Liquid, gel or foam — Which is the most effective form of alcohol-based hand rubs?

A study, published in the Journal of Hospital Infection, examined if there is any difference in efficacy between hand rubs containing alcohols that are in liquid, gel or foam form.

The researchers focused on alcohol-based hand rubs containing isopropanol or ethanol. To determine efficacy, they conducted European Standard EN 1500 tests with 20 volunteers. They performed an EN 1500 test for each 3 ml formulation of the liquid, gel or foam hand rubs. To determine drying time, researchers tested 1.5 and 3.0 ml of the three formulations on 15 volunteers. Volunteers self-reported when their hands were dry.

The study shows no difference in antibacterial efficacy between the three formulations. However, ethanol-based hand rubs tended to dry faster than isopropanol-based rubs. For both types of rubs, gels took longer to dry than other formulations.

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