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Liquid Hand Wash - Are they antibacterial in effect?

Hand hygiene is the single most effective way to prevent diarrhoea and various infections (reality check: according to various reports, diarrhoea happens to be the third leading cause of childhood mortality in India). Human skin provides a favourable environment for the existence and multiplication of a variety of microbes. The hands/skin come in contact with harmful bacteria/ germs while using common public places, public transport, polluted/contained environments, etc. Several products are available for hand hygiene: bar soap, liquid soap, gels, hand sanitisers and foams. The conventional toilet soap washes away the germs but does not kill them. Also, the soap itself can get contaminated with germs. Today, several hand-wash soaps are/claim to be antibacterial and at Consumer Voice we proceeded to test precisely this attribute with regard to liquid hand washes. We conducted antibacterial activity, ‘zone of inhibition’ and bacterial kill efficacy tests in the lab to judge the effectiveness of 10 liquid hand-wash brands in removal/ killing of microbes/germs.

Some of these liquid hand washes contain triclosan (TCN) or triclocarban (TCC), which are potent chemicals with antibacterial action. Generally, the antibacterial material is essentially of an aqueous solution of potassium soaps, sodium soaps, or both, made from oils, fatty acids or their mixture; it may be a homogeneous, clear, translucent or opaque liquid with good lathering and cleaning properties. It may also contain permissible synthetic detergents. They quickly form a rich lather while using with the water. The hand-wash liquid/antibacterial liquid Comparative Test material also generally contains perfumes for their acceptability among users.


Liquid hand-wash products are commonly known to be antibacterial/anti-germs. Most of the brands have declared their variants as providing protection from germs/killing germs/removing germs – this is clearly understood as being effective in fighting germs. In addition to antibacterial chemicals like TCC/TCN, some herbal ingredients are also equally effective in removing germs, as verified in the course of our laboratory tests. All the 10 brands were found to be effective in removing/killing germs.

 

Top Performers -

Non-Soap-based - Dettol
Soap-based - Hamam

Value for Money -

Non-Soap-based - Bacter Shield
Soap Based - Patanjali

Performance Tests

Antibacterial performance tests – specifically for antibacterial activity, ‘zone of inhibition’ and bacterial ‘rate of kill’ efficacy on contact – were carried out to judge the effectiveness of the liquid hand wash in removing bacteria.

  • Antibacterial activity is determined by comparing the effectiveness of antibacterial chemicals present in a certain quantity of liquid hand wash with specified maximum inhibition concentration. Besides, reduction in survivors of germicide determined in terms of
  • zone of inhibition of bacterial growth as well as
  • rate of kill against a specific organism is analysed for judging effectiveness. Zone of inhibition testing is a means to measure the ability of an antimicrobial agent to inhibit the growth of microorganisms.

Key Findings

  • Based on the overall test findings, in the non-soap-based liquid hand-wash category Dettol is the top performer; in the soap-based category it is Hamam.
  • The value-for-money brands are Bacter Shield in the non-soap-based category and Patanjali in the soap-based category.
  • All the tested brands can be recommended as they are specifically formulated to remove germs from hands.
  • All brands passed in the efficacy tests for antibacterial activity, zone of inhibition and contact kill.
  • Foam height was high in soap-based hand wash as compared to the non-soap-based varieties.
  • All brands passed in the efficacy tests for antibacterial activity, zone of inhibition and contact kill.
  • Foam height was high in soap-based hand wash as compared to the non-soap-based varieties.
  • Antibacterial/germicidal ingredient triclosan was found highest in Bacter Shield and Savlon but was well below the specified limit.
  • Bacter Shield and Palmolive performed highest in sensory panel tests.
  • Only one brand, Patanjali Herbal, claimed to be antibacterial and the tests confirmed it to be so. The rest of the brands did not claim to be antibacterial but were found effective in killing germs.

You can see list of our CV Comparative Test Liquid Hand Wash below, perform Side-by-Side comparison. If you need further help, do have a look at Conzumr Guides and Tips. Alternatively you can view all Liquid Hand Wash to choose your own favourites.


Hand hygiene is the single most effective way to prevent diarrhoea and various infections (reality check: according to various reports, diarrhoea happens to be the third leading cause of childhood mortality in India). Human skin provides a favourable environment for the existence and multiplication of a variety of microbes. The hands/skin come in contact with harmful bacteria/ germs while using common public places, public transport, polluted/contained environments, etc. Several products are available for hand hygiene: bar soap, liquid soap, gels, hand sanitisers and foams. The conventional toilet soap washes away the germs but does not kill them. Also, the soap itself can get contaminated with germs. Today, several hand-wash soaps are/claim to be antibacterial and at Consumer Voice we proceeded to test precisely this attribute with regard to liquid hand washes. We conducted antibacterial activity, ‘zone of inhibition’ and bacterial kill efficacy tests in the lab to judge the effectiveness of 10 liquid hand-wash brands in removal/ killing of microbes/germs.


