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Researchers Study Which Alcohol Hand Rub Dries Fastest

Study compares liquid, gel and foam forms of isopropanol and ethanol formulations.

Published: October 5, 2017

SKIN IN THE GAME Provide staff with hand hygiene options that work effectively and efficiently.

Your surgical team wants to disinfect their hands with a product that works — and works fast. A new study suggests liquid and foam hand rubs containing ethanol (EtOH) alcohol fit the bill.

The study compared the antibacterial efficacy of 60% isopropanol (IPA) and 80% EtOH in liquid, gel and foam formats. Researchers applied 1.5 ml and 3 ml of the formulations to the hands of 15 volunteers, who indicated when their hands felt dry and rated how long the drying took: too short, OK or too long.

  • The gel forms of 60% IPA took an average of 47.3 seconds to dry, the foam forms 36.1 seconds and liquid forms 36.6 seconds.
  • The gel forms of 80% EtOH dried in 35.6 seconds, the foam forms in 27.6 seconds and the liquids form in 29.6 seconds.

There was no difference in efficacy among the formulations, according to the study, and the EtOH formulations dried quicker than the IPA formulations. Gels took longer to dry than liquid or foam applications, a finding that generally agreed with the volunteers' perceptions of drying times.

Given that there was no difference in the effectiveness between the formulations and only a marginal difference in dry times, researchers say IPA and EtOH formulations in liquid, foam or gel form are fine, provided that they meet safety standards.

Daniel Cook

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