Thanks to a pesky old pandemic, being germ-aware and maintaining hygiene safety has a priority in our life like never before.

Masks, soaps, sanitisers and, for some bizarre reason, packets of toilet paper have been flying off the shelves. However, as consumer watchdog CHOICE has recently discovered, not all hygiene products are created equal.

In order to be effective a hand sanitiser must contain between 60 percent and 80 percent alcohol, depending on the type used. If a sanitiser product claims to be made using the World Health Organisation (WHO) formula then it must contain at least 80 percent ethanol or 75 percent isopropyl alcohol.

After a community tip-off, a sample of hand sanitiser from retailer Mosaic Brands has failed in a CHOICE commissioned lab test when it showed an alcohol content of only 23 percent.

A sample of hand sanitiser from retailer Mosaic Brands has failed in a CHOICE commissioned lab test following a community tip off.

“‘AIR Clean Instant Hand Sanitizer’ sold by Mosaic Brands has been withdrawn from sale. This is following a CHOICE investigation and an independent lab test that found a sample of the product had an alcohol content of only 23 percent – well below the amount of alcohol required to be effective,” says Erin Turner, Director of Campaigns at CHOICE.

“It’s very worrying that CHOICE has found a hand sanitiser sample with only 23% alcohol, when it should have between 60 and 80 percent, depending on the formula.”

CHOICE commissioned the test after receiving multiple community tip offs concerned with the quality of the Mosaic-sold products.

Mosaic is the company behind fashion retailers Katies, Rockmans, Rivers and Noni B and was earlier this year criticised by the consumer advocate for engaging in COVID-19 panic marketing and later failing to deliver on their promises.

However Mosaic has released a statement rejecting the CHOICE findings.

Spokesperson, Anthony Tregoning has declared: “We dispute CHOICE’s assertions as we have testing documentation from the supplier that shows the alcohol content of the hand sanitiser is not in line with CHOICE’s claim and is within the range to eliminate 99.8% of germs.

The statement also fears that CHOICE’s statement is “irresponsible”, claiming that it risks “alarming buyers of the product unnecessarily if these further tests confirm that the alcohol level is as stated in the documentation we have received from the supplier.”

Consumers believing they’re using a safe product remain vulnerable to germ infection when the alcohol content of sanitisers is insufficient.

There are steps you can take if you’re worried about whether your hand sanitiser is effective.

Safe sanitising tips

1. Preference soap and water

Hand sanitiser shouldn’t be your first choice – if you have access to soap and water it will be the most effective way to eliminate germs, provided you follow guidelines for effective handwashing.

2. Is it sticky?

Hand sanitiser must typically contain between 60 and 80 percent alcohol (depending on type) to be effective. If you place sanitiser in your hands and it has a sticky texture and doesn’t evaporate as you rub – you may have a dodgy sanitiser. A sticky texture indicates that the formula has too much gel substance and not enough alcohol.

3. Tell someone

If you’re worried about your sanitiser you should tell the retailer. Unhappy with the response? CHOICE wants to hear from you.

“Always use soap and water where you can and avoid sanitiser that feels sticky,”

“It’s frustrating that essential products can have a question mark over their safety. Products can sit on shelves for months or years before problems are identified. If you’re unsure about the quality of essentials during COVID-19, please tell us at CHOICE and we’ll fight for fast action. Business as usual can’t be accepted when it comes to public safety during this pandemic,” says Erin Turner.

“This investigation was only possible because of the CHOICE community.”