According to a study conducted by a group of researchers at Brigham Young University, alcohol-free hand sanitizer is just as effective at disinfecting surfaces from the COVID-19 virus as alcohol-based products.
The BYU scientists, who conducted the study, suspected that the CDC’s preference for alcohol sanitizer branched from as-yet limited research on what really works to disinfect SARS-CoV-2.
To discover other options, they treated samples of the novel coronavirus with benzalkonium chloride. Benzalkonium chloride is commonly used in alcohol-free hand sanitisers. Several other quaternary ammonium compounds are also regularly found in disinfectants.
The compounds wiped out at least 99.9 per cent of the virus within 15 seconds in most of the test cases. The lead study author Benjamin Ogilvie said, “Our results indicate that alcohol-free hand sanitiser works just as well, so we could, maybe even should, be using it to control COVID.”
Ogilvie explained, alcohol-free hand sanitisers, which are also effective against the common cold and flu viruses, have a number of advantages over their alcohol-based counterparts.
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“Benzalkonium chloride can be used in much lower concentrations and does not cause the familiar ‘burn’ feeling you might know from using alcohol hand sanitiser. It can make life easier for people who have to sanitise hands a lot, like healthcare workers, and maybe even increase compliance with sanitizing guidelines,” he said.
In the face of shortages, Ph.D. student Antonio Solis Leal, who conducted the study’s experiments added, “having more options to disinfect hospitals and public places is critical.” Switching to alcohol-free hand sanitiser is logistically simple as well.