Violation #3: Using the Wrong Hand Sanitizer

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Hand Sanitizer

Hand Sanitizer

One of the most common mistakes made in the animal shelter environment is that the wrong type or concentration of hand sanitizer is used. Improper usage, improper concentration available to staff, or inadequate usage of hand sanitizer can all lead to a significant spike in disease spread.

All hand sanitizer units available to staff and volunteers should be between 65% and 90% alcohol for proper disinfection. Hand sanitizer units that go below or above the suggested concentrations can either be too diluted or not diluted enough which can make them not work.

I have noticed an increase in animal shelters wanting to use other hand sanitizer brands that are not alcohol based for client convenience. The most common hand sanitizer being used by low income shelters is quaternary ammonium compounds.

Recent studies have suggested that hand sanitizers which are not alcohol based may provide inadequate disinfection against canine parvovirus and feline calicivirus. Furthermore, prolonged exposure to quaternary ammonium compounds in cats have been linked to health issues such as cornea ulcers.


It is advised that people wash their hands in place of sanitizing their hands if they are allergic or cannot be exposed to the alcohol in common hand sanitizer brands. Sanitizing your hands or washing your hands should always take place prior to and after exposure to animals or any items that animals might have touched. It is especially important that you make sure even the people who come in to socialize animals and prospective adopters follow this protocol.


The best practice is to purchase hand sanitizer for your shelter that meet these requirements and prevent people from bringing in their own bottles of hand sanitizer. One bottle should be anchored to the wall in every single room to advocate constant usage and to prevent having to move around trying to find a bottle. Posters or guidelines should be available for all staff and volunteers to read and refer back to as needed.

One of the most common mistakes made in the animal shelter environment is that the wrong type or concentration of hand sanitizer is used. Improper usage, improper concentration available to staff, or inadequate usage of hand sanitizer can all lead to a significant spike in disease spread.

All hand sanitizer units available to staff and volunteers should be between 65% and 90% alcohol for proper disinfection. Hand sanitizer units that go below or above the suggested concentrations can either be too diluted or not diluted enough which can make them not work.

I have noticed an increase in animal shelters wanting to use other hand sanitizer brands that are not alcohol based for client convenience. The most common hand sanitizer being used by low income shelters is quaternary ammonium compounds.

Recent studies have suggested that hand sanitizers which are not alcohol based may provide inadequate disinfection against canine parvovirus and feline calicivirus. Furthermore, prolonged exposure to quaternary ammonium compounds in cats have been linked to health issues such as cornea ulcers.

It is advised that people wash their hands in place of sanitizing their hands if they are allergic or cannot be exposed to the alcohol in common hand sanitizer brands. Sanitizing your hands or washing your hands should always take place prior to and after exposure to animals or any items that animals might have touched. It is especially important that you make sure even the people who come in to socialize animals and prospective adopters follow this protocol.

The best practice is to purchase hand sanitizer for your shelter that meet these requirements and prevent people from bringing in their own bottles of hand sanitizer. One bottle should be anchored to the wall in every single room to advocate constant usage and to prevent having to move around trying to find a bottle. Posters or guidelines should be available for all staff and volunteers to read and refer back to as needed.

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