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Say NO to alcohol-based disinfectants!

Discover why you should avoid alcohol-based hand sanitisers
and surface disinfectants.

Alcohol is NOT the most effective disinfection agent

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Amongst alcohol-based hand sanitisers and surface disinfectants, ethyl alcohol and isopropyl alcohol are the most dominant product types. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggests that alcohol-based hand sanitiser needs to contain at least 60% alcohol to be effective. Any sanitiser with a lower alcohol concentration may not work equally well for many types of germs and may only reduce the growth of germs instead of killing them.

Watter® Hand Sanitiser and Watter® Surface Disinfectant have been tested according to EN 1276 and EN1650 standards and proven to be effective against various micro-organisms. Our products do not contain alcohol, perfumes, aldehydes, parabens, dyes or any substance identified as carcinogenic.

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Safety concerns

A lot of people are unaware of the health consequences of using alcohol-based disinfectants.

These are the top 7 reasons why you should stop using disinfectants containing alcohol:

1. Ethanol is a CMR substance

Ethanol is a carcinogenic, mutagenic and reprotoxic (CMR) substance which has huge safety risks.


Carcinogenic means that it can induce cancer or increase its incidence.

Mutagenic means that it can damage the genetic material of the cells such as DNA
or chromosomes. Furthermore, this can lead to permanent changes - mutations.


Reprotoxic refers to direct and specific effects on sexual function and fertility.
This is especially dangerous to pregnant women.

Professional businesses should reduce the use of CMR-compounds as much as possible
to protect their employees. All Watter® products are CMR-free.

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2. Toxic vapours

The alcohol contained in the disinfecting products produces toxic vapours. The increased inhalation of alcohol can harm the brain. This is a particular hazard to teens and young adults because their brains have not finished developing yet. Moreover, alcohol vapours are heavier than air so they tend to accumulate near the floor, which is especially affecting small children.

Therefore, if there is a need for frequent disinfection of surfaces in places where a lot of people are present, for safety reasons other substances should be used, which do not contain alcohol.

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3. Fast evaporation

Disinfectants that contain a lot of alcohol can evaporate off surfaces too quickly to kill the germs on that surface. Therefore, it is not recommended for use on large surfaces and hands.

4. Ethanol is highly flammable 

The UK Office for Product Safety & Standards is warning:

“Many hand sanitising products contain highly flammable alcohol-based ingredients. Businesses need to consider the added risks of storage and processing these materials.”


This means that storing or using an alcohol-based hand sanitiser requires undergoing certain steps to minimize risks, which creates an extra hassle. For instance, they should be stored away from all heat and ignition sources due to the risk of explosion.

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Setting shots on fire is a great example illustrating that alcohol is highly flammable.

5. Skin problems

Alcohol dries out the skin. Many producers of hand sanitisers add glycerol in order to prevent drying out effect. Moreover, if the skin is already pre-irritated (for example, by small cuts and wounds), alcohol can cause a burning sensation because it activates the same nerve receptors in the skin that informs us a flame or boiling water is hot.

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6. Surface damage

Alcohol can also damage some surfaces. The use should be especially avoided on finished surfaces such as painted, lacquered, or varnished surfaces, including treated wood because alcohol can liquify varnishes or finishes. Alcohol also hardens rubber and deteriorates glue. Application on delicate or synthetic materials fabrics is also not recommended.

7. Alcohol poisoning

Alcohol-based sanitizers can cause alcohol poisoning if a person swallows too much of it. This is especially posing a danger to children, who might be attracted by scented, brightly coloured, or attractively packaged sanitisers.

French (l’Anses) and Dutch (NVIC) authorities have already reported a spike in poisoning. Most reports concerned children 0 to 4 years old who accessed the disinfectant and took one or more sips.

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Interested in responsible disinfection?

Watter® Hand Sanitiser and Watter® Surface Disinfectant do not contain alcohol, perfume, aldehydes, parabens, dyes or any substance identified as carcinogenic. Our products are hypo-allergenic, non-irritating to the skin, eyes or lungs, and do not produce any toxic vapour.


Contact us for more information on our products.

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