National center for infection control professionals, healthcare experts, manufacturers, distributors, suppliers and consumers focused on best practices in hand hygiene and hand sanitizer products

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Truth In Advertising: The Alcohol-Free Hand Sanitizer Marketing Wars

We're a big advocate of alcohol-free hand sanitizers. We're also a big advocate of truth in advertising and comparing products and prices.

We just noticed a massive PR campaign initiated by a product called Remi-D. The manufacturer has just initiated a massive PR campaign positioning its product as "all natural".

Its an alcohol-free product that uses benzalkonium chloride (BAC) as the active ingredient. Much like one of the leading products we've mentioned here before: "Soapopular". But Soapopular does not make outsized claims, and unlike almost every other competing non-alcohol product, Soapopular does not contain fragrances or dyes, which supports its claim i.e. hypoallergenic.

1. Remi-D is NOT "all natural". Yes, it contains organic compounds..but these aren't elements that grow on they are not, in the definition of "all naturual", all natural. 1. Below are the ingredients:
Benzalkonium Chloride
Dihydroxypropyl PEG -5Linoleammonium Chloride
Glycereth-2 Cocoate
Behentrimonium Chloride

2. Yes, its a heckuva lot better and safer to the skin when compared to alcohol products i.e. Purell.
3. There are OTHER ALCOHOL FREE PRODUCTS that don't (falsely) claim to be "ALL NATURAL", but do contain the same active ingredient benzalkonium chloride (BAC). The latter is fine..BAC is considered the safest organic compound, and we prefer this active ingredient. Organic compound in the scientific sense, not the 'tree hugger' sense. But this ingredient is a widely-recognized antiseptic, and its been used for decades in a variety of health care products, including Bactine antiseptic and J&J Foaming Antiseptic.

Its proven to be effective against a broad spectrum of germs, bacteria and viruses. And it can be applied to cuts and scrapes. Not something that you would do with Purell.

We're making these points simply because we take exception to false claims. This isn't to say that Remi-D. doesn't kill germs, and that it isn't better than Purell. It is. We just raise our eyebrows when manufacturers are compelled to push the envelope, and justify exorbitant prices based on claims that are not true. In this case, the terminology "all natural" is one that intoxicates consumers into parting with more of their hard-earned money. If its not all natural, then they shouldn't say it is.

3. Per above, an alternative product is called Soapopular. See the lower photo. Sooapopular does not make false or exaggerated claims, and it uses BAC as the active also, but its fragrance free and dye free, which supports the manufacturer's claim that its not only antiseptic, but that its hypoallergenic. Visit for details.

Of greatest importance, you'll find that the Soapopular product is 1/2 the price of Remi-D. 1/2 the price. Shall I say again? OK.. Soapopular is half the price of Remi-D.

Soapopular has also been endorsed by Parents Magazine, Oxygen Magazine, Lucky Magazine and has been implemented in 250+ schools in the US and 500+ schools in Canada. This is also a fact. We've seen their Purchase Order and Sales Lists.

4. There's also a distinction, however tiny, between saying something is 99.99% effective and 99.9% effective. The distinction comes down to the number of seconds that it takes for the formula to kill the pathogens. And the number of seconds between 99.99 and 99.9 is actually inconsequential, but the 99.99 number sounds better. Is a marketing tactic. But it also needs to be substantiated. Remi-D makes the former claim, but there is no documentation on their website that supports that claim.

4a. Remi-D claims that its product is available in all CVS stores, and many other retailers. It is NOT available in all CVS stores, although it is available in a select number of locations on a "trial basis". We checked.

Soapopular, on the other hand, is the only hand sanitizer product available at, and its's most popular product in the category. Its also available in 2000+ retail stores throughout the US, and is marketed and distributed throughout Europe, select parts of Asia, South America and portions of the Middle East.

5. If we had a choice, we'd wash with soap and water. But we don't always have the ability to wash with soap and water, so when making a choice between hand sanitizers--be concerned about outsized claims and outsized prices.

Putting a fragrance or a dye into a hand sanitizer is a potentially dangerous thing to do for those that have low immune systems or those that are prone to allergic reactions. That's a fact.

