Send to

Choose Destination
Am J Infect Control. 2010 Nov;38(9):678-82. doi: 10.1016/j.ajic.2010.07.002.

Revisiting the hand wipe versus gel rub debate: is a higher-ethanol content hand wipe more effective than an ethanol gel rub?

Author information

Special Pathogens Laboratory, Pittsburgh, PA, USA.



The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's guidelines for hand hygiene state that the use of alcohol-based hand wipes is not an effective substitute for the use of an alcohol-based hand rub or handwashing with an antimicrobial soap and water. The objective of this study was to determine whether a hand wipe with higher ethanol content (65.9%) is as effective as an ethanol hand rub or antimicrobial soap in removing bacteria and spores from hands.


In two separate experiments, the hands of 7 subjects were inoculated with a suspension of Serratia marcescens or Geobacillus stearothermophilus. Subjects washed with each of 3 different products: 65.9% ethanol hand wipes (Sani-Hands ALC), 62% ethanol gel rub (Purell), and antimicrobial soap containing 0.75% triclosan (Kindest Kare).


A total of 56 observations were analyzed for S marcescens removal and 70 observations were analyzed for G stearothermophilus removal. The rank order of product efficacy for both bacteria and spore removal was antibacterial soap > 65.9% ethanol hand wipes >62% ethanol hand rub. Mean S marcescens log reductions (±SD) for the 65.9% ethanol alcohol wipe, 62% ethanol alcohol rub, and antimicrobial foam soap were 3.44 ± 0.847, 2.32 ± 1.065, and 4.44 ± 1.018, respectively (P < .001). Mean G stearothermophilus log reductions for the 65.9% ethanol wipe, 62% ethanol rub, and antimicrobial foam soap were 0.51 ± 0.26, -0.8 ± 0.32 increase over baseline, and 1.72 ± 0.62, respectively (P < .001).


The alcohol-based hand wipe containing 65.9% ethanol was significantly more effective than the 62% ethanol rub in reducing the number of viable bacteria and spores on the hands.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Elsevier Science
Loading ...
Support Center