How does sanitiser work?

Sanitisers and disinfectants are designed to kill microorganisms such as bacteria and viruses. Alcohol, the active ingredient, kills bacteria and viruses by destroying the proteins which make up their DNA and RNA in a process called denaturing.

Alcohol based disinfectant has long been recognised by the scientific and medical communities as the simplest and most effective way of destroying both viruses and bacteria.  Ethanol kills more viruses, bacteria than any other alternative.

The World Health Organisation advises that 75% alcohol is the best concentration for disinfectant use in order to prevent the spread of diseases. A little bit of water is required to increase the penetrative capability of the alcohol into the microorganisms hence why 100% alcohol is not actually as effective as 75%.

“What makes INEOS Sanitiser products different/special/work” or “Why should I choose INEOS Sanitiser products”?

INEOS have a long-standing history of producing the purest most effective sanitising agent – pharmaceutical grade alcohol. (ref 10) At the core of our sanitiser products is our high purity ethanol is manufactured to meet the specialist requirements of healthcare environments.

Our sanitiser products are made from 75% alcohol solution.  We make the alcohol ourselves from raw ingredients and have more than 20 years’ experience of working in this highly regulated environment.  We have ensured our sanitisers are as pure as possible with nothing added that doesn’t kill viruses and bacteria.

Why is hospital grade important?

Hospitals have a very high standard of hygiene and they need confidence in the best sanitiser products, so they only use those with high alcohol concentration. High purity sanitisers have a higher microbial effectiveness and are therefore more hygienic [ref 1] which is why INEOS sanitiser products disinfect so well.

Are all sanitisers just as effective as INEOS Sanitisers? 

There is lots of advice but as advised by the US CDC – “Many studies have found that sanitisers with an alcohol concentration between 60–95% are more effective at killing germs than those with a lower alcohol concentration or non-alcohol-based hand sanitizers” (ref 2). Hence avoid sanitisers outside this range.

Sanitiser products with alcohol content as low as 30% can have some pathogen killing ability but to be able to kill 99.9% of viruses and bacteria then the concentration needs to be much higher.  Some sanitiser products may use bensalkonium chloride which has the same microbial effectiveness at a concentration of 0.13% (ref 3).

When should I use sanitiser?

Hand Sanitiser is the best alternative to sanitise hands if soap and water are not available, for example for use out and about. Use an alcohol-based hand sanitiser that contains at least 60% alcohol, and wash with soap and water as soon as you can (ref 4).

Sanitisers are most effective when your hands or surfaces aren’t visibly dirty.

Apply hand sanitiser to hands when they are dry.  For surfaces, spray the sanitiser on the surface, leave it for at least 30 seconds for effective sanitisation and then wipe it away.

Wipes and sanitiser are both just as effective if used correctly so it’s personal preference.  Hand wipes can be used to sanitise surfaces too, although they won’t be quite as effective as the dedicated surface wipes which are specifically designed for surfaces. Hand and surface wipes should not be reused as they are designed as a single use product.

Is there a difference between cleaning and disinfecting?

Cleaning is the process of removing dirt.  It does not necessarily kill germs but by removing them it lowers their numbers and therefore reduces the risk of spreading infection.

Disinfecting or sanitising is the process of using chemicals to specifically kills germs.  This process does not necessarily clean hands or surfaces or remove germs but by killing germs after cleaning it can further lower the risk of spreading infection.

How has our sanitiser been tested and certified?

INEOS is the world’s leading supplier of synthetic alcohol. We also supply many other sanitiser companies with the raw ingredients to make their products.

Our Sanitisers are manufactured in our own factories. At the core of our sanitiser is our high purity ethanol is manufactured to meet the specialist requirements of healthcare environments.

Our products have been through stringent testing, certified by EN Standards.

Our sanitisers have also been dermatologically tested to ensure there are no negative effects caused by how it reacts to applications on the body, specifically on hands.  

Our sanitisers are not tested on animals.

Does INEOS sanitiser expire?

Hygienics hand sanitiser has a minimum shelf life of 2 years (ref 5) when kept within the correct storage conditions (a well ventilated, dry location, out of direct sunlight).

Can sanitisers explode or cause fire?

A 75% concentration alcohol sanitiser is flammable and can be explosive. There are many ways that the sanitisers can ignite hence they have to be handled with care and kept away from sources of ignition and heat (ref 6).

Being so powerful is the sanitiser safe?

Use biocides carefully. Always read the label and product information before use.

Sanitiser products are safe to use when pregnant as long as you follow the safety precautions and instructions (ref 7) and are not allergic to any of the ingredients in the solution. Otherwise when pregnant it is good to have high hygiene standards to protect your baby.

A surface spray can be harmful to humans and to animals if it is ingested, inhaled or gets into the eyes. To avoid this, be sure to follow the directions of use carefully, spray 15-20cm from a surface and only use the products in a well ventilated space (ref 8) and when using a sanitiser spray keep pets and animals out of the way or in another area to the house in order to prevent harm to them. Read the SDS for more (ref 9).

Hand wipes shouldn’t be used on your face, or any other part of the body other than hands, as your skin is more sensitive and therefore there is more potential to cause irritation. Also, you may risk getting the wipe in your eyes which will cause serious eye irritation.

Hand gels should not be ingested.  If swallowed by accident seek immediate medical help.   

Always keep sanitiser products out of reach of children.


  1. WHO Study
  5. Product Outline Information
  6. Safety Data Sheet - German
  7. Safety Data Sheet - English
  8. Spray Product Description
  9. Safety Data Sheet - English
  10. INEOS Ethanol

INEOS Hand Sanitiser in production

World's largest producer of sanitising alcohol

As the world's largest manufacturer of high purity synthetic ethanol, steeped in safety and operational excellence in a highly regulated environment, we are uniquely placed to assure our customers of continuity of supply and the highest levels of product quality. 

As a quickly evolving Hygiene business, we will be able to meet the demands of both customers and businesses as we all adapt to the new demands for hygiene against corona and other viruses.