Hand washing is the most effective way to prevent the spread of communicable disease. The purpose of this double-blind, placebo-controlled study was to assess whether an alcohol-free, instant hand sanitizer containing surfactants, allantoin, and benzalkonium chloride could reduce illness absenteeism in a population of 769 elementary school children and serve as an effective alternative when regular soap and water hand washing was not readily available. Prior to the study, students were educated about proper hand washing technique, the importance of hand washing to prevent transmission of germs, and the relationship between germs and illnesses. Children in kindergarten through the 6th grade (ages 5-12) were assigned to the active or placebo hand-sanitizer product and instructed to use the product at scheduled times during the day and as needed after coughing or sneezing. Data on illness absenteeism were tracked. After 5 weeks, students using the active product were 33% less likely to have been absent because of illness when compared with the placebo group.