Impact of hand sanitizer format (gel/foam/liquid) and dose amount on its sensory properties and acceptability for improving hand hygiene compliance

J Hosp Infect. 2018 Oct;100(2):195-201. doi: 10.1016/j.jhin.2018.07.011. Epub 2018 Sep 17.


Background: Effective alcohol-based hand rubs (ABHRs) and healthcare worker compliance with hand hygiene guidelines are important in the prevention of infection transmission in healthcare settings. Compliance to hand hygiene guidelines is affected by many factors including education, ABHR availability, time pressure, skin health, and user acceptance of the sensory properties of ABHRs during and after application.

Aim: To examine the effect of ABHR format (gel/foam/liquid) and dose (0.7 mL, 1.5 mL, 3 mL) on its sensory properties and acceptability, and to consider how this might affect healthcare workers' hand hygiene compliance.

Methods: Sensory descriptive analysis established key sensory differences between ten market-leading ABHRs (three gels, four foams, two liquids, one aerosol foam). Focus groups reinforced these differences.

Findings: All formats were less desirable at the highest dose as they were more difficult to handle than the lower doses. Foams and gels became stickier, less clean-feeling and slower to dry at higher doses. Liquids gave a cleaner, smoother, more moisturized feel, but the increased difficulty in handling and applying the product negated these benefits. Overall, the gel and foam formats were more desirable than the liquid. The key desirable properties include: fast absorption, soft/moisturized hand feel, not sticky, clean feel, and low smell.

Conclusion: The 1.5 mL dose yielded the most acceptable properties with no extreme negative consequences. The foam provided the benefits of both the liquid and gel and combined them into a more widely acceptable format that may lead to greater hand hygiene compliance.

Keywords: Alcohol-based hand rub; Focus group; Hand hygiene; Healthcare professionals; Sensory descriptive analysis; Skin feel.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Disease Transmission, Infectious / prevention & control
  • Dosage Forms*
  • Female
  • Gels / administration & dosage
  • Guideline Adherence*
  • Hand Hygiene / methods*
  • Hand Sanitizers / administration & dosage*
  • Health Personnel
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Patient Acceptance of Health Care*
  • Solutions / administration & dosage
  • Young Adult


  • Dosage Forms
  • Gels
  • Hand Sanitizers
  • Solutions