The information on this page is intended for consumers who wish to understand more about buying and using hand sanitisers amid the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. If you are seeking to manufacture, supply, or advertise hand sanitisers, see Hand sanitisers: Information for manufacturers, suppliers and advertisers.
Soap and water is most effective for hand washing
The Department of Health recommends that you use soap and water wherever possible, but hand sanitiser where soap and water may not be available. Further tips on good hand hygiene during COVID-19 are available on the Department of Health website.
How hand sanitisers work
Hand sanitisers contain antiseptic ingredients. An antiseptic is a substance that is used on the skin to kill microorganisms or prevent the growth of microorganisms.
Hand sanitisers can be either hand washes for use with water or handrubs for use without water. The way these products are regulated depends on how they are used, what they contain, and what they claim to do.
Appropriate use of hand sanitisers
You should always follow the directions for use located on the label of all hand sanitiser products.
For products regulated by the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA), the directions for use have been approved based on test data. You can tell if a product is regulated by the TGA by looking for an AUST R number on the label.
Homemade hand sanitisers for your own use are not regulated by us. The TGA is unable to endorse the use of homemade products since we cannot confirm their safety, quality and effectiveness.
It is important to remember that handrubs used without water may not work well when hands are visibly dirty, therefore, handrubs should only be used when hands are visibly clean or when soap and water is not available.