Unlike hand washing with soap and water, hand sanitisers are designed to cleanse hands of potentially damaging bacteria, rather than mainly dirt and detritus. Hand sanitizer dispensers deliver gel. foam or liquid solutions in which the active ingredients include isopropanol, ethanol, n-propanol and povidoneodine. These alcohol bases are then added to a host of non-active ingredients such as plant oils, thickening agents and scent enhancers.
The alcohol base is the key for keeping your hands clean, killing 99.9% of bacteria, fungi and some viruses within 30 seconds of application. As such, the dispensers are considered antiseptic device that can be used to avoid the transmission of pathogens, and are installed in hospitals to reduce the change of spreading infectious diseases like tuberculosis. Less common, non-alcohol-based hand sanitisers use other active agents, such as the biocide benzalkonium chloride and the organic compound triclosan, to kill germs.