The Best Travel Hand Sanitizer for On-the-go Protection

Touchland Power Mist comes in over a dozen delicious scents and leaves your hands feeling nourished.

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Various travel size hand sanitizers
Courtesy of Retailers as Credited

When you’re on the go, hand sanitizer is the next best thing to soap and water — particularly on planes, trains, buses, and any other mode of public transportation. Planes harbor an enormous amount of germs, especially in areas like tray tables, seatbelts, and seat-back pockets, and they notoriously have low humidity, which affects flyers’  mucus levels and makes them more susceptible to illness

Diligent use of hand sanitizer helps lessen your risk of being stuck in a hotel room feeling under the weather. Dr. Dendy Engelman of New York’s Shafer Clinic says to look for products with “70 percent ethyl alcohol or higher” and recommends our top hand sanitizer pick, Touchland Power Mist, for knocking out germs without dealing with that cheap-liquor smell. “One of my favorite hand sanitizer brands, Touchland, designs TSA-approved products that are perfect for travel,” says Engelman.

If you prefer a gel formula, fragrance-free products, or need more size variety, we have plenty of other options that go above and beyond the 60 percent alcohol that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends should be in a hand sanitizer.

Here are the best hand sanitizers to take on every trip:

Best Overall: Touchland Power Mist

Touchland Hand Sanitizer

Amazon

Why We Love It: With 15 incredible scents to choose from, this highly moisturizing sanitizer comes in everyone’s favorite fragrance.

What to Consider: It’s more expensive than most hand sanitizer and is only available in 1-ounce bottles.

You’re probably used to sanitizers drying out your hands, cracking your nails, and generally being really rough on your skin, but Touchland Power Mist is here to change the game. The mist spray contains 70 percent ethyl alcohol but also provides your hands with a dose of aloe vera for hydration, nourishing lemon essential oil, and radish root ferment for extra antimicrobial action. The formula is vegan, fast-absorbing, and doesn’t leave your hand with that sticky feeling that sometimes comes post-sanitizing. But our favorite thing about Touchland Power Mist is the huge variety of scents and eye-popping colors you get to choose from. Whether you want something fruity like watermelon, citrus, or apple; a floral like lavender or rosewater; or even a fresh, minty smell, Touchland has a fragrance for you. According to Engleman, “their newest scent, Beach Coco, smells like a tropical getaway on its own!”

Apart from making a product that doesn’t smell like straight-up rubbing alcohol, the brand can help improve your vacation life with its travel kit that includes a zippered “pouchette” for clipping your sanitizer onto a purse, backpack, or suitcase. Nylon lanyards and a fun, kid-friendly Disney bundle with pop-art Mickey Mouse designs are also available.

Sizes: 1 ounce

Best Budget: Purell Advanced Hand Sanitizer Refreshing Gel Clean Scent

Hand Sanitizer

Amazon

Why We Love It: Purell is a classic option with a great reputation — you can’t go wrong picking up a six-pack to have on hand while packing for future trips. 

What to Consider: It smells pretty generic but does the trick.

Purell Advanced Hand Sanitizer is ubiquitous for a reason. Many hand sanitizers will leave your hands feeling sticky — like you washed your hands with just soap and no water — but Purell provides a genuinely clean feel. It contains 70 percent ethyl alcohol as the active ingredient, which is 10 percent more than the CDC recommends to get the job done. Purell’s hand sanitizer also has the addition of denaturants to discourage misuse of the product. These bad-tasting ingredients can also sway a child’s accidental interest in the product, which can sometimes be piqued by the fruity smells and bright colors of certain sanitizers. Plus, this hand sanitizer comes in everything from tiny 1-ounce bottles with hooks that are perfect for slipping into carry-ons to 1-liter bottles you can store at home and use to refill your travel supply

Sizes: 1 to 33.8 ounces

Best Organic: Lemyn Organics Medical Grade Hand Sanitizer

Lemyn Hand Sanitizer

Lemyn Organics

Why We Love It: This sanitizer has a clean citrus scent.

What to Consider: The bottle occasionally leaks in warm temperatures.

