Purell might be sold out, but you can shop these alternatives instead.

By Braelyn Wood
Updated April 23, 2020
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You’ve been hearing it since childhood, but we’ll say it again for the people in the back: Keeping your hands clean is the easiest way to prevent sickness and stop the spread of germs. It’s not just a statement beloved by moms and kindergarten teachers, but a fact shared by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

While a thorough scrub-down with soap and water is the most effective way to clean your hands—it’s the best cleansing method for removing germs like norovirus, Cryptosporidium, and Clostridium difficile, according to the CDC—you won’t always have access to a sink. And even if a sink is nearby, washing your hands after every single exposure to a dirty surface (so, basically every second) can start to feel like an obsessive, time-sucking venture. Instead, it’s worth trying an alcohol-based hand sanitizer. 

Multiple studies have found that using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer in a water-constrained environment can be just as effective as handwashing with soap, if not more. Plus, with 97% of people improperly washing their hands, it’s no surprise that incorporating hand sanitizer into your hygiene routine can actually lead to less sick days, as researchers found in a 2018 study published in the Pediatrics journal.

To ensure you’re getting the most out of your hand sanitizer, the CDC recommends using a formula with 60% to 95% alcohol concentration. This high concentration is critical because alcohol acts as a “denaturing agent” that kills or inactivates viruses, as Pritish K. Tosh, MD, a Mayo Clinic infectious disease physician and researcher, previously told Health

To help you find the best sanitizers that meet CDC requirements, we collected the top picks available to shop online right now. Unfortunately, traditional options like GermX and Purell are limited due to the ongoing novel coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. But the good news is that there are still plenty of top-rated hand sanitizing products available to stock up on now so you can stay as healthy as possible. Here are the best hand sanitizers: 

1. Best Scent: Megababe Squeaky Clean Hand Sanitizer 

Mega Babe Beauty

Unlike many other hand sanitizers on the market, Megababe’s plant-based option smells like calming bergamont and citrus peel rather than alcohol. Every spritz delivers a 60% alcohol concentration to kill fungus, germs, and microbes without leaving your skin with a sticky residue. You’ll also love that the vegan formula doesn’t dry out skin and boasts nourishing ingredients like marula oil, sweet almond oil, and aloe vera. It’s available in both a small 2-ounce container or 16-ounce pump container.

Available at megababe.com, $6

2. Best Spray: Orly Hand Sanitizer Spray

ORLY

This sanitizer’s streamlined formula skips fragrances and oils in favor of efficiency. The spray-on formula has just 4 ingredients—hydrogen peroxide, glycerin, purified water, and 75% isopropyl alcohol—to keep your hands clean when soap and water just aren’t an option. Your purchase also gives back; each 4-pack sold is matched with a donation of one bottle to the city of Los Angeles, and that’s in addition to the 10,000 units Orly has already donated.

Available at orly.com, 4 for $24

3. Best Sustainable: by Humankind Hand Sanitizer

Humankind

Wellness brand by Humankind is all about promoting a more sustainable lifestyle, and its latest launch is no exception. Its ethically-made hand sanitizer—available in grapefruit or unscented formulas—boasts a 65% alcohol concentration and hyaluronic acid, an anti-aging ingredient that helps skin hold water. In an effort to reduce waste, the brand’s 8-ounce bottle is made from aluminum and holds enough product to refill a pocket-sized bottle 4 times. Plus, $1 from every hand sanitizer sold is donated to The Robin Hood Relief fund in New York City.

Available at byhumandkind.com, $20

4. Best Multipack: Suave Hand Sanitizer Spray

Amazon

Never leave the house empty-handed again thanks to this multipack of 6 travel-sized hand sanitizers. The bottle’s spray nozzle evenly spritzes the fast-drying formula (made with 65% ethyl alcohol) across your hands to kill 99.9% of germs and bacteria. 

Available at amazon.com, 6 for $27

5. Best Scent: Vegamour Hand Sanitizer Spray

VEGAMOUR

Vegamour’s plant-based option smells like calming lavender and citrus peel, and it delivers a 75% alcohol concentration in every spray. The vegan ingredients won’t dry out hands thanks to skin-friendly agents like marula oil and aloe vera. 

Available at vegamour.com, $16

6. Best with Aloe: The Citizen Supply Co. Hand Sanitizer Gel

Amazon

Florida-based brand The Citizen Supply Co. launched earlier this year to help its local community stay employed during the crisis while also meeting the demand for medical-grade masks and hand sanitizer. Its hydrating hand sanitizer is aloe vera-based to combat the drying effects of alcohol by returning moisture to the skin. Your hands will be so soft post-treatment, you won’t even realize the sanitizer has a 70% alcohol concentration. 

Available at amazon.com, 4 for $33

7. Best Hydrating: Pipette Hand Sanitizer

Pipette

Baby brand Pipette created this fragrance-free gel to give small hands a safe sanitizer. You’ll still find the CDC-recommended alcohol level, 65%, in the formula, but it also includes a dose of hydrating squalane oil and glycerin. That means you can count on hands that are sanitized and soft—no hand cream necessary.

Available at pipette.com, $5 

8. Best Bundle: 100% Pure Hand Sanitizer Spray

100% Pure

Other brands might be limiting their hand sanitizer orders, but 100% Pure is doing the opposite by requiring shoppers to purchase at least 6 units of its 1.7-ounce sanitizing sprays. Share your stash with neighbors or keep a bottle in various spots around your home: Its quick-dry formula will be a game-changer for keeping your hands clean on the go with a 62% ethyl alcohol concentration, tea tree oil, and soothing aloe vera. 

