The Complete History of Hand Sanitizer | Muse Health

History     Hand Sanitizer   Invented     Ingredients

Isn’t it interesting to take a look around at your possessions and realize that at one point in time, they were not readily available to the general public? From your cell phone to television to the oven you use to create delicious meals, these items were all invented by someone who spent years coming up with prototypes. During the uncertain times of the coronavirus pandemic, everyday items like hand sanitizer products have become hot commodities.

However, before the 19th century, these clear portable bottles were nothing more than a concept. It would come as no shock to anyone that as each century passed, ideals of and concerning cleanliness became more stringent. For many centuries, hand washing was viewed as nothing more than an act to remove visible dirt. The idea that harmful germs and microorganisms that caused illness and other complications were not heavily studied until the tail end of the 19th century and beginning of the 20th.

Once scientists uncovered the word of germs, it revolutionized the way personal hygiene was discussed. The approach to hand hygiene in particular has continued to change due (in large part) to the development and continued popularity of hand sanitizers.

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Who Invented Hand Sanitizer?

As far back as medieval times, alcohol was used to cure and disinfect wounds. From small cuts to treating ear infections, several cultures found value in the use of alcohol to manage the pain caused by injury and illness. These cultures had no idea whether the alcohol they used was actually effective because the concept of science was still in its infancy.

The value of alcohol as an antiseptic didn’t gain scientific validation until the 1880’s when Dr. L. Buchholtz tested and confirmed the antimicrobial effects of ethanol. As we now know, alcohol eliminates germs by breaking down a cell’s plasma membrane and dissolving its internal organelles.

When it comes to who invented hand sanitizer, there are two possible sources for its origin.

Why was hand sanitizer invented?

One possible inventor of hand sanitizer was a Latina woman named Lupe Hernandez. From Bakersfield, Hernandez was a nursing student in 1966 and was becoming frustrated with the lack of soap and water available to students and staff in between medical procedures. She quickly realized that alcohol delivered in gel form could quickly and effectively clean hands during situations where soap and water was sparse. Hernandez recognized the commercial potential for her idea and reportedly called an invention hotline to register the patent.

The one issue with the story of Lupe Hernandez is that there isn’t any proof that this person existed. It may be a true story but those who previously investigated the origins of hand sanitizer were not able to find Hernandez in yearbooks or articles.

Another possible inventor is a man named Lincoln L. Stevenson. Having received US Patent 2,814,081, his invention was called “Rapid Hand Sanitizer”. As Stevenson described it, his invention was a device for quickly and thoroughly rendering the hands sanitary.

Stevenson created his version of hand sanitizer after observing and working closely with departments in the food service industry. He found that those who handle the food we eat often drop and pick up items from the floor, touch their hair, cough into their hands, and then proceed to handle food. He continued by noting that hand washing in some facilities is not convenient because of the time needed to go to a sink and then walk back.  

Stevenson’s version of a hand sanitizer was much different than what we’re used to. His sanitizer came in the form of a glass box that had an opening. Workers would place their hands inside of the opening and electrically operated spray devices would sanitize the hands and then be air blown dry. The spray would only last a few seconds and be composed of alcohol, other disinfecting agents, and perfume.

There are several other patents out there concerning hand sanitizer but these two are the most commonly associated with the creation of the modern-day sanitizer. Although different in origin, both tackled an important issue that was yet to be addressed. These inventors realized the necessity of having access to a solution that effectively cleaned your hands when working in an environment where cleanliness was of the utmost importance.

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Hand Sanitizer: The Early Years - Today

The first marketable hand sanitizer brand can be traced back to a married couple in Akron, Ohio by the name of Jerry Lippman and Goldie Lippman. Around the same time that Stevenson was creating his version of hand sanitizer, Goldie noticed that men working in her rubber factory complained of hand irritation at the end of their workday. This irritation was caused by harsh chemicals found in their disinfectants. Goldie and Jerry Lippman developed an alcohol solution that was much gentler on the skin. Their mixture was a combination of petroleum jelly, mineral oil, and less than 5% alcohol.

From the reaction of workers at the factory, the Lippman’s decided to package their solution inside of repurposed pickle jars. They eventually ended up calling their solution GOJO Hand Cleaner and sold it out of their truck.

After years of building momentum, Jerry further innovated and created a portion-controlled dispenser. The dispenser allowed users of the sanitizer to get an exact amount of solution every single time. Up to that point, Jerry noticed that many workers used excessive amounts of sanitizer anytime they needed a simple cleanse.

