PURELL® Instant Hand Sanitizer

Frequently Asked Questions

 

What is PURELL?

PURELL is a refreshing instant hand sanitizer that kills 99.99% of most common germs that may cause disease and is used without soap, water or towels.

What is the active ingredient in PURELL?

The active ingredient in PURELL is ethyl alcohol - sometimes referred to as "mother nature's disinfectant." Ethyl alcohol is classified by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as a Category I active ingredient, which means it's generally recognized as safe and effective when used as directed.

Does alcohol really work?

Yes. The FDA's Tentative Final Monograph cites ethyl alcohol, the active ingredient in PURELL, as safe and effective.

How does alcohol work?

Alcohol works by denaturing proteins.

Isn't alcohol drying to the skin?

Clinical studies have shown that a properly formulated alcohol-based hand sanitizer with emollients (PURELL) is actually better tolerated than soap-and-water hand washing - not drying and irritating.

Is PURELL a substitute for handwashing?

Yes, but not when hands are visibly soiled. PURELL is a great way to kill germs, but will not remove dirt, grease or grime off hands.

Is PURELL a soap?

No. PURELL is an instant hand sanitizer designed to kill germs on the hands when you don't have access to soap and water. PURELL can also be used after handwashing as a supplement to kill germs that may remain after soap and water hand washing.

How do I use PURELL?

Place enough product in your palm to thoroughly cover your hands. Be sure to sanitize the front and backs of your hands, as well as between your fingers and under your nails. Rub hands together briskly until dry. No rinsing required. No towels needed.

When should PURELL be used?

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), alcohol-based hand sanitizers can be used when hands are not visibly soiled. If hands are visibly soiled, use soap and water.

Does PURELL leave a residue?

No. PURELL leaves no harmful residue. Hands are left feeling soft and refreshed. A small bit of emollient (skin conditioning agent) is left on the hands after use.

Is there any alcohol left on the hands?

No. Once your hands are dry, all the alcohol has evaporated.

Where do the bubbles go?

They rise to the top of PURELL. PURELL without bubbles is equally effective.

How long after I use PURELL does it kill germs?

PURELL has no residual germ-killing effect. PURELL kills germs on contact, but once it has evaporated, the germ-killing action has stopped.

How much PURELL should I use?

Use enough PURELL to completely cover your hands.

Can PURELL be used between handwashing?

Yes. PURELL is a sanitizer, not a cleaner; meaning that it will kill germs, but will not remove dirt, grease or grime off hands.

How many times can PURELL be used before washing hands?

PURELL can be used whenever hands are not visibly soiled. It can be used repeatedly, and there is no need to wash your hands between uses unless they become visibly soiled. Additionally, there is no harmful residue left on hands after use.

What happens to the germs?

The alcohol in PURELL denatures (inactivates) bacterial proteins and disrupts the integrity of the cell wall resulting in rupture of the cell and death.

Does using alcohol-based hand sanitizers create “super germs” (germs resistant to anti-bacterials)?

No, this is a misperception. Using alcohol-based hand sanitizer does not create super bugs or contribute to the spread of antibiotic resistant bacteria, as the overuse of antibiotics does. The active ingredient in most hand sanitizers is ethyl alcohol which acts in a completely different manner than antibiotics. Alcohol kills germs within seconds by physically destroying the cell membrane and denaturing proteins within the bacteria. Because of the rapidness of the killing and the physical nature by which it acts, there is no mechanism by which the germs can become resistant to it. Furthermore, because alcohol evaporates from the hands within seconds the bacteria are never exposed to low levels of alcohol so there is no opportunity for adaptation to it. According to the National Institutes of Health, the best strategy for combating the spread of drug-resistant bacteria is for everyone to keep their hands clean.

Do alcohol-based hand sanitizers kill the good germs (germs that live naturally in your skin) on my hands as well as the bad germs (germs you pick up that may make you sick)?

No. Alcohol-based hand sanitizers kill the “bad germs” very effectively. These are also referred to as transient microflora and are germs your hands pick up when they touch your surroundings. They are located on the outer surface of the skin and are easily killed by the alcohol in hand sanitizers. However, alcohol-based hand sanitizers have minimal effects on the good germs or “resident microflora.” This is because the good germs live within the various layers of the skin and within pores and hair follicles and they are not accessible to the alcohol.

Does using alcohol-based hand sanitizer create resistant bacteria?

No. Using alcohol-based hand sanitizer does not contribute to the spread of antibiotic resistant bacteria, as the overuse of antibiotics does. The active ingredient in most hand sanitizers is ethyl alcohol which acts in a completely different manner than antibiotics. Alcohol kills germs within seconds by physically destroying the cell membrane and denaturing proteins within the bacteria. Because of the rapidness of the killing and the physical nature by which it acts, there is no mechanism by which the germs can become resistant to it. Furthermore, because alcohol evaporates from the hands within seconds the bacteria are never exposed to low levels of alcohol so there is no opportunity for adaptation to it. According to the National Institutes of Health, the best strategy for combating the spread of drug-resistant bacteria is for everyone to keep their hands clean.

Does PURELL contribute to antimicrobial resistance?

No. Because alcohol evaporates completely, there is no alcohol left behind to promote adaptation. Alcohol has been used in healthcare for over 100 years with no adverse effects. There is no evidence that microorganisms adapt or become resistant to PURELL.

How is the use of alcohol regulated?

Alcohol-based hand sanitizers, such as PURELL, are regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The FDA Tentative Final Monograph1 contains rules for each class of products and describes acceptable active ingredients, doses, formulations, claims and labeling requirements for hand antiseptics.

1 Tentative Final Monograph for Over-the-Counter (OTC) Healthcare Antiseptic Drug Products; June 17, 1994 (59 FR 31402)

Explain in vivo, in vitro, log reduction

An in vivo test is a controlled test conducted on the skin of human beings. An in vitro test is a test conducted in a laboratory, using glass test tubes or Petri dishes. Log reduction means the amount of organisms killed using a logarithmic scale.

What is the expiration of the product?

Generally the expiration date is printed on the bottom or back of the package. If there is no expiration date printed on the package, the product is good for 3 years from the date of manufacture.

What about flammability?

There is no evidence to suggest that PURELL poses a fire hazard when used according to package directions and warnings. Find out more >

What about reports of ingestion of alcohol-based hand sanitizers?

PURELL Instant Hand Sanitizer is safe and effective when used as directed. To discourage misuse by ingestion, PURELL contains ingredients that impart an unpleasant taste, making it undesirable to drink. Find out more >

Is PURELL kosher?

PURELL Instant Hand Sanitizer and PURELL E-3 Rated Instant Hand Sanitizer are Kosher and Pareve certified.

Is PURELL cruelty free?

PURELL does not contain any animal products or by-products.

How did PURELL get started?

PURELL has been the leading instant hand sanitizer in healthcare and foodservice for over ten years. Because of the high demand for PURELL among professionals using it at work, GOJO introduced the product to the consumer market in 1996.

Can anyone at GOJO help me with an efficacy question?

GOJO technical personnel know the science of hand hygiene, monitor the latest research affecting the category and work with global thought leaders, so they may respond to your questions. To contact GOJO technical personnel, call 800-321-9647 and mention that you have a question about efficacy.

 

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Did You Know

PURELL® Instant Hand Sanitizer kills 99.99% of most common germs that may cause illness.

Download pdf (160 KB) of PURELL fact sheet.  

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