Available at 100percentpure.com, $5

9. Best Bulk: NXN Beauty Advanced Hand Sanitizer

Amazon

Reduce waste by opting for a bulk container of hand sanitizer like this almost-34-ounce pick. Its pump dispenser makes applying the fast-drying gel a breeze—and you’ll love that it has a 70% ethyl alcohol concentration, but still smells like lavender. Plus, it arrives at most addresses in under a week.

Available at amazon.com, $25

10. Best with CBD: Highline Wellness CBD Hand Sanitizer

Highline Wellness

CBD supplement company Highline Wellness joined the list of unexpected brands launching hand sanitizer this spring with the development of its first CBD hand sanitizer. The premium pick contains 70% isopropyl alcohol along with a hydrating dose of aloe vera and 100 mg of CBD. Once applied, it dries in under 30 seconds to leave skin germ-free and feeling clean. Best of all, your purchase will qualify for a monetary donation to the cause of your choice through Shopping Gives.

Available at highlinewellness.com, $7

11. Most Potent: Peter Thomas Roth Hand Sanitizer

Peter Thomas Roth

Celebrity-adored skincare brand Peter Thomas Roth launched its first-ever hand sanitizer in April, and it doesn’t disappoint. The 2-ounce bottle contains the highest alcohol concentration on this list, 80%, along with a hydrating boost of glycerin. Plus, your purchase supports the beauty brand’s initiative to give up to 5,000 bottles of the sanitizer to New York’s largest healthcare provider, Northwell Health Hospitals.   

Available at peterthomasroth.com, $10

12. Best for Sensitive Skin: Sparitual Hand Sanitizer Spray

The Detox Market

With a spray top constructed for sanitizing on the go, Sparitual’s hand sanitizer spray is a top pick for sensitive skin due to its limited ingredients: 75% isopropyl alcohol, glycerin, hydrogen peroxide, and purified water.

Available at thedetoxmarket.com, $24

13. Best Vegan: Previse Hand Sanitizer

Previse

Previse pivoted production to hand sanitizer overnight after coronavirus caused a spike in demand. The indie brand kept skincare in mind when developing the sanitizer, combining necessary ingredients like 75% alcohol and hydrogen peroxide with a hydrating boost of glycerin to prevent skin from drying out post-application. And yes, it’s still vegan.

Available at previsecare.com, $7 (was $10)

14. Best Gel: Remedi Sanitize 

Healthy Hand Sanitizer

Sick of spray options? Put this 2-pack at the top of your list. Its 70% alcohol formula has a gel-like consistency that completely coats your hands. Not only does it meet CDC guidelines, but it boasts vitamin E to help heal skin with consistent application.

Available at healthyhandsanitizer.com, 2 for $18 

15. Best Ingredients: Lather Hand Sanitizer with Moisturizing Aloe

LATHER

The rush to produce hand sanitizer led many brands to streamline their ingredients—but not Lather. The beauty and wellness brand developed a potent moisturizing formula by infusing its 65% alcohol concentration with skincare powerhouses like aloe vera, green tea extract, glycerin, witch hazel, and yucca. It’s available in a 3-pack or a 6-pack.

Available at lather.com, $24

16. Best Travel-Size: Merci Handy Hand Sanitizer

You won’t want to leave your home without bringing along this travel-sized pick. The 1-ounce bottles come in a fresh floral scent with the cheeky name “Flower Power.” But it’s not all about looks: The sanitizers meet CDC guidelines with 67% alcohol and also have hydrating additions like aloe vera and glycerin.

Available at anthropologie.com, $4

17. Best Fragrance-Free: Eczema Honey Hand Sanitizer Gel

Eczema Honey

If you’re sensitive to fragrance, this unscented option should be your go-to. It only has 4 ingredients—including 70% ethyl alcohol—and skips out on potential irritants. Plus, the 8-ounce size will keep you well-stocked whether it becomes a new office staple as lockdown restrictions lift or finds a permanent spot in your home entryway.

Available at eczemahoneyco.com, $15

18. Best Multipurpose: Maude clean no. O Spray

Maude

This rinse-free sanitizing spray has a little secret. The 70% alcohol formula isn’t just for cleaning your hands—it’s also safe to use as a vibrator cleaner. We’d call that a win, considering quarantine has been a prime time for sex toys.

Available at maude.com, $10

19. Best Pre-Order: Skylar Hand Sanitizer Gel

Skylar

Start stocking up for summer by placing a pre-order for Skylar’s sanitizing gel now. The skincare brand’s latest launch boasts 62% alcohol with naturally soothing additions like witch hazel. You’ll love that it smells like Skylar’s signature scent—jasmine tea and lemon leaves—and comes in an 8-ounce pump bottle. Better yet, the brand is donating part of the profits from its first production to UCLA Medical Center in Los Angeles and Mount Sinai Hospitals in New York City.

Available at skylar.com, $12

The information in this story is accurate as of press time. However, as the situation surrounding COVID-19 continues to evolve, it's possible that some data have changed since publication. While Health is trying to keep our stories as up-to-date as possible, we also encourage readers to stay informed on news and recommendations for their own communities by using the CDC, WHO, and their local public health department as resources.

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