Hand sanitizer is a liquid, gel, or foam generally used to decrease infectious agents on the hands. Formulations of the alcohol-based type are preferable to hand washing with soap and water in most situations in the healthcare setting. It is generally more effective at killing microorganisms and better tolerated than soap and water. Hand washing should still be carried out if contamination can be seen or following the use of the toilet. The general use of non-alcohol based versions has no recommendations. Outside the health care setting, hand washing is generally preferred. They are also less effective for microorganisms norovirus, and Clostridium difficile.
Alcohol-based versions typically contain some combination of isopropyl alcohol, ethanol (ethyl alcohol), or n-propanol. Versions that contain 60 to 95% alcohol are most effective. Care should be taken as they are flammable.