HAND SANITISER AND SURFACE CLEANER – HOW TO CHOOSE SAFELY

An Introduction to Surface Cleaner Products and Hand Sanitisers

Surface disinfectants and hand sanitisers are a great way to protect yourself, your family and your employees during and after the Covid-19 pandemic. These products have been around for a while but due to their increased importance in protecting yourself and others, but it is very important that you ensure the products you decide to use are fit for purpose and safe. Hand sanitiser and surface disinfectants are Biocidal products.

What is a biocidal product?

A biocidal product is one which controls harmful or unwanted organisms through chemical or biological means. Common examples of such products are disinfectants, wood preservatives and insect repellents. – Health and Safety Executive

Whether it is for you and your family, or for your workforce, you need to check that any biocidal products that you buy are suitable.

How are Surface Cleaners and Hand Sanitisers Regulated?

The Biocidal Products Regulation (BPR) are starting to regulate biocidal products including hand sanitisers and surface cleaners in the UK. This is to ensure that as long as you use them as directed, then they will not adversely affect you or your surroundings. By assessing the ingredients and the final product the BPR will then be able to approve products before they can be sold and used to businesses and the general public.

Product manufacturers and suppliers are ultimately responsible for ensuring their products are suitably effective and that they provide high levels of safety for the end user. If in doubt – ASK! The manufacturer or supplier of the hand sanitiser or surface cleaner should be able to confirm if the active substance in their product has been reviewed or submitted for review under BPR.

How can I identify suitable products?

A good way to work out which surface cleaners and hand sanitisers are suitable for your requirements is to start with the HSE’s database of Authorised Products (relevant for those in the United Kingdom). Not all products will appear on this database and that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be used. It may be that the ingredients in the cleaner or sanitiser are still being reviewed and assessed and therefore do not require authorisation yet. A good example of this is ethanol which you will see in many products but has not been completely reviewed yet. Ethanol products will not appear in the HSE’s database but can continue to be used.

Ensure you use hand sanitiser and surface cleaner properly

Once you have purchased safe and approved products it is important you use those products appropriately. Manufacturers must be responsible in providing clear instructions on their product labels for users. It is then up to you to ensure that you read, understand and follow the instructions and that you make sure those who will be using the hand sanitiser or surface cleaner understand how to do so safely and effectively.


There is more information about the supply and manufacture of hand sanitiser and surface disinfectants during the coronavirus outbreak courtesy of the Health and Safety Executive.

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