleaners since 1994. However, there are some vague studies that show some of the ingredients maybe absorbed into the body. Since 90% of consumer hand sanitizers use ethanol or ethyl alcohol as their active ingredient, the FDA is asking for data on ethanol, isopropyl alcohol, and benzalkonium chloride.

This is the newest development in the FDA’s ongoing review of cleaning and hygiene products brought on by pressure from Congress and a lawsuit by the Natural Resources Defense Council. Last year, they investigated hospital disinfectants, and asked soap-makers to prove antibacterial chemicals actually kill germs in 2013. “It’s our responsibility to determine whether these products are safe and effective so that consumers can be confident when using them on themselves and their families multiple times a day,” said Dr. Janet Woodcock, director of the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research.

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