Side by Side comparison

Series #
Liquid Hand Wash : Non-Soap-Based
External (Buy 1, get 1 free refill pack) : Non-Soap-Based
Hand Wash : Non-Soap-Based
Hand Wash : Non-Soap-Based
Masterchef's Hand Wash : Non-Soap-Based
Hand Wash : Non-Soap-Based
Sea Minerals Liquid Hand Wash : Non-Soap-Based
Hand Wash : Soap-Based
Hand Wash : Soap-Based
Hand Wash : Soap-Based
Liquid Hand Wash
External (Buy 1, get 1 free refill pack)
Hand Wash
Hand Wash
Masterchef's Hand Wash
Hand Wash
Sea Minerals Liquid Hand Wash
Hand Wash
Hand Wash
Hand Wash
Buy Now Liquid Hand Wash
Dettol ₹ 74
Refreshed 5 years ago
Buy Now External (Buy 1, get 1 free refill pack)
Reliance Retail ₹ 79
Refreshed 5 years ago
Buy Now Hand Wash
Bacter Shield ₹ 67
Refreshed 5 years ago
Buy Now Masterchef's Hand Wash
Godrej ₹ 89
Refreshed 5 years ago
Buy Now Hand Wash
Santoor ₹ 72
Refreshed 5 years ago
Buy Now Sea Minerals Liquid Hand Wash
Palmolive ₹ 95
Refreshed 5 years ago
Buy Now Hand Wash
Hamam ₹ 150
Refreshed 5 years ago
Buy Now Hand Wash
Lifebuoy ₹ 69
Refreshed 5 years ago
Buy Now Hand Wash
Patanjali ₹ 55
Refreshed 5 years ago
Highlights
Rank
Liquid Hand Wash : 1
External (Buy 1, get 1 free refill pack) : 2
Hand Wash : 2
Hand Wash : 3
Masterchef's Hand Wash : 4
Hand Wash : 4
Sea Minerals Liquid Hand Wash : 5
Hand Wash : 1
Hand Wash : 2
Hand Wash : 3
Total Score out of 100
Liquid Hand Wash : 91
External (Buy 1, get 1 free refill pack) : 90
Hand Wash : 90
Hand Wash : 89
Masterchef's Hand Wash : 88
Hand Wash : 88
Sea Minerals Liquid Hand Wash : 87
Hand Wash : 89
Hand Wash : 88
Hand Wash : 87
MRP (Rs)
Liquid Hand Wash : 74
External (Buy 1, get 1 free refill pack) : 79
Hand Wash : 67
Hand Wash : 74
Masterchef's Hand Wash : 89
Hand Wash : 72
Sea Minerals Liquid Hand Wash : 95
Hand Wash : 150
Hand Wash : 69
Hand Wash : 55
Net Weight (Grams)
Liquid Hand Wash : 215
External (Buy 1, get 1 free refill pack) : 250
Hand Wash : 215
Hand Wash : 220
Masterchef's Hand Wash : 300
Hand Wash : 225
Sea Minerals Liquid Hand Wash : 250
Hand Wash : 200
Hand Wash : 215
Hand Wash : 250
Unit Price (Rs) of 100 grams
Liquid Hand Wash : 34
External (Buy 1, get 1 free refill pack) : 32
Hand Wash : 31
Hand Wash : 34
Masterchef's Hand Wash : 30
Hand Wash : 32
Sea Minerals Liquid Hand Wash : 38
Hand Wash : 75
Hand Wash : 32
Hand Wash : 22
Best before (Months)
Liquid Hand Wash : 24
External (Buy 1, get 1 free refill pack) : 24
Hand Wash : 24
Hand Wash : 36
Masterchef's Hand Wash : 24
Hand Wash : 24
Sea Minerals Liquid Hand Wash : 24
Hand Wash : 18
Hand Wash : 24
Hand Wash : 24
Manufacturer’s Claim
Liquid Hand Wash : Protects against 100 illnesscausing germs
External (Buy 1, get 1 free refill pack) : Germ defense
Hand Wash : Protection from germs
Hand Wash : Protects from million germs
Masterchef's Hand Wash : Fights germs
Hand Wash : Germ protection
Sea Minerals Liquid Hand Wash : Removes 99.9% of germs; long-lasting anti-germs protection
Hand Wash : Removes germs
Hand Wash : Germ protection; 99.9% germ protection in just 10 seconds
Hand Wash : Antibacterial
Manufactured/ Marketed by
Liquid Hand Wash : Reckitt Benckiser (India) Ltd
External (Buy 1, get 1 free refill pack) : Reliance Retail Ltd
Hand Wash : VVF India (Ltd)
Hand Wash : ITC Ltd
Masterchef's Hand Wash : Godrej Consumer Products Ltd
Hand Wash : Wipro Enterprises Ltd
Sea Minerals Liquid Hand Wash : Colgate Palmolive (India) Ltd
Hand Wash : Hindustan Unilever Ltd
Hand Wash : Hindustan Unilever Ltd
Hand Wash : Patanjali Ayurved Ltd
For Physicochemical Parameters
Liquid Hand Wash : 20
External (Buy 1, get 1 free refill pack) : 20
Hand Wash : 20
Hand Wash : 20
Masterchef's Hand Wash : 20
Hand Wash : 20
Sea Minerals Liquid Hand Wash : 20
Hand Wash : 20
Hand Wash : 20
Hand Wash : 20
Antibacterial activity was observed to judge the product’s effectiveness in removal/killing of microbes/germs.
  • All the brands were effective in removing/killing germs significantly.
  • Liquid Hand Wash : 12
    External (Buy 1, get 1 free refill pack) : 12
    Hand Wash : 12
    Hand Wash : 12
    Masterchef's Hand Wash : 12
    Hand Wash : 12
    Sea Minerals Liquid Hand Wash : 12
    Hand Wash : 12
    Hand Wash : 12
    Hand Wash : 12

