Choosing hand sanitisers and surface disinfectants to use during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic

Latest advice on keeping workplaces safe from COVID-19

This page is up to date with working safely guidance in England. You can check the most up to date measures on GOV.UK. There are different regulations and guidance for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

The latest advice on continuing to keep workplaces safe will help you assess the risks and reduce COVID-19 transmission. This includes links to advice from public health bodies and other government departments on measures not implemented by HSE.

Hand sanitisers are an alternative to using soap and water to wash your hands.

Employers may choose to provide hand sanitiser and surface disinfectants for their workers or others to use during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Hand sanitisers and surface disinfectants are biocidal products. They are regulated by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).

You should make sure any products you use are suitable for your needs.

There are many alcohol- and non-alcohol-based hand sanitisers and surface disinfectants available in the UK. HSE cannot recommend any specific products.

Identifying suitable products

Biocidal products (such as hand sanitisers and surface disinfectants) are regulated in the UK under the Biocidal Products Regulation (BPR). The aim is to make sure that they are used properly and do not harm people, pets or the wider environment.

As this process is at an early stage for hand sanitisers and disinfectants, this means that some products need to be authorised before they can be supplied or used in the UK, while for others this won’t be needed yet.

HSE assesses those disinfectant products that need authorisation under the BPR for potential risks to people and the wider environment.

HSE does not carry out an assessment of individual disinfectant products that do not yet need authorisation under the BPR.

This does not mean you can’t use these products, but they won’t appear in the list below. For example, you can supply and use ethanol products in the UK even though HSE has yet to assess or authorise them.

You can find products that HSE has authorised in the following list. We recommend that you check it regularly:

UK authorised biocidal products

Hand sanitisers are listed under Product Type 1. Surface disinfectants are listed under Product Types 2, 3 and/or 4 depending on the area of use. These include general surfaces, areas relating to animals and food areas.

There are many alcohol- and non-alcohol-based hand sanitisers and surface disinfectants on the UK market.

You should base the use of any of these products on your own risk assessment.

Employers should also read any sector specific guidance. This could include, for example, guidance from the Department of Health and Social Care or the Department for Education.

Safety and effectiveness of products

It is always the responsibility of product manufacturers and suppliers to make sure that their products are safe and effective. This applies whether or not HSE authorises a product and includes meeting any necessary testing standards.

HSE recommends that you discuss your requirements with product manufacturers to make sure a product meets your needs.

Product manufacturers and suppliers are also responsible for providing information and instructions for the user on the product label.

You must always make sure that you read and understand any labels before using a product. You should also follow the label instructions carefully to make sure you are using the product safely and effectively.

You can read more  on our site about the BPR regulatory requirements for supplying and manufacturing hand sanitiser and surface disinfectants during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

We review and update this page regularly to reflect any changes in guidance.

Page last reviewed: 19 January 2022

Next review due: 30 January 2022