This is how Erisan Pro revolutionized hand hygiene 30 years ago

The term ‘käsidesi’ (hand sanitizer) has become familiar to all Finns. Kiilto introduced the term to the market for the first time in 1994. Now, 30 years later, Erisan Pro Hand Disinfectant is still one of the most popular and trusted products in healthcare.

The story of hand sanitizer begins in the early 90s, when alternatives to isopropanol-based hand sanitizers for healthcare were sought. Isopropanol was effective in its intended use, but it also had significant drawbacks: it irritated the skin and had an unpleasant smell.

Due to this, isopropanol-based hand sanitizers remained second to the most common way of maintaining hand hygiene, washing with water and soap, for an extended period of time.

In practice, handwashing was not the best solution. Going to a water point and drying hands takes a lot of time, especially when busy nurses need to take care of hand hygiene numerous times a day. The need for a better alternative was clear in the hectic nursing work.

A fast and pleasant way to maintain hand hygiene

Chemist Kristiina Wesolovski, who studied hospital hygiene, initiated the idea of ​​replacing isopropanol with ethanol. Compared to isopropanol, the characteristic smell and irritability of ethanol were much milder. In addition to the new active ingredient, the composition aimed to incorporate skin-soothing ingredients, ensuring that the ethanol-based hand sanitizer would be gentle on the skin.

The novelty was launched in 1994 under the name Erisan Hand Disinfectant, nicknamed ‘käsidesi’ (hand sanitizer). It was developed at Eri Oy, which later became part of Kiilto.

Thus, Erisan Pro Hand Disinfectant was created. It was the first ethanol-based hand sanitizer in Finland and was well received among healthcare professionals. The quickly popularized hand sanitizer soon became a household name, familiar for everyone.

Critical to the success of the new product was that Erisan Pro Hand Disinfectant was an easy, fast, and nurturing product. For example, it dries the skin less than washing hands with water.

Proven effective in infection control

The pleasantness of use was the starting point for product development of the new hand sanitizer, but it also had to meet the safety and quality criteria required in healthcare. Erisan Pro Hand Disinfectant was tested and approved for hygienic hand disinfection requirements from the beginning.

“Product development actively followed hospital hygiene research. For example, the Pitet study conducted in Switzerland demonstrated the importance of hand sanitizers in preventing infections in a way that also helped disseminate guidelines and practices for hand hygiene to hygiene nurses and infectious disease physicians in Finland,” describes Juha Issakainen, Kiilto’s product development manager.

Over the years, criteria related to hand hygiene were updated, and Erisan Pro Hand Disinfectant’s composition was improved to meet new requirements.

Kiilto’s environmental goals set a new direction for product development

When Kiilto launched its Promise to the Environment, products in the range began to be examined more from the perspective of sustainability as well. Oili Kallatsa, Kiilto’s director of research, development, and innovation, recalls how the strategic change was reflected in product development.

“We initiated several major projects with the aim of finding ways to reduce the environmental impact of our hygiene solutions. Established and functional products are not changed lightly. Our product development experts had to thoroughly explore various possibilities, such as plant-based raw materials and recycled materials in packaging.”

The strategic direction for betterment of the environment was soon evident in Erisan Pro Hand Disinfectant as well. In 2022, their active ingredient was switched to bioethanol, significantly improving the products’ environmental footprint.

“The transition to bioethanol was a long and carefully prepared process. The bioethanol suitable for production must be of high quality, genuinely responsible, and its supply reliability must be at a good level,” explains Issakainen.

Ready to find new ways for good hand hygiene in the future as well

Erisan Pro Hand Disinfectant is an example of how prevailing practices can be influenced. Hand sanitizer is particularly effective as a means of infection control when hands are not visibly or noticeably soiled. Thus, handwashing and hand sanitizing complement each other today.

However, Issakainen reminds us that effective products are only one part of good hand hygiene.

“The most significant factor is how hand hygiene is implemented in practice. For example, Kiilto Pro Hygimon helps monitor and measure how hand sanitizers are used in healthcare facilities. This can identify risk situations where improvement is possible.”

As innovative methods emerge, one must not forget to continue developing long-trusted products. So, the story of hand sanitizer, or ‘käsidesi’, is not over yet.

“We ensure that our products continue to meet emerging needs. Quality, safety, and nurturing qualities have always been things we don’t compromise on. Now, significant emphasis is also placed on environmental impact,” sums up Issakainen.

A short history of Erisan Pro Käsidesi hand disinfectant

  • Erisan Pro Käsidesi was born in the 90s out of the need to find a more pleasant alternative to isopropanol-based hand sanitizers.
  • The innovation was easy, fast, and pleasant to use. The product quickly gained great popularity in healthcare settings.
  • Käsidesi soon became a generic term for hand disinfectants.
  • The composition of Erisan Pro Käsidesi hand disinfectant has been updated over time to meet the industry’s evolving needs.
  • The latest significant change occurred when the product’s active ingredient was switched to plant-based bioethanol.