Spending 2x the amount of money for an alcohol-free hand sanitizer product that provides the exact same germ/bacteria/virus killing ability and protection vs. a competing product that uses the same active ingredient, simply because the more expensive brand is falsely claiming to be "all natural" is a complete waste of money. That's also a fact.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

2 Leading Canadian Hospitals Migrate to Alcohol-Free Hand Sanitizers

For those not already aware, the topic of hand hygiene in hospitals is one of the health care industry's most prevalent issues.

For the less informed, beginning in the late 1990's, HCW's deferred to a 50-page "white paper" published by the US Centers For Disease Control. Positioned as a 'recommendation guideline', the 1996 report promoted the use of frequent hand washing, and when not convenient, the report "recommended" that hand sanitizers (at the time, only alcohol based gels were the sole option), were an important adjunct to stemming the spread of easily transmitted pathogens.

That report has since been widely read and disseminated, even if the sections that cautioned against alcohol-based gels have not been.

And over the years, HCW's complaints about the adverse effects of alcohol on the skin have experienced triple digit increases, year after year.

But the vast majority of hospital administrators in both the US and Canada have remained resilient and refused to consider more recent studies profiling alternative hand sanitizer formulas, and specifically, the benefits and advantages of benzalkonium chloride and related 'quats'. Notwithstanding these newer formulas are equally effacious, non-irritating, non-drying, non-flammable and non-toxic. And, they don't destroy the industrial floor wax when inadvertently dripped onto hospital hallway floors.

Flash forward to 2008. In both the US and Canada, schools, government facilities, military bases, extended care facilities, licensed day care facilities, correctional institutions, and corporate venues have been systematically banning alcohol-based hand sanitizers, and embracing BAC-based products.

But the vast majority of traditional hospitals, the most notorious feeding ground for pathogens have remained otherwise stallwart. The rationale has been "...the CDC recommends ..." But the real fact is that CDC says they don't recommend anything other than washing with soap and water and spokespeople for that agency say the document in question is outdated.

Step in to 2009. In addition to the corporate HQ of the Ontario Hospital Association, two of Canada's most prominent hospitals, North Bay General (Ontario) and Vancouver General Hospital, British Columbia's largest hospital, have recently announced they've burned up the outdated recommendations along with their flammable hand sanitizer dispensers, and both have migrated to an alcohol-free, fragrance free, and dye free hand sanitizer formula manufactured and distributed by Toronto-based Soapopular Inc.

We clap our hands in honor of their responsible, pragmatic and practical approach to proper hand hygiene protocols. And congrats to the Soapopular team in Toronto and their US partners for remaining focused, persistent and for delivering a product that is not only safer to the hands, but is proven to be 2x-3x more cost effective when compared to any alcohol gel product!

Friday, February 13, 2009

Global Movement Away From Alcohol Hand Sanitizers and To Alcohol-Free Alternatives

We just noticed an Indonesia-based blog, whose author has apparently come to similar conclusions as this blog i.e. "Why would you put an alcohol hand sanitizer in your hands when benzalkonium chloride based products are safer to the skin and provide greater efficacy.."

here's just one extract from an extensive presentation...

"...efficacy that is sometimes overlooked is the effect of repeated use. The efficacy of alcohol as a hand disinfectant has been shown to decrease after repeated use, probably due to progressive adverse skin reactions, whereas the efficacy of an alcohol-free hand sanitizer based on Benzalkonium Chloride as its active ingredient has been shown to increase with repeated use...."

As the CDC says..."we recommend doing your own research on the topic..."

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Child Injured After Teacher Instructs To "Wash With Alcohol Sanitizer"

We couldn't make up stories like these..

Per the link, an Austin TX school teacher demands that her 12 year old student "wash her hands" with an alcohol hand sanitizer, and when the moronic teacher realizes that the alcohol does not clean dirt from the hands, she instructs her student to use a abrasive cleaner.

What a surprise that the 12 year old child was subsequently treated for skin burns at a local hospital.

We love school teachers...those that are actually educated themselves. Aside from this truly frightening example of ineptitude, is the truly frightening number of people that actually believe that alcohol hand sanitizers clean the hands.

We remain strong advocates of washing with appropriate soap and water, and when a sink isn't available, those that opt for hand sanitizer products for the purpose of killing germs/bacteria and viruses should be using non-alcohol, rinse free products. Two such brands are profiled at SoapyUSA