A terrific organic option is the Lemyn Organics Medical Grade Hand Sanitizer. The gel sanitizer uses an organic sugarcane based ethyl alcohol at 70 percent but leaves a fresh citrus scent and smooth feel on hands without drying them out. People with sensitive skin especially may find their match in this hypoallergenic sanitizer, as it contains aloe, orange extract, and avocado, jojoba, and sunflower oils to soothe and hydrate. Vitamin E and glycerin also help moisturize your hands. In addition to it being vegan and cruelty-free, Lemon’s sanitizer meets the standards for healthcare providers and hospitals. It comes in a TSA-friendly 2-ounce size, an 8-ounce bottle, and a 12-ounce bottle with a pump. 

Sizes: 2 to 12 ounces 

Best Fragrance-free: Breathe Hand Sanitizer

Breathe Hand Sanitizer

Breathe

Why We Love It: It doesn’t contain flammable propellants that are in some aerosol sprays and harm the environment.

What to Consider: It doesn’t come in sizes bigger than 5 ounces. 

Breathe Hand Sanitizer is a simple way to quickly and evenly mist the proper portion of germ-fighting sanitizer onto your hands. Whether it’s cleaning products or sanitizer, Breathe products come in continuous spray aerosol cans powered by compressed nitrogen instead of the flammable propellants that prompt many eco-conscious consumers to avoid aerosols. The spray consists of 75 percent alcohol and is designed with a child-resistant twist-lock. If you hate the traditional smell of hand sanitizer, you’ll appreciate that this quick-drying formula is also fragrance-free.

Sizes: 1 to 5 ounces

Best Size Options: Clorox Liquid Hand Sanitizing Spray

Clorox Hand Sanitizer

Amazon

Why We Love It: It has a classic clean smell and comes in spray and gel options as well as a variety of sizes. 

What to Consider: There are no additional scents to choose from.

There’s no denying that Clorox is a classic go-to when it comes to keeping things clean, and its hand sanitizer is just as reliable. Clorox’s brand of sanitizer is made with 71 percent ethyl alcohol — containing no bleach, of course — and there’s no sticky, greasy feeling left behind. Just clean hands and the pleasant smell (and moisturizing power) of aloe vera. It comes in a vast array of spray and gel sizes for travel, at-home, and refill use as well as individually wrapped hand wipes in a variety of box sizes. On top of having the Clorox hand sanitizer with you while you travel, it’s never a bad idea to also keep Clorox wipes with you to clean some of the most contaminated and germ-filled areas on a plane such as armrests, seatbelts, front pockets, and tray tables. 

Sizes: 2 to 33.8 ounces

Tips for Buying Hand Sanitizer

Examine the ingredients

Always look at the ingredients before purchasing a hand sanitizer to determine effectiveness. Some professionals say over 60 percent alcohol is acceptable, but Dr. Dendy Engelman advises that a product containing at least 70 percent alcohol is ideal. 

Choose a consistency you like

From mists to heavier sprays and gels, there are plenty of different types of hand sanitizer to choose from. You should pick yours based on what will be the most convenient and pleasant for your own personal use. Experiment with different consistencies to find one that suits you. No matter what type of dispenser you choose, just like when washing your hands, be sure to rub your hands together for enough time to let the formula fully soak in. The CDC recommends rubbing your “hands together until they feel dry.” This should take about 20 seconds.   

Frequently Asked Questions
  • Does hand sanitizer expire?

    Yes, it definitely does. As Dr. Karen Dobos, professor in the Department of Microbiology, Immunology, and Pathology at Colorado State University, explained on Health.com,  “the concentration of the two active ingredients, alcohol and hydrogen peroxide, decreases over time. The alcohol concentration decreases through evaporation, and the hydrogen peroxide concentration decreases through conversion to water." Pay attention to the expiration date, keep your unopened bottles of hand sanitizer in a cool, dry place, and aim to replace them every 12-18 months at least.

  • Can I bring hand sanitizer on a plane?

    Yes, as long as you abide by liquid size regulations. In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Federal Aviation Administration allows hand sanitizer up to 12 ounces per passenger, but we recommend staying below the 3-ounce maximum for general liquids just to be safe.

Why Trust Travel + Leisure

Jess Kelly is a travel journalist and photographer living in New York. She’s written for over 10 different local publications throughout New York, the Huffington Post, Dame Traveler, Elite Traveler, World Traveler, Condé Nast Traveler, Insider, Food & Wine, Cosmopolitan, Food 52, AAA Northeast, Eater, Lonely Planet, and more.

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