The world has been using hand sanitizer for over 40 years now, and its demand has only increased. Presently, it’s a great tool in the fight against infectious diseases and paranoia.
Due to the fact that most viruses are spread through human contact, keeping hands clean and germ-free has become a priority for all of us. Having a convenient, gel-based sanitizer in our pocket has become the most efficient and practical way to carry a disinfectant that can be used at any moment.

So, how did this invention come about? And how can you make your own? Let’s find out. 

What Is A Hand Sanitizer?

As per Wikipedia, hand sanitizer “is a liquid or gel generally used to decrease infectious agents on the hands”. Often used in healthcare settings, sanitizer is a preferred method of decontamination in the absence of water and soap. Made with isopropyl alcohol and aloe vera to give it the gel-like consistency, a sanitizer has been considered by many to be a viable alternative to hand washing.

When Was It First Discovered?

The first major discovery of a non-water, cleansing agent was made in the year 1875 when Leonid Bucolz allegedly discovered that ethanol has antiseptic properties. It made rounds in the scientific literature community since it was the first of its kind. There was some evidence that brandy was used as a medical disinfectant but ethanol as a disinfecting agent took some time to be considered legitimate.

In 1988, “Purrell” arrived in the market and instantly became a household name. The genius of it was that the inventors added a thickening agent called “acrylates” to give it a better consistency which meant that a coin sized amount was enough to do the job. It put the German based “Sterillium” invented in 1965 out of business since in comparison to Purrell, it was harsh on the hands and kind of messy.

Where Is It Used, Mainly?

The use of a sanitizer, initially, was reserved mainly for industries where the chances of coming into contact with germs and bacteria were higher. This included healthcare and the food industry. So, basically for all the doctors, nurses and chefs, using a sanitizer is a part of their routine.

Companies like Purrell made hand sanitizers a household necessity by advertising it as an alternative to soap and water. With the growth in commercial use, sanitizers became more economical and convenient for everyday use.

Why Has Sanitizer Become So Popular?

The major reason is convenience. The ease of carrying hygiene in your pocket makes sanitizer a popular choice for everybody, especially those who are concerned about their health and hygiene.

How Can A Simple Sanitizer Be Made At Home?

If your local pharmacy or grocery store is running low on sanitizers, here’s a quick guide to how you can make it at home without spending a lot.

The Gel Recipe:


  • Isopropyl alcohol or rubbing alcohol
  • Aloe vera gel
  • Essential oil (we recommend tea tree)
  • Mix 3 parts isopropyl alcohol to 1 part aloe vera gel. Add a few drops of essential oil for added fragrance. 
  • Pour it in a bottle for easy use.

PS: Since this is a DIY recipe, it won’t be as effective as an industrial-strength sanitizer.

How To Use A Hand Sanitizer Effectively?

Since sanitizers are gel based, you have to take a small amount and rub it in your palms till they’re dry. If your hands are greasy or dirty, it’s best to wash them first and then use a sanitizer for maximum effectiveness.

Here are a few tips on how best we can use sanitizers:

  • Spray or apply a coin sized amount to the palm of your hand.
  • Rub your hands together, thoroughly in a way that covers the entire area of your hand, including the back of your fingers and wrist.
  • Continue rubbing for a minute at least, till your hands are dry. For many sanitizers, it takes 60 seconds for it to kill most of the germs.

Hand sanitizers as a convenient solution work very well.  However, it is important to note that their continued use, as a way of eliminating germs and diseases, may not be beneficial in the long term. The CDC  recommends that sanitizers should not be used as an alternative to soap or water when hands are especially dirty or greasy, as bacteria can cling in the folds of skin.

To get accurate information, it’s always best to consult a doctor. You could use TABIIB to book an appointment online and get instant confirmations. Click here to know more.

I am a writer, covering the sprawling expanse of healthcare, among many other things that I love writing on. I write on healthcare because I want to do my part in informing people about the health industry, When I am not blogging about research and medicine, I enjoy reading, playing squash and backpacking around the world.