Alcohol-based handrubs (liquid or gel) are designed to be used without water. They should be used in preference to soap and water for hand hygiene, except when hands are visibly soiled, after using the toilet, before handling food or eating, when the presence of norovirus (or any pathogen resistant to alcohol) is known or suspected.
Hands must be dry before using alcohol-based handrub.1
When used correctly, alcohol-based handrubs designed for routine hand hygiene or surgical hand hygiene are more effective than plain soap or antimicrobial soap and water against many pathogenic microorganisms on hands.
For routine hand-hygiene, use alcohol-based rubs with an alcohol concentration of between 60% and 80% volume per volume ethanol or equivalent and meet the current relevant standard for bactericidal effect of hygienic handrub.
For surgical hand hygiene, use an alcohol-based handrub intended for presurgical hand antisepsis and registered by Therapeutic Goods Administration for that purpose, to ensure it meets the current relevant standard for surgical hand disinfection.
Alcohol-based rubs should be placed at the point of care and also accessible in all areas of the practice, including at reception, to encourage use by administrative staff and patients as well as health professionals. They are also suitable for offsite use (eg during home visits).
Practices must use only products that are approved by the Therapeutic Goods Administration for use as hand hygiene products for healthcare settings. Other alcohol-based handrubs or hand washes marketed as sanitisers for general consumer use are not appropriate for use in clinical settings.
Alcohol-based handrubs must always be used according to product directions.