Alcohol-impregnated wipes as an alternative in hand hygiene

Arlene M. Butz, Barbara E. Laughon, Donna L. Gullette, Elaine L. Larson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The antimicrobial effectiveness of four hand-wash products for health care personnel included three liquid soaps that contained 4% chlorhexidine gluconate, 1% triclosan, or no antiseptic ingredient, respectively, and a 30% w/w ethyl alcohol-impregnated hand wipe. These products were evaluated for reduction in bacterial counts on hands after extended use of 15 handwashes per day for 5 consecutive days. The order of greatest to least log reduction among products at the end of the 5-day test period was chlorhexidine gluconate (2.01), triclosan (1.52), alcohol wipe (0.04), and control soap (0.03). Skin condition before and after handwash was assessed for each treatment group. Subjects reported less skin irritation with alcohol wipes than with the two antiseptic products. Repeated washing with alcohol wipes results in reductions in bacterial colony counts comparable with nonmedicated soap, sufficient to prevent transmission of pathogens by the hands in most situations that arise in nonacute health care settings. This evidence, in addition to increased user acceptability reported by the subjects who used alcohol wipes, suggests that alcohol wipes are an acceptable alternative to soap-and-water handwashing in nonacute health care settings.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)70-76
Number of pages7
JournalAJIC: American Journal of Infection Control
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 1990

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Epidemiology
  • Health Policy
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Infectious Diseases

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