First ingredients/formula for hand sanitizer

The first formulas for hand sanitizer consisted of ingredients like petroleum jelly, alcohol, oils, and perfumes. GOJO hand sanitizer continued with its original formula until the 1980s. The year 1988 marked an important milestone in the history of hand sanitizer as GOJO invented the hand gel Purell. Now the biggest manufacturer of hand sanitizer, the formula consisted of active ingredients 70% ethyl alcohol combined with propylene glycol.  

Although hard to believe now with the necessity of hand sanitizers, it took many years before Purell and other hand sanitizers made it onto shelves. Hand sanitizers were still considered something that only industrial and healthcare workers needed. Those sentiments eventually changed as the public learned more about hand hygiene.  

Nowadays hand sanitizer formulations include a myriad of ingredients like glycerin, aloe vera, and Vitamin E that help to improve the overall experience of hand health care.

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The Health Benefits of Hand Sanitizer  

In an ever-changing world, keeping yourself and those around you safe and healthy cannot be stressed enough. While there is no way to fight off every possible disease on the face of the planet, there are certain things you can add to your daily life that will diminish the risk of contracting or spreading diseases. Using over-the-counter hand sanitizer is one of those simple changes anyone can make to improve the lives of those around them.

How hand sanitizer improves society’s health

As previously discussed, hand sanitizers did not emerge until the late 19th and early 20th centuries. If you think about how many different surfaces and people we come in contact with on a daily basis, the amount of germs you encounter is close to billions. Hand washing will always be the best option when it comes to keeping your hands clean but sometimes access to soap and water is not viable.

Hand sanitizers are considered a great alternative to hand washing in some cases. For example, if you are in an office setting where some of your coworkers are sick, using hand sanitizer after meetings is the perfect way to assure that you’ve cleansed your hands. One rule of thumb for using hand sanitizer is that if there is visible soil on your hands or if you’ve come in contact with harmful chemicals, wash your hands. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), hand sanitizer is best used when the skin is not heavily soiled. If there is too much debris or soil on a surface, as a hand rubs together, the solution will not be as penetrating because of visible obstacles.

The major benefits of using hand sanitizer

The benefits of using hand sanitizers are well-documented but are also worth revisiting. Hand sanitizer has continued to grow in popularity due to its easy portability. Coming in a variety of sizes, from 2 ounces to 16, you can carry these bottles in your pocket, purse, or backpack. With its easy portability, hand sanitizers are also ideal for group settings. For example, if you go to a restaurant, many have hand sanitizer dispensers for those who are entering and leaving the premises. The presence of hand sanitizer alone is enough to promote groups of people to make sure their hands are clean before taking a bite out of a sandwich.

The biggest benefit of hand sanitizers is that they inhibit the spread of diseases. Even if you’re visiting a friend’s house, there is a chance that you could touch a contaminated surface and unknowingly make yourself sick. With hand sanitizers, you have a solution that not only kills germs but inhibits the formation of new bacteria. Alcohol is an incredible substance in that it can be used over and over again on a single surface without the risk of bacteria becoming immune to its effects.

What Muse Health has to offer

At Muse Health we take pride in bringing our customers an incredible hand sanitizer at an affordable price. With organizations like the Centers for disease control and prevention (CDC) and Food and Drug Administration (FDA), making note of the importance of hand sanitizers now is the best time to find a trusted brand that can help you through tough times. For a hand sanitizer to be effective, it is recommended that the formula contain at least 60 percent alcohol content. Alcohol content that is any lower is not powerful enough to break through a cell’s plasma membrane.

On top of the right amount of alcohol, you want a hand sanitizer that is created with high-quality ingredients that keep your hands feeling supple, even after repeated use.

MUSE Health currently has two hand sanitizers that are both effective at killing bacteria while also providing your hands with much-needed moisture and nourishment. Understanding that customers have different preferences, MUSE Health offers two kinds of sanitizers: one with fragrance and one without.

Both containing 62% denatured ethyl alcohol and vitamin E (for added moisture), these bottles are easily portable and come with enough solution to last for months. The formula is also safe for young children and provides the perfect disinfection during playdates or while in school.

If you want to learn more about MUSE Health products click here.

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Looking to the future

Although hand sanitizer may not be the most interesting thing to look at, its origins and history show that there has always been a need for it. Starting out as just alcohol, science helped to validate the power of alcohol as an antiseptic. Through the innovation and recognition of a need for workers in highly contaminated environments to have access to a reliable cleaning agent, the first-hand sanitizers were created. With each passing year, a new health hazard seems to appear in the United States or somewhere else in the world. And while it may be tempting to create diy sanitizers at home, with the COVID-19 pandemic still very much in full force, professionally made hand sanitizers are there to keep you and your loved ones safe from pathogens.