In the absence of soap and water, it has become common practice to use a hand sanitizer. Urban legend states that hand sanitizer was invented in the U.S. in 1966; proof, however, is inconclusive. Published facts in the historical timeline of hand sanitizer’s evolution include below: Read the facts with Pritish Kumar Halder.

Ancient Hand Sanitizer – B.C

ancient use of sanitizerBefore hand sanitizer, also known as hand sanitiser, was even around, people knew that alcohol could sterilize. Alcohol, is actually derived from al kohl, a term for the antimony ancient Egyptians used to treat eye infections 5,000 years ago. Later, you can find references of using alcohol for wound treatment by physicians like from Claudius Galen (131- 201 AD), and over a thousand years later  Guy de Chauliac (1363).

Alcohol as a Modern Antiseptic – 1800 -1900s

While it has been used throughout history, actual scientific evidence for the antimicrobial properties of alcohol did not come until 1875. At this point, it was a widely debated topic, as sanitizer would kill bacteria, but not spores. This continued, though alcohol’s introduction into surgical procedure began with multiple well-known physicians recommending alcohol for pre-surgery hand and surface disinfection in 1888. By 1930’s ethanol was the preferred skin antiseptic in hospitals.

The Invention of Hand Sanitizer – 1996

By this time, it was no secret that alcohol killed germs – but there was no real way to apply it on the go, and at home. Lupe Hernández hand sanitizer legend concerns an American nurse who, as a student in Bakersfield, California in 1966, invented the now-ubiquitous hand sanitizer gel. The claim is controversial as attempts to verify it by independent investigations at The Washington Post, the National Museum of American History and the Los Angeles Times have proven fruitless. Originally it was only used in hospital settings, until it became commercialized by companies like Purell and Gojo in 1988.Purell ad is one of the oldest sanitizer in 1990s.

Lupe Hernández

Lupe Hernández inventor of Modern hand sanitizer in 1996

The 2000s of Hand Sanitizer

Stuff can always be better – and that’s what we’ve tried to do. Hand sanitizer has really picked up speed within only the last 30 years, and we made some change to try and give customers our version of a better smelling, better feeling hand sanitizer.

As the historical timeline for hand sanitizing innovations progressed, alcohol-based sanitizer form factors expanded. A degreasing cleanser in the automotive industry was made available in a wall-mount form factor. It is said that to this day all wall-mount hand sanitizer dispensers are a direct descendant of this design. History shows that in 1988 alcohol-based gel hand sanitizers from the U.S. were used in food service and healthcare industries. In 1996, this alcohol-based gel hand sanitizer was introduced to the consuming public. Foam hand sanitizers were introduced to the public in 2003 in the U.S.

Additional product development in hand sanitizer included incorporating appealing scents. News reports of oral consumption of hand sanitizers and poisoning, by people of all ages, occurred as a result. In 2019, the U.S. FDA issued a final ruling for three active ingredients in hand sanitizers: ethanol alcohol, isopropyl alcohol, and benzalkonium chloride. From 2019-2020, alcohol-based hand sanitizers were once again in the U.S. FDA’s spotlight due to product recalls and health warnings.

Hand Sanitizers in this global pandemic

With the global pandemic, new brands of alcohol-based hand sanitizer emerged on the market and product sales skyrocketed to more than 500%. Many of these new alcohol-based hand sanitizers failed with product formulation and quality testing prior to launch. This triggered an ongoing FDA product recall now involving more than 160 brands for alcohol contamination.

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