Title: Assessment of Anti-Bacterial Effectiveness of Hand Sanitizers Commonly Used in South Africa

Author(s): Muleba, L., Van Wyk, R., Pienaar, J., Ratshikhopha, E., and Singh, T.

Source: Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2022, 19, 9245. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph19159245

Abstract: Hand sanitizers are used as an alternative to hand washing to reduce the number of viable microorganisms when soap and water are not readily available. This study aimed to investigate the anti-bacterial effectiveness of commercially available hand sanitizers and those commonly used in healthcare and community settings. A mapping exercise was done to select and procure different hand sanitizers (n = 18) from retailers. Five microorganisms implicated in hospital-acquired infections were selected and tested against each hand sanitizer: Escherichia coli, Enterococcus faecalis, Klebsiella pneumoniae, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, and Staphylococcus aureus. Twenty-one volunteers were recruited to do a handprint before and after applying the hand sanitizer. Only four out of eighteen hand sanitizers (22%) were effective against all tested bacterial species, and an equal number (22%) were completely ineffective. Seven hand sanitizers with a label claim of 99.99% were only effective against E. coli. Only five hand sanitizers (27%) effectively reduced bacteria on participants’ hands. This study showed that only a fifth of hand sanitizers were effective against selected microorganisms. The findings raise a concern about the effectiveness of hand sanitizers and their role in infection, prevention, and control if not well regulated.

Keywords: hand disinfectants; microorganisms; hospital-acquired infection; infection prevention and control; precautionary measures; hand hygiene