What to Know About Custom Hand Sanitizer

It’s more important than ever to keep yourself safe from harmful pathogens when you’re outside the house, and businesses looking for new promotional marketing opportunities should pay attention to brandable items like face masks that are seeing wide use. When everyone is trying to stay clean throughout the day, adding your branding to promotional hand sanitizer bottles can be a great way to get your company’s name out there.

If you’re interested in getting some custom-branded hand sanitizer for your business, it’s important to understand how hand sanitizer works and what decisions you might have to make as you research and choose a vendor.

What is hand sanitizer for?

As we interact with the world every day, we touch innumerable surfaces — doors, tables, chairs, other peoples’ hands — and these surfaces can harbor viruses, bacteria and other microscopic pathogens that can make us sick. Once those pathogens are on your hands, it’s easy for them to get into your body through your mouth, eyes or other opening, potentially causing disease.

This is why you should wash your hands before meals, and why you’ll hear advice not to touch your face without washing your hands when you’ve been out in public. In fact, research shows that the combination of antibacterial hand soap, warm water and the physical action of scrubbing is the best way to keep your hands clean, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommend using soap and water over other kinds of hand sanitizing when available.

The reason soap and water are better has to do with how they work: Washing your hands effectively removes dirt and germs from your hands, while things like hand sanitizer work to kill microorganisms that can make you sick.

You can see the differences clearly in how each is used. With soap and water, you scrub and rinse, removing grime and germs; with hand sanitizer, you just spread the gel around your hands and let it dry, ideally killing the germs.

Incidentally, this also shows one of the drawbacks of hand sanitizer: Because you’re not actually washing your hands, dirt and grime are not effectively removed when you sanitize. This residual smutz can harbor germs that the sanitizer isn’t able to reach, leaving your hands less clean than if you had washed them. Hand sanitizers are ineffective at removing harmful chemicals like pesticides or lead residue for the same reason.

Why use hand sanitizer instead of soap and water?

In times where hand cleanliness is especially important, there are a few reasons why you might prefer hand sanitizer to soap and water.

For one, soap tends to irritate skin with repeated use. If you’re in a situation where you need to clean your hands often, washing every time with soap and water could leave your hands dry and cracked, which is both unpleasant and counterproductive — those cracks are just more ways for pathogens to get in, after all!

Hand sanitizer also offers a level of ease and convenience hand washing usually can’t, killing germs on your hands nearly instantly when finding soap and water would be inconvenient or impossible.

This is why many people have started carrying personal bottles of hand sanitizer in their pockets, purses and bags, and why many restaurants and stores have started making a habit of leaving hand sanitizer dispensers at entrances, at tables, outside bathrooms — anywhere people are likely to touch surfaces others have already touched.

How should you use hand sanitizer?

General guidelines are to use hand sanitizer any time you would normally wash your hands but aren’t able to, though this comes with a few caveats.

As noted above, do NOT use hand sanitizer when your hands are visibly greasy or dirty. Because sanitizer works by coating your hands rather than cleaning them off, dirt, grease and grime can keep the sanitizer coating from reaching all the germs on your hands, rendering it less effective. If your hands are dirty, you should prioritize finding soap and water to wash with.

You should also avoid using hand sanitizer if the skin on your hands is very dry or cracked. Though most hand sanitizer is gentler on hands than harsh soaps, alcohol still tends to dry skin out and will make very dry skin worse. In cases like this, it’s best to search out gentle, moisturizing soaps and use those until your skin heals.

What should you know before you order?

So what do you have to look out for when you’re deciding where to order personalized hand sanitizer? There are a few areas where you might see some differences:


The ingredients in hand sanitizer determine how effectively it kills germs, as well as how easy it is to dispense and how it affects your skin. Here are a few common ingredients and what you should know about them:

Alcohol: The CDC’s high-level guidelines recommend a hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol as the active ingredient, but there are several kinds of alcohols that can be used, each with different recommended strengths. The CDC recommends two:

  • Ethanol (C2H6O): At least 60%
  • Isopropanol (C3H8O): At least 70%

You should only use sanitizers that use one of the above alcohols, as other mixtures could be ineffective or even dangerous.

Hydrogen peroxide (H2O2): This chemical is often added at low volumes to kill spores that might be resistant to alcohol, keeping the sanitizing solution sterile in the bottle. It has no effect on how well the sanitizer kills germs.

Glycerol (C3H8O3): This is added to make the sanitizing solution more “gel-like” and to help prevent the alcohol from drying out users’ skin too much. Without glycerol or some other kind of gelling agent, hand sanitizers can be very liquid, making them potentially awkward to dispense.

Other chemicals: Companies may sometimes add additional ingredients in order to change consistency, improve odor or create some other effect. Common additives include vitamin E, aloe vera and moisture beads, all added to reduce the alcohol’s dehydrating and irritating effect. Be careful with any additional ingredients, as they may cause allergic reactions or decrease the effectiveness of the sanitizer.


The main method you’ll use to personalize your hand sanitizer is custom-printing the front label. Depending on the size of the bottles you’re considering, you may be able to add your logo, tagline, messaging and more to your hand sanitizer.

When you’re considering vendors, make sure to check what they’re capable of printing — if their capacities are limited, you might have to work with a limited color palette or pay extra for complicated designs. If you want to ensure your logo looks its best, try to find a vendor offering high-quality, full-color UV printing.


The last big decision you’ll have to make is what size you want your branded hand sanitizer to come in. Overall, there are two main types of hand sanitizer packaging, each designed for different kinds of use:

Individual Sizes: These include mini hand sanitizers and usually come in volumes of 30–100 ml (1–3.4 oz), perfect for stashing in a purse or bag to be used throughout the day.

Desk Sizes: Usually around 500 ml (16.9 oz), these come with plunger dispensers, making them ideal for desks and bathrooms where multiple people might need to sanitize every day.

You’re ready to brand your hand sanitizer.

Now that you have a good idea how hand sanitizer works, what it’s made of and what you can do to customize your branded bottles, you’re ready to get started! Make sure to think through how your company, clients and customers will use the sanitizer you’re buying, and make your design and packaging decisions with those users in mind.

That might mean focusing on desk dispensers for in-office use or buying a lot of individual bottles to give out at trade shows — the important thing is to create a branded hand sanitizer people will want to use. And don’t forget about the big effects promotional products and promotional items can have on your bottom line while you’re deciding what you want!

Share your thoughts