    The ‘zone of inhibition’ test is a fast, qualitative way to measure the ability of an antimicrobial agent to inhibit the growth of microorganisms. This test allows manufacturers of antimicrobial products to compare the inhibition levels of their product.

  • All of the brands cleared the test and received full score.
  • Liquid Hand Wash : 12
    External (Buy 1, get 1 free refill pack) : 12
    Hand Wash : 12
    Hand Wash : 12
    Masterchef's Hand Wash : 12
    Hand Wash : 12
    Sea Minerals Liquid Hand Wash : 12
    Hand Wash : 12
    Hand Wash : 12
    Hand Wash : 12

    This test was conducted to measure the rate of killing of bacteria.

  • All the brands cleared the test and received full score.
  • Liquid Hand Wash : 5.48
    External (Buy 1, get 1 free refill pack) : 5.72
    Hand Wash : 5.75
    Hand Wash : 2.95
    Masterchef's Hand Wash : 3.78
    Hand Wash : 3.6
    Sea Minerals Liquid Hand Wash : 2.59
    Hand Wash : 1.99
    Hand Wash : 1.11
    Hand Wash : 0.69

    The recommended limit by Indian Standards is a maximum two per cent for soap-based hand washes. A balanced mixture of total fatty matter (TFM) and synthetic detergent would be a good option but with the quantities of both meeting the BIS requirements.

    It may be noted that a high quantity of synthetic detergent in toiletries is associated with environmental hazards. Synthetic detergent must be absent in the composition of the product for it to qualify for Eco Mark labeling in India.

  • Bacter Shield (12.45 per cent) and Reliance (12.4 per cent) were found to have the highest quantity of synthetic detergent (these are non-soap-based and hence the two per cent limit is not applicable).
  • Lowest synthetic detergent was found in Patanjali (1.51 per cent), a herbal hand wash.
  • Liquid Hand Wash : 3.24
    External (Buy 1, get 1 free refill pack) : 2.71
    Hand Wash : 1.77
    Hand Wash : 3.06
    Masterchef's Hand Wash : 2.32
    Hand Wash : 2
    Sea Minerals Liquid Hand Wash : 2.35
    Hand Wash : 4.74
    Hand Wash : 4.51
    Hand Wash : 3.42

    For soap-based liquid hand washes – namely Lifebuoy and Hamam – TFM requirement is a minimum 15 per cent. There is no requirement for non-soap-based liquid hand wash.

  • All of the tested brands had less than 15 per cent of total fatty matter.
  • Hamam was found to have 14.74 per cent TFM and Lifebuoy 13.8 per cent.
  • Among non-soap-based brands, Dettol (8.51 percent) had the highest amount of TFM.
  • Liquid Hand Wash : 5.78
    External (Buy 1, get 1 free refill pack) : 5.77
    Hand Wash : 5.64
    Hand Wash : 6
    Masterchef's Hand Wash : 5.89
    Hand Wash : 5.9
    Sea Minerals Liquid Hand Wash : 5.86
    Hand Wash : 4.5
    Hand Wash : 4.78
    Hand Wash : 5.8

    The lower the insoluble material, the better is the product. Apart from adding on to the weight, insoluble materials also make a difference to the overall cleaning ability of the product.

