SafeHands Points to the Dangers of Alcohol-Based Hand Sanitizers

BOCA RATON, Fla. – SafeHands is continuing its mission to educate the public about the dangers of alcohol-based instant hand sanitizers and is endeavoring to make alcohol-free instant hand sanitizers a widely accepted practice in hand hygiene when being near a sink is neither possible nor convenient.

SafeHands®, an alcohol-free instant hand sanitizer, is a solution for those who have experienced the serious side effects of the repeated use of alcohol-based sanitizers. Among those side effects are “dry, cracked, frequently painful skin that has been stripped of its natural oils,” noted Jay Reubens, founder, chairman and CEO of SafeHands, Inc., who has become an authority on hand hygiene products and behavioral modification education/training. “Worse yet, alcohol-based products can actually increase the risk of exposure to the same pathogens that they were designed to kill. Germs can get trapped in the crevices of dry skin and increase the potential risk of cross-contamination. Therefore, repeated daily use of alcohol-based hand sanitizers is a threat to public safety.”

Reubens was a practicing dentist earlier in his career. Daily concerns about cross contamination led to his development of UltraClenz®, the world’s first touch-free handwash dispenser, and his extensive research, subsequent development and comprehensive testing of SafeHands, the first alcohol-free instant hand sanitizer for multiple daily use to be marketed nationally to the food service and healthcare markets. Reubens said that workers in these industries in particular are imperiled because many germs spread through hand-to-hand contact. And, though workers must follow the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)’s guidelines that require frequent handwashing or use of away-from-the-sink alcohol-based hand sanitizers throughout the day, the degree of compliance is unknown. “Using alcohol–based products can trigger a resistance and aversion to proper hygiene,” Reubens said. “Who wants to keep using a product that is not only painful, but can also destroy the same skin cells intended to defend against pathogens?”

According to Reubens, the paradigm shift from alcohol-based to alcohol-free instant hand sanitizers mirrors a similar shift that occurred in the 1980s when non-latex gloves were introduced as a solution for workers who had sensitivities to latex. “The domestic and global marketplace needs and is accepting an alternative type of instant hand sanitizer – one without alcohol that has proven to spare the hands from damage and has even greater germ-kill efficacy,” Reubens says. 

Alcohol-based instant hand sanitizers can ignite easily, are intoxicating or poisonous if ingested by children, are destructive to floors and other surfaces, and consequently are being systematically banned by schools, licensed day care centers, universities, prisons, government agencies, extended healthcare facilities and elsewhere. The Florida Department of Education’s ban on these products in public schools is an example.

“The spread of everything from food-borne salmonella to the superbug MRSA can be mitigated, if not by proper handwashing then by the repeated use of instant hand sanitizers,” Reubens says. “However, because proprietary formulations such as SafeHands are made without alcohol, they are safer and far more user friendly (they soothe rather than irritate the skin). We believe we make a strong case that hand sanitizers with no alcohol should replace the old standard that calls for a concentration of 60 percent to 95 percent alcohol as an ingredient, or at minimum be offered as an alternative.”

The SafeHands Institute™ is the education and training division of the company      targeting behavioral modification programs for day care, schools, food service and healthcare.  “Changing behaviors is one of the most difficult challenges in seeking optimal hand-sanitizing compliance. SafeHands has formulated a product with intrinsic benefits that motivate changes in behavior. Because it is so gentle and softening to the skin, people enjoy using our product frequently throughout the day,” Reubens says. 

Non-toxic, nonflammable SafeHands Alcohol-Free Instant Hand Sanitizer is a liquid dispensed as foam made with FDA-approved benzalkonium chloride that has been scientifically tested and proven superior to alcohol-based products in germ killing, as well as being non-drying and skin smoothing. Independent in vitro testing and in vivo studies at a major U.S. university show that SafeHands kills 99.99 percent of germs and fungi in 30 seconds, including MRSA, VRE, Clostridium difficile, TB, E. coli, Salmonella, HIV, and hepatitis A and B.

SafeHands was launched nationally in October 2007 and expanded into international markets in January 2009.