Back in March, I would’ve been happy to use any hand sanitizer I could get my hands on as products flew off shelves and sold out online at the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic in the United States. Seven months later, as team AFAR is starting to safely and responsibly take socially distanced local getaways, we’ve been thrilled to discover all of the (in stock!) options available now to keep our hands sanitized on the go when soap and water aren’t available.
Don’t get me wrong: Purell gets the job done. But there are many options now that not only meet the CDC’s recommendation of containing at least 60 percent alcohol but also come with added aromatherapy benefits and moisturizing ingredients so your hands smell nice and don’t dry out immediately.
No matter which kind of hand sanitizer you use, remember that the CDC recommends washing hands with soap and water when possible.
“Soap and water are more effective than hand sanitizers at removing certain kinds of germs,” the CDC says. “Although alcohol-based hand sanitizers can inactivate many types of microbes very effectively when used correctly, people may not use a large enough volume of the sanitizers or may wipe it off before it has dried.”
In order to use hand sanitizer correctly, the CDC says to apply the product to the palm of one hand and rub the product all over the surfaces of your hands (don’t forget your nails!) until your hands are dry.
Here are a few great travel hand sanitizers that all meet the CDC’s minimum 60 percent alcohol recommendation and are suitable for using on the go.
Haruhome Hand Sanitizer Gel
Shop Now: $12 for three four-ounce bottles, haruhome.com
Haruhome’s founder and CEO Reina Pinto drew on the scents from her childhood growing up in Osaka, Japan, to inspire the light and not overpowering fragrances in her company’s 75 percent isopropyl alcohol hand sanitizer gel. Choose from a variety pack including scents like persimmon, Fuji apple, watermelon, or hibiscus—or get three of the same type. I keep a bottle ready to go in my weekend bag, one in my day-to-day purse, and one right near the door so I always have clean hands.
EO Lavender Hand Sanitizer Spray
Shop Now: $24 for six two-ounce bottles, amazon.com
Those who prefer the feel of alcohol sprays to gel sanitizers, will love EO Lavender Hand Sanitizer Spray. AFAR’s Maggie Fuller swore by this brand long before the coronavirus pandemic. “[It] makes me feel like I’m in a spa even when I’m in the middle of a 17-hour, cramped flight,” Fuller told AFAR’s Michelle Baran in a November 2019 article. These two-ounce bottles are sold in packs of six, so stock up for yourself now that they’re finally back in stock on Amazon—or give them away as gifts to your family and friends.
Jao Hand Refresher
Shop Now: $14 for a four-ounce bottle, nordstrom.com
As a mom (and subsequent germ warrior), Baran says she doesn’t leave home without a bottle of Jao Hand Refresher, which is made with 65 percent ethyl alcohol and lavender, tea tree, eucalyptus, geranium, and sage essential oils for a big aromatherapy boost. While the four-ounce spray bottle is easier to transport, you can also buy the larger eight-ounce bottle ($18, nordstrom.com) and decant the sanitizer into Matador FlatPak toiletry bottles to make it TSA friendly.
PiperWai Cleansing Hand Gel
Shop Now: $30 for four one-ounce bottles, piperwai.com; amazon.com
Founded in 2014 by two childhood friends who wanted to make a natural deodorant that actually worked, PiperWai has now expanded its product line to include this rinse-free cleansing hand gel. Made with 62 percent pure ethyl alcohol sourced from non-GMO sugar cane, this gel also is formulated with aloe and lemongrass, frankincense, and chamomile essential oils. PiperWai sells a larger 16-ounce bottle ($30, piperwai.com) you can keep at home and use to refill the smaller bottles for using on the go. As an added bonus, a percentage of the profits goes to the Campaign Against Hunger, a nonprofit based in Brooklyn.
D.S. & Durga Big Sur After Rain Hand Sanitizer Spray
Shop Now: $30 for an eight-ounce bottle, dsanddurga.com
Brooklyn-based D.S. & Durga is known for its high-end perfume and candles. But when COVID struck in March, its founders decided to turn one of its most popular travel-inspired scents—Big Sur After Rain—into a hand sanitizer and donated 8-ounce bottles to hospitals and health-care workers in the New York area. Now it’s available for the public to buy online. Made with 80 percent ethyl alcohol, its proprietary mix of essential oils will transport you to a coastal California eucalyptus grove even if you’re 3,000 miles away.
By Humankind Hand Sanitizer Gel
Shop Now: $15 for three 2.4-ounce bottles, byhumandkind.com
By Humankind designs all of its personal care products—from floss to deodorant—with the goal of reducing single-use plastic waste. Naturally, its hand sanitizer gels are sold in recyclable aluminum bottles. You’ll want to hang on to the pump cap—there’s an option to buy refill bottles without it to cut down on waste. Made with 65 percent alcohol and hyaluronic acid to keep skin hydrated, you can choose from grapefruit, eucalyptus, and unscented—or get a variety pack of all three types.
>> Next: 30 Road Trip Essentials to Pack for Your Next Vacation