Q: "Our PTA is interested in buying hand sanitizer dispensers and hand sanitizer for children and adults to use as they enter the school cafeteria. Our hope is to reduce colds and flu among the school population. The sanitizers we are looking at are alcohol based. What are the advantages of foam versus gel? Are there other options?
Answer: The two sanitizers you asked about are high in alcohol. A New York Times article from 2006 focuses on hand sanitizers. The recommendation there was to get all sides of your hands wet with gel or foam, then rub them together until they dry. CDC guidelines for healthcare workers are that, if your hands dry within 10 to 15 seconds, you did not use enough. Studies cited in the NY Times recommend purchasing alcohol based hand sanitizers with 60% to 95% alcohol or running the risk of growing bacteria rather than killing bacteria and viruses.
Soap and water are still the best choice although many restrooms are set up so that you must grab the door handle to leave rather than pushing it open thus contaminating hands. We were impressed on a recent cruise by the wide availability of hand sanitizer dispensers at all restaurants, entrances to the ship, restrooms, etc. Also one pushed out on restroom doors or there was a doorway entrance that meant no door was needed.
Personally, I prefer the foam dispensers although the liquid is as effective and was used on the ship. Children are attracted to foam products and there is less likelihood of dripping. The most economical way to buy the sanitizer is in the 1000 ml bags or about 33.8140225589 ounces.
One other more expensive option is the alcohol free Handclens foamer hand sanitizer that comes in green apple and unscented versions. This sanitizer has benzalkonium chloride as the active ingredient.
The products we sell by Medline all have moisturizers or similar additives to keep hands from drying out.
Thank you for your question. We hope you are successful in your efforts especially with the H1N1 flu expected this fall. Most schools are asking children to bring sanitizer to school. The problem is that rarely is it available in school cafeterias in such a way that every child uses it before they eat.