Hand sanitiser in schools

Is your school prepared with hand sanitiser stations?

Many schools in order to provide a safe environment for children and staff to return following the COVID-19 lockdown will need to provide ample sanitisation equipment to reduce the risk of viruses and bacteria spreading. Sanitiser stations have proven benefits and now will become an essential part of everyday life for the school, whether in the dining areas, playground, reception and classroom. Find out more below on the science behind using sanitiser stations.

What are the facts regarding hand sanitisers in schools?

In a study where 16 schools and a total of 6000 students used 70% alcohol hand sanitiser when entering and exiting the classroom. Absenteeism due to infections was reduced by 19.8% when compared with the control schools that didn’t use any (Hammond et al., 2000). If that wasn't reason enough and proof of the health benefits to staff and pupils in the school, the study was carried out prior to any known coronaviruses having the level of lethality and transmission rate of the recent covid-19 pandemic.

How do hand sanitisers compare to washing hands?

Comparing the effect of hand sanitiser vs hand washing on illness related absences in schools found that there was no significant difference. However, this was followed up with a focus group that reported a preference of using hand sanitiser over hand washing. For obvious reasons, getting children to adequately washing their hands between classes, play or lunch times is difficult. Hand sanitiser stations therefore offer appropriate alternative benefits over washing or at the very least additional resources to ensure children and staff can be safer throughout the day from the spread of viruses. The ease of user combined enables user preference for children and staff to clean their hands while minimizing the impact on their learning or break time. (Vessey et al., 2007).

Are abscences really caused by viruses and poor sanitisation?

In short, yes! The major contributor to missing school at the elementary level is illness caused by pathogens, and 83% of teachers report that this is the biggest problem they face within their schools (Carnegie Foundation for Education, 1990). While complex training and reinforcing procedures are necessary and can instate good hand washing skills in children, these behaviours are hard to maintain over time (Day, Arnaud and Monsma, 1993). This is where simple hand sanitiser stations available to all can have a dramatic impact on cleanliness. They're easy to use provide more access to sanitisation where limited toilet facilities cannot facilitate large numbers of people en masse attempting to fulfill the need for clean hands throughout the day.

Is hand sanitiser a satisfactory alternative to washing hands?

In 2009, the World Health Organization (WHO) recommended use of sanitiser in place of traditional soap and water in their Guidelines on Hand Hygiene in Health Care (2009). No only was it found that hand sanitiser as a solution was better when compared directly with washing hands with soap and water. In the study Kramer et al (2002) they found the method of delivery was important in the effectiveness of hand sanitiser.

Should I use gel or liquid hand sanitiser?

An intefresting by-product of the above study found that gels were seen to be less effective than liquids. So, when considering what to use in your automatic hand sanitisers, consider that a liquid hand sanitiser is more effective for cleanliness than gel. In our experience it also creates less mess and build up if the unit is not used effectively by all users. 

What is hand sanitiser?

Hand sanitizers contain between 60%–95% ethanol or isopropyl alcohol by volume, and are often mixed with scents that can be appealing to young children (Santos et al., 2017). For this reason, there are several reports into the consequences of young children ingesting these hand sanitising products (Mrvos and Krenselok, 2009; Miller, Borys and Morgan, 2009; Rayar and Ratnapalan, 2013)

Sanitisers with a concentration about 60% have been shown to be more effective at killing germs than any others with a lower alcoholic concentration or even non-alcoholic versions (Kampf and Kramer, 2004).

We're always talking about about why it's made of the ingrediants it is. One of the best explantions of why this is found here and we've included an extract below, as we really couldn't explain it any better.

“Consumer alcohol-based hand sanitizers, and health care "hand alcohol" or "alcohol hand antiseptic agents" exist in liquid, foam, and easy-flowing gel formulations. Products with 60% to 95% alcohol by volume are effective antiseptics. Lower or higher concentrations are less effective; most products contain between 60% and 80% alcohol.[71]  Alcohols such ethanol and isopropanol, sometimes combined with quaternary ammonium cations (quats) such as benzalkonium chloride. Quats are added at levels up to 200 parts per million to increase antimicrobial effectiveness. In addition to alcohol (ethanol, isopropanol or n-Propanol), hand sanitizers also contain the following:[71]

  • additional antiseptics such as chlorhexidine and quaternary ammonium derivatives
  • sporicides such as hydrogen peroxides that eliminate bacterial spores that may be present in ingredients
  • emollients and gelling agents to reduce skin dryness and irritation
  • a small amount of sterile or distilled water
  • sometimes foaming agents, colorants or fragrances.

We hope the information here about hand sanitisers for schools has been helpful. For more information about hand sanitisers for schools, why not get in touch or visit our sanitiser stations page for more information.

To find out more about the various research journals which helped compile the information above, click the glossary links below:

Kampf G, Kramer A. Epidemiologic background of hand hygiene and evaluation of the most important agents for scrubs and rubs.external icon Clin Microbiol Rev. 2004 Oct;17(4):863-93.

Rayar P, Ratnapalan S. Pediatric ingestions of house hold products containing ethanol: a review. Clin Pediatr (Phila) 2013;52:203–9. 

Miller M, Borys D, Morgan D. Alcohol-based hand sanitizers and unintended pediatric exposures: a retrospective review. Clin Pediatr (Phila) 2009

Mrvos R, Krenzelok EP. Pediatric ingestions of hand sanitizers: debunking the myth. Pediatr Emerg Care 2009;25:665–6. 

Santos, C., Kieszak, S., Wang, A., Law, R., Schier, J. and Wolkin, A., 2017. Reported Adverse Health Effects in Children from Ingestion of Alcohol-Based Hand Sanitizers — United States, 2011–2014. MMWR. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, 66(8), pp.223-226.

A. Kramer, P. Rudolph, G. Kampf, D.Pittet. Limited efficacy of alcohol-based hand gels. Lancet, 359 (2002), pp. 1489-1490

World Health Organization. Guidelines on hand hygiene in health care, 2009. 

Vessey JA, Sherwood JJ, Warner D, Clark D. Comparing hand washing to hand sanitizers in reducing elementary school students' absenteeism. Pediatric Nursing. 2007 Jul-Aug;33(4):368-372.

Day, R., Arnaud, S. and Monsma, M., 1993. Effectiveness of a Handwashing Program. Clinical Nursing Research, 2(1), pp.24-40.

Hammond, B., Ali, Y., Fendler, E., Dolan, M. and Donovan, S., 2000. Effect of hand sanitizer use on elementary school absenteeism. American Journal of Infection Control, 28(5), pp.340-346.

The Carnegie Foundation for Education, The Foundation, New York(1990)