Last updated: August 17, 2021

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Welcome. Today we are going to talk about a very effective antiseptic for human hands and arms: alcohol gel. Carrying a small bottle of this product can help a lot with your daily personal hygiene! We didn't hear much about alcohol gel in Brazil until the H1N1 flu outbreak that happened in 2009.

Because of people's need to keep their hands and arms clean and germ-free during the worst moments of the epidemic, many started carrying the product. Today, it has become part of everyday life for a large number of people. But do you know why alcohol gel is so important? In which situations should you use it? What do you need to pay attention to before making your purchase? We will talk about all this in the following lines!


  • The alcohol gel approved by ANVISA and with a concentration of 70% ethyl alcohol is an excellent antiseptic. It can be very useful in daily life to combat possible viruses and bacteria.
  • Using alcohol gel does not eliminate the need to wash your hands with soap and water. Whenever possible, perform this activity as well.
  • Alcohol gel 70% should not be used to clean surfaces and non-biological elements. It is preferable to do this with other concentrations, which will usually be present in different formats.

The Best Alcohol Gel: Our Picks

Buying guide

Ready to know everything about alcohol gel? In the buying guide, we will answer all your possible questions. It's time to learn about the main advantages and benefits of this antiseptic, as well as some essential questions you need to know about it.

 Imagem mostra uma mulher e uma criança em frente a uma torneira com água corrente.

Even with alcohol gel, washing your hands with soap and water is very important. (Source: Jennifer Murray/

What is alcohol gel and what is it used for?

As the name says, alcohol gel is a concentrate of ethyl alcohol in gel form that serves to sanitize the hands. The main advantage is the elimination of viruses, bacteria and other germs, something that usually happens very quickly. Most of the alcohol gels available on the market have a concentration of 70% ethyl alcohol.

This is the ideal number for use on the hands and for eliminating micro-organisms. It is with it that the best results are achieved. Above that, the death of micro-organisms does not happen, but the disintegration of their cells. There can also be a detrimental effect on the skin itself as the moisturising properties are less. You should also always check that the product complies with current health regulations, and this information should appear on the label.

Alcohol gel or soap?

Despite its germicidal action, alcohol gel does not replace the act of frequently washing your hands with soap and water. There are advantages and disadvantages in its use in relation to soap, and that is exactly why both should be used in a complementary way. Prefer alcohol gel at times when there is no way to wash your hands, or when you need a quick sanitation.

The main advantage of alcohol gel is that it is easy to carry. You can have it in your handbag, backpack or fanny pack at all times and apply it easily. However, even those with moisturising properties, overuse will dry out the skin. To kill viruses, bacteria and other germs, alcohol gel and soap have the same efficiency. But for residual dirt, visible to the naked eye, the classic washing with water is necessary. We have put together a table comparing alcohol gel and soap. Check it out:

Alcohol gel Washing with water and soap
Combats micro-organisms Kills most micro-organisms quickly Kills most micro-organisms quickly
Cleaning Does not eliminate typical everyday residual dirt Eliminates typical daily residual dirt
Hydration Has moisturizing properties, but excessive use may cause drying of the hands Will not cause drying of the hands
Other advantages Ease of transportation to be used anywhere, protects the hand even after application Much cheaper cost

Can alcohol gel be used in other ways?

You have probably seen someone using alcohol gel to clean surfaces such as tables, chairs and worktops. But is this recommended? The answer is no. Traditional 70% concentration alcohol gel will not clean these surfaces. What happens is that over time, the alcohol evaporates, leaving only the gel and facilitating the accumulation of dirt. In other words, causing the opposite effect to the one desired.

For cleaning non-biological surfaces, prefer the liquid alcohol. It will be able to perform this function perfectly and the problem of accumulation of dirt will not occur. This is its main function. Likewise, you should never apply alcohol gel on the face or other parts of the body with more sensitive skin. Even with moisturizer in the composition, the substance still has the character of solvent and can cause many problems.

Did you know? According to ANVISA, the liquid alcohol sold in Brazil may have a maximum gradation of 54%. Above that, it becomes very dangerous, with potential for burns and very serious domestic accidents. Therefore, liquid alcohol does not have an antiseptic character, since as we have learned with alcohol gel, a 70% gradation is required for it to be effective.

Buying criteria: what to consider when buying alcohol gel

Now that you know the benefits of alcohol gel and the situations in which you should use it, we have selected some criteria for you to take into account when buying:

We'll talk a little about each of them below.


Would you like your hands to be perfumed after sanitizing with alcohol gel? If so, it is good to choose one with a good fragrance. There are also neutral options, in case you are allergic or simply don't want any smell.

Some manufacturers have added a variety of fragrances and even included some additives in the composition of the alcohol gel. Obviously, this also leads to an increase in price and the smells are not as pleasant as those of a male or female perfume developed for this specific purpose!


Is the alcohol gel for personal use on a daily basis or to be left in the bathrooms of a company or restaurant? You can think about this to choose the size of the bottle you will buy and, from this, the cost-benefit you will get. The tendency is that a 5 litre bottle is much cheaper in comparison than a 500 ml one, for example. Just divide the total price by the amount of product and arrive at the value per litre or milliliter. This way, you will find out if you are saving money!

Imagem mostra uma pessoa usando álcool gel de um frasco público em um hospital.

If alcohol gel is used in work environments, it is good to buy bottles of large quantities. (Source: thamkc/

Expiry date

The shelf life of alcohol gel is not infinite. Over time, the product will lose its efficiency until it no longer has any effect. It wouldn't be a good idea to think you're protected from germs, but that's just an illusion, is it? Always pay attention to the expiry date of the product you are going to buy. Think about the speed of its use: is it daily? Only in specific situations? That way, you will know if you will be able to consume all the alcohol gel before it expires.

Ease of transportation

Most people buy alcohol gel to use at times in their daily lives when they are away from toilets, water and soap. This way, you can sanitize yourself before meals, after using public transportation and the like. In this case, it is important to have a bottle that is easy to carry. The purchase of small containers is ideal, even more so if they are made of plastic and fit easily into handbags or fanny packs. In the worst case, you can purchase a separate bottle and transfer it.

(Featured image source: Gadini/

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