What should I look for in a hand sanitiser?
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Washington: What should I look for in a hand sanitiser? Pick one that contains mostly alcohol, and has few other ingredients. The US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention says hand sanitisers should be at least 60 per cent ethyl alcohol or 70 per cent isopropyl alcohol. Other approved ingredients may include sterile distilled water, hydrogen peroxide and glycerin, according to the US Food and Drug Administration.

You should avoid anything with methanol or 1-propanol, both of which can be highly toxic. The FDA also warns people to watch out for hand sanitisers packaged in food and drink containers, since accidentally ingesting them could be dangerous.

Health officials also say to avoid hand sanitisers that replace alcohol with benzalkonium chloride, which is less effective at killing certain bacteria and viruses. Making your own sanitisers isn't encouraged either; the wrong mix of chemicals can be ineffective or cause skin burns.

And you should only use hand sanitiser when you can't wash your hands with soap and water, says Barun Mathema, an infectious disease researcher at Columbia University. Hand washing is better at removing more germs.

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