  • Highest matter insoluble in alcohol was found in Hamam (1.58 per cent); the lowest was in Savlon (0.064 percent).
  • Liquid Hand Wash : 4.32
    External (Buy 1, get 1 free refill pack) : 3.84
    Hand Wash : 4.08
    Hand Wash : 4.8
    Masterchef's Hand Wash : 4.08
    Hand Wash : 4.08
    Sea Minerals Liquid Hand Wash : 3.84
    Hand Wash : 5.76
    Hand Wash : 5.76
    Hand Wash : 5.28

    The foam height is tested to measure the ability to generate lather, which is quite essential for washing and is expected by users.

  • Highest foam generation was in Hamam and Lifebuoy (both 240 mm) and lowest in Reliance and Palmolive (both 160 mm).
  • Liquid Hand Wash : 4
    External (Buy 1, get 1 free refill pack) : 4
    Hand Wash : 4
    Hand Wash : 4
    Masterchef's Hand Wash : 4
    Hand Wash : 4
    Sea Minerals Liquid Hand Wash : 4
    Hand Wash : 4
    Hand Wash : 4
    Hand Wash : 4

    The product shall remain a homogeneous stable composition and show no sign of separation or sedimentation when kept at 5 degree C for 24 hours.

  • All brands met the stability condition.
  • Liquid Hand Wash : 4
    External (Buy 1, get 1 free refill pack) : 4
    Hand Wash : 4
    Hand Wash : 4
    Masterchef's Hand Wash : 4
    Hand Wash : 4
    Sea Minerals Liquid Hand Wash : 4
    Hand Wash : 4
    Hand Wash : 4
    Hand Wash : 4

    It should be on the lower side.

  • It was not detected in any of the tested brands – they all received full score.
  • Sensory (organoleptic) panel tests were conducted to judge the products on these attributes: lather richness, fragrance, smoothness on use, washing ability, and free from irritation/allergy on regular and consistent use.

  • Palmolive and Bacter Shield topped in the overall sensory scores.
  • Score out of 15
    Liquid Hand Wash : 11.18
    External (Buy 1, get 1 free refill pack) : 10.92
    Hand Wash : 11.6
    Hand Wash : 10.75
    Masterchef's Hand Wash : 11.39
    Hand Wash : 11.53
    Sea Minerals Liquid Hand Wash : 11.6
    Hand Wash : 11.37
    Hand Wash : 11.31
    Hand Wash : 11.19
    For General Qualities
    Liquid Hand Wash : 4
    External (Buy 1, get 1 free refill pack) : 4
    Hand Wash : 4
    Hand Wash : 4
    Masterchef's Hand Wash : 4
    Hand Wash : 4
    Sea Minerals Liquid Hand Wash : 4
    Hand Wash : 4
    Hand Wash : 4
    Hand Wash : 4
    The package/container shall be legibly and indelibly marked with the following information:
  • Indication of the source of manufacture
  • Brand name of the material and recognised trade mark, if any
  • Volume of the material for liquid
  • Batch No. or Lot No. in code or otherwise
  • Month and year of manufacture
  • MRP
  • Best-before use
  • All the brands had provided the required information on the packaging.

    Liquid Hand Wash : 3 ml
    External (Buy 1, get 1 free refill pack) : 3 ml
    Hand Wash : 3 ml
    Hand Wash : 3 ml
    Masterchef's Hand Wash : 3 ml
    Hand Wash : 3 ml
    Sea Minerals Liquid Hand Wash : 3 ml
    Hand Wash : 3 ml
    Hand Wash : 3 ml
    Hand Wash : 3 ml
    As per Legal Metrology Rules, net quality of the product should be within the permissible limit for the declared value.
  • All the brands were found to be above the declared quantity of content and received full score.
  • Liquid Hand Wash : 2
    External (Buy 1, get 1 free refill pack) : 2
    Hand Wash : 2
    Hand Wash : 2
    Masterchef's Hand Wash : 2
    Hand Wash : 2
    Sea Minerals Liquid Hand Wash : 2
    Hand Wash : 2
    Hand Wash : 2
    Hand Wash : 2
    The container of antibacterial liquid hand wash should be tamperproof and well-closed, and made of glass or plastic. The container of liquid hand wash should be such that it is convenient to use; it may also be reusable or refillable..
  • All the brands used plastic containers/bottles.