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There’s no need to panic: The best way to steer clear of cold and flu—including coronavirus—is also the easiest. Simply wash your hands with soap and hot water for 20 seconds (about the length of “Happy Birthday”), according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and avoid touching your face. But if you’re nowhere near a sink, a hand sanitizer can, well, come in handy.

For it to be effective, you’ll need one that’s at least 60 percent alcohol. Just apply it all over your hands and rub them together until they’re dry. If you spend your commute grabbing a subway pole, find yourself at the airport often, work in a school or any other crowded place, or want to be a little extra-cautious, it’s good to throw a sanitizer in your bag both for peace of mind and your health. (And while you’re at it, disinfect your phone, too—it’s basically an extension of your hand, after all.) Consider one of these options to keep germs at bay.

Byrdie hand sanitizers
Birdie 2-Pack, Olika ($18)

Yes, this bird-shaped pick is delightful, but it’s also a bacteria-killing spray (with up to 125 uses!) that smells like lemon, spearmint, and bergamot. What’s not to love?


Organic Hand Sanitizer, Dr. Bronner’s ($5)

For those who want to keep things chemical-free, Dr. Bronner’s organic sanitizer is perfect. It eliminates harmful germs with just ethyl alcohol, water, lavender oil, and glycerin—while leaving behind a fragrant lavender cloud. 

Hand Sanitizer Spray, The Honest Company ($6)

This simple spray—available in lavender, grapefruit, unscented, and coastal surf—contains aloe to keep your hands soft and hydrated. Consider it a winter wonder.

Power Mist Hand Sanitizer, Touchland ($12)

Self-described as the “next generation of hand sanitizers,” this tidy, sleek pick is meant to be tucked into a back pocket and taken on the go. Choose from eight colorful options, all of which are as hydrating as they are disinfecting.

Refresher, Jao ($10)

This formula from Jao acts as both a disinfectant and an aromatherapy treatment in one bottle. It includes a mix of essential oils, like lavender, tea tree, and eucalyptus, and yet it still kills some of the most likely contaminants, such as salmonella. 


Hydra-Hand Sanitiser, Grown Alchemist ($20)

The hyaluronic acid, coconut oil, and ethyl alcohol in this sanitizer fight bacteria—and come in a pretty amber glass package. As a bonus, sweet orange and almond oils impart the most delicious, luxe citrus scent. 

Purif-i Sanitizing Hand Spray, Susanne Kaufmann ($24)

This Austrian-made tonic kills germs with vegetable alcohol, while treating skin with moisturizing silk proteins. The blend also features arnica, which feels wildly refreshing on tired hands.

Rinse-Free Hand Wash, Byredo ($35)

You certainly don’t need a $35 hand sanitizer, but if you feel like treating yourself, it isn’t the worst idea. This alcohol-based formula zaps bacteria while simultaneously hydrating and imparting a fresh, heady jasmine scent.

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