The History of Hand Sanitizer

Hand Sanitizer being squirted into handAs a result of the spread of COVID-19, hand sanitizer has been a hot item that is hard to find. The best defense against the Coronavirus is washing your hands with warm water and soap, but if soap is not accessible you should use a hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol, according to The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

You may think hand sanitizer has been around for a long time, but that’s not exactly the case. We took a deeper dive into the history of hand sanitizer (and the debate on who actually invented it).

The History of Hand Sanitizer

The primary ingredient in hand sanitizer is alcohol. Most hand sanitizers contain anywhere from 60%-95% isopropyl or ethyl alcohol, mixed with water and gels for skin hydration. Alcohol has been used as an antiseptic since the 1800’s but the idea of hand sanitizer wasn’t thought of until many years later.

According to CNBC, The first story of the origin of hand sanitizer starts in 1946, when Goldie and Jerry Lippman developed a waterless hand cleaner for plant workers who worked with harsh chemicals. This product was called Gojo and was a mix of petroleum jelly, mineral oil, and 5% alcohol. They mixed their first batch in their home washing machine and sold the product in pickle jars out of the trunk of their car. This is still used today by auto mechanics to clean substances like grease and oil from their skin

The next origin story takes place in 1966 with a nursing student in Bakersfield, California named Lupe Hernandez. He combined alcohol and gel for use by doctors so they were able to use it when they didn’t have time to access soap. But, there is no evidence of a U.S. patent for hand sanitizer under that name in the 1960s.

The German company Hartmann claims it created “the world’s first marketable alcohol-based hand disinfectant” because it hit European shelves in 1965. This had 75% alcohol and glycerin.

Circling back to the Lippman’s, in 1988 they invented the hand gel Purell, which consists of 70% ethyl alcohol as its primary ingredient, accompanied by propylene glycol. This is known as the world’s best-selling hand sanitizer, but it did take a lot of time for stores to carry this product. Gojo did not release Purell onto the consumer market until 1997 and sales did not take off until the 2000s.

Hand Sanitizer Now

The sales of hand sanitizer have been extremely high in the US ever since the first case of COVID-19 hit the country. During the first week of March, hand sanitizer sales were up by 470% compared to the same week last year. The industry already sees more than $200 million in yearly sales, according to Nielsen. Globally, the market for hand sanitizer products could top $2.1 billion by 2027.

With a nationwide shortage of hand sanitizer, online prices of an 8 oz bottle inflated from $2.50 to $90 briefly in early March as well. Many manufacturers have stepped in to help meet the demand and get pricing under control.

Packaging For Hand Sanitizer

Hand sanitizer packaging comes in a number of different formats — ranging from small, travel-size containers to larger bottles. If you are a company interested in expanding your offerings to include hand sanitizer, it’s a good idea to start thinking about packaging options.

East Hill offers a plethora of options for your hand sanitizer packaging needs, including the traditional pump bottle, tubes, or spray bottles. Feel free to contact us by filling out our online contact form today!