Wondering where the acrid smell of disinfectants comes from and why some disinfectants smell strangely fermented?
We clarify why many products in the field of hygiene smell unpleasant, which ingredients are responsible for this – and why the disinfectant from WIESENBERG is a welcome exception.
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Wondering where the acrid smell of disinfectants comes from and why some disinfectants smell strangely fermented? We clarify why many products in the field of hygiene smell unpleasant, which ingredients are responsible for this – and why the disinfectant from WIESENBERG is a welcome exception.
Where does the unpleasant smell of disinfectant for hands come from?
Sure, hygiene is important, but does the smell of disinfectants always have to be so acrid and unpleasant? Spoiler: it doesn’t have to. But more about that later. In fact, the acrid scent is usually due to the ingredient alcohol. Ethanol – also contained in classic luxury foods such as beer and wine – or isopropanol, which is also used in industry, cleaning and medical practices, are popular hand disinfectants.
Ethanol is mostly obtained by yeast fermentation. Corona and the suddenly very high demand for ethanol have enabled some distilleries and breweries to expand their business. The potable alcohol produced in these plants could also be made into disinfectant by distilling it into a higher percentage alcohol during this shortage. The residues of the aromatic substances then give rise to the fermented odor in disinfectants that you really don’t want on your hands. Nevertheless, these disinfectants are effective. However, the ethanol shortage that came as a surprise at the beginning of the Corona crisis is now a thing of the past. And most disinfectants now smell primarily of pure, clinical ethanol.
What exactly does an effective sanitizer for your hands contain anyway? Here is a listing:
Ethanol or isopropanol is the active ingredient for most hand sanitizers. It takes a high percentage of alcohol for a product to be effective against bacteria, viruses and/or fungi. Therefore, a high alcohol content in a disinfectant is positive. In fact, you should make sure it’s there.
Lemon oil, tea tree oil, lavender oil and others act against bacteria and viruses in addition to alcohol. They also activate and soothe the skin, protecting it from irritation.
Glycerol or glycerine is not necessarily a component of disinfectants. It is mainly used for disinfectant gels and moisturizes your hands.
Surfactants are particularly important in the production process. They reduce surface tension, allowing chemicals that could not otherwise be mixed together, such as water and oil.
Thickening agents give disinfectant gels their texture, making the product easy to rub in and spread on all sides of the hands.
Does high-quality disinfection really have to smell like alcohol?
To some extent, high-quality disinfection must actually smell like alcohol if it is an alcohol-based disinfectant. But if you can’t stand the smell of alcohol, there is an alternative. Ethanol- or isopropanol-based disinfectants – unless they contain fragrances – should smell like alcohol, however. Otherwise, it can be assumed that the product is less effective.
Is the smell of disinfectants harmful?
When it comes to whether disinfectant odor is harmful, quantity matters. In the case of hand disinfectants, it is recommended to use preparations containing ethanol rather than their isopropanol counterpart, as isopropanol behaves more aggressively towards the skin. Surface disinfectants containing aldehyde, hydrogen peroxide or chlorine are particularly harmful to the respiratory tract. If one is regularly exposed to these vapors, there is a long-term risk of developing lung disease. Therefore, when using these disinfectants should be well ventilated. There is no reason to panic if you use it infrequently, but you should be careful not to be exposed to these fumes too often.
Are there disinfectants without odor?
There are disinfectants without odor. These products are manufactured without alcohol, which in current disinfectants guarantees effectiveness against viruses and high protection against infection. In alcohol-free disinfectants, hypochlorous acid is often used as an active ingredient, which is a good alternative for allergy sufferers. Nevertheless, we recommend an alcohol-based disinfectant for non-allergy sufferers.
Can you get addicted to the smell of disinfectant?
Dry alcoholics in particular are always asking us if the smell of sanitizer can encourage relapse or even create a new addiction. In fact, the addiction memory factor is not without. After all, the smell of alcohol is associated with a certain feeling for the addict or for the formerly addicted person. Experts have not yet identified any above-average risk, but mindfulness and reflection are never amiss in this matter.
Apart from that, almost every smell can be addictive if it is exaggerated or if one gets used to it. An addiction develops when these scents are linked to certain experiences. With habituation, dopamine is released when the scent is perceived, which is then experienced as a feeling of happiness. Through this kind of reward effect, even perfume can be addictive.
Soothing disinfectant from WIESENBERG
We at WIESENBERG want to make hygiene an experience and have therefore put all our know-how into our unique formulation. Our product not only cleans your hands, but also provides a soft skin feeling thanks to unique care active ingredient. Another plus is the fragrance, which softens the unloved smell of alcohol and replaces it with a hint of freshness. Try our products and treat yourself to a cleansing feel-good moment.