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Does hand sanitizer kill the coronavirus?

CLAIM: Hand sanitizer destroys the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19.

LIKELY TRUE. However, washing your hands with soap and water is best.


Hand sanitizer should destroy the novel coronavirus.

Hand sanitizer destroys viruses that are similar to the novel coronavirus, so experts believe it will work against the novel coronavirus, too.

  • Hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol works best. Look for labels with at least 60% ethanol or 70% isopropanol.
  • Cover all surfaces of both hands with the sanitizer. Read the package to be sure you’re using the right amount.
  • Store and use hand sanitizer carefully, especially around children. Swallowing hand sanitizer can cause alcohol poisoning. Sanitizer also can catch on fire.
  • Be sure the hand sanitizer is not on the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's list of hand sanitizers that should not be used. These hand sanitizers have been found to contain toxic ingredients.

If you’re near a sink, wash with soap and water instead.

Scrubbing with soap for 20 seconds and rinsing well is the best way to get the novel coronavirus—and other germs—off your hands.

  • Washing with soap and water kills more types of germs than using hand sanitizer.
  • Hand sanitizer works less well against germs when your hands are dirty or greasy. Washing with soap and water works better if your hands are dirty or greasy.
Published on: April 23, 2020
Last updated: July 29, 2020