Formulation, Delivery and Packaging Considerations for Producing Hand Sanitizers this Cold and Flu Season
With cold and flu season right around the corner, CPG companies and retailers are stocking store shelves with hand sanitizers to meet customer demand. Designed for use after washing hands or for instances where soap and water are not available, hand sanitizers deliver convenient germ protection wherever consumers may be – from airplanes to doctor’s offices to school settings.
While the end goal for all hand sanitizer solutions remains the same – to kill bacteria and prevent the spread of diseases and contamination – the formulation, delivery and packaging options vary greatly.
Some customers’ want proven alcohol-based solutions, while others prefer non-alcohol hand sanitizers. More and more hand sanitizers are also featuring natural and moisturizing attributes. Consumers want these sanitizer formulations in a wide variety of delivery formats to meet their on-the-go lifestyles and preferences – from liquid pump sprays to foaming solutions to aerosol sprays and beyond.
Traditional alcohol-based hand sanitizers are the most commonly used substitute for soap and water. As the name implies, alcohol-based hand sanitizers feature alcohol as the active ingredient, mainly in the form of ethyl alcohol or isopropanol.
These sanitizers are well regarded for their effectiveness in killing germs, bacteria and most viruses. The alcohol also works immediately on the skin to deliver fast-drying properties. While this is a strong selling point, frequent users such as doctors, teachers and caregivers may find alcohol solutions to be drying on their skin after repeated uses.
In these instances, non-alcohol based formulations present an attractive alternative, as they do not strip away the skin oils that retain moisture. These non-alcohol hand sanitizers feature antimicrobials as the active ingredient for delivering effective germ protection without drying hands. Beyond their moisturizing benefits, the popularity of non-alcohol hand sanitizers has recently gained traction among consumers seeking minimalist formulas that are natural and free from synthetic or animal-derived ingredients.
Lastly, many hand sanitizer formulations are also now including additives to provide benefits such as fragrance and/or moisturizing oil.
Delivery and Packaging Considerations
Once the desired formulation is identified, product development and packaging experts must work closely to determine the appropriate delivery method for their hand sanitizer solutions. Portability is a key factor for hand sanitizers, as consumers want to bring their hand sanitizers wherever they go.
Travel-size hand sanitizer solutions come in a variety of formats, including liquid pump sprays, squeeze bottles, aerosol sprays and foam solutions. Their small size requires more accurate fill weights with much tighter tolerances, as well as smaller, travel-size packaging and dispensing components.
Liquid and aerosol formulation and filling specialists can help guide the research and development process and advise on selecting the proper components to meet the need for packages featuring as little as 5 ml of product and for valve sizes as small as 13 mm.
Other important packaging considerations include the choice of appropriate caps for product protection, proper actuator selection to ensure that the packaging works with the product formulation, presence of an expiration date to meet FDA requirements, as well as the overall packaging style and durability. Since the majority of hand sanitizers feature clear containers, it is especially critical to add the right type and level of additives to achieve the desired product clarity, color and formulation consistency.
Quality and documentation are paramount to ensuring the safety and effectiveness of OTC hand sanitizer products. As a result, it is critical to partner with an FDA-registered manufacturer of OTC drugs when developing hand sanitizer solutions.
Seasoned formulation and filling experts can guide companies through the product development process and advise on factors such as the level and types of actives, as well as ensure that proper process controls, documentation and testing are followed to meet stringent FDA requirements for hand sanitizers.
Regardless of final product features, packaging and product development experts must work closely with brand owners to achieve desired properties for their hand sanitizer solutions. In addition to delivering the product formulation and packaging options that customers are demanding, hand sanitizer products must meet stringent FDA and quality standards for easy grab-and-go germ protection.
About the Author
Matt Levesque is director of operations at Precise Packaging LLC. The world’s top brand names in personal care, household and OTC trust Precise Packaging for quality products, on-time delivery and competitive pricing.