Impact of an alcohol-based hand sanitizer intervention on the spread of viruses in homes

Food Environ Virol. 2014 Jun;6(2):140-4. doi: 10.1007/s12560-014-9141-9. Epub 2014 Apr 13.


The objectives of this study were to determine the movement of a virus throughout a household and the impact of an alcohol-based hand sanitizer (ABHS) on reducing the movement and exposure of the virus to household members. Bacterial virus MS-2 was used as the surrogate for human enteric and respiratory viruses. Seven households with families having at least two children in the age range of 2-18 living in the home were used in this study. The hands of one adult family member were contaminated with 1 × 10(8). MS-2 bacteriophage in each home. After 8 h, the hands of each family member (10 fingers) and 20 frequently touched fomites were sampled to determine baseline contamination without intervention. Within 8 h, MS-2 was detected on all of the family member's hands and most of the fomites. The intervention consisted of providing the families in all selected homes with bottles of an ABHS, which were placed in the kitchen, bathrooms, and nurseries. Smaller individual bottles were provided for each family member greater than 12 years old to place in purses, pockets, backpacks, etc. The families were instructed to use the ABHS one time or three times during the day. For one and three uses, a statistically significant reduction of virus on un-inoculated and inoculated hands of ~99% occurred within 8 h. Similar reductions occurred on fomites throughout the households (97-99%). These results demonstrate that the use of an ABHS can significantly reduce transfer of a virus to the hands, and to the commonly touched surfaces within the household.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Ethanol / pharmacology*
  • Family
  • Female
  • Hand Sanitizers / pharmacology*
  • Household Articles
  • Humans
  • Hygiene
  • Male
  • Virus Diseases / transmission*
  • Virus Diseases / virology
  • Virus Physiological Phenomena / drug effects*
  • Viruses / drug effects*
  • Young Adult


  • Hand Sanitizers
  • Ethanol