An antibacterial sanitizer is a product which is designed to quickly sanitize an area, meaning that the bulk of germs are killed. Sanitizers do not create a sterile environment, but they certainly make a space cleaner, and they can prevent the spread of disease. Medical facilities tend to keep ample supplies of antibacterial sanitizer on hand, with staffers using sanitizers between patients to prevent the transfer of disease, and people can also use these products at home.
Sanitizers are usually designed to be used on surfaces, rather than on the body, like antiseptics. Antibacterial sanitizer may come in a spray bottle which is used to spritz an area before wiping it down, and it can also come in the form of swabs and wipes which are intended for disposable use. Medical facilities also purchase large containers of concentrated sanitizer which can be added to mop water, laundry loads, and other cleaning solutions to remove bacteria efficiently.
It is also possible to find antibacterial hand sanitizer, which usually comes in the form of a gel which is rubbed briskly on the hands. The gel dries quickly, so it is not necessary to rinse or wipe it off, although some people dislike the residue which can be left behind by a hand sanitizing product. Wipes for hand sanitizing are also available, with some companies adding moisturizers so that frequent users do not end up with dry, chapped hands as a result of using sanitizer on a regular basis.
In a clinical environment, using an antibacterial sanitizer can be very important. Typically, all of the objects in a clinic or hospital are designed to be quickly wiped down between patients, with things like linens and exam table covers being replaced. While the sanitizer will not remove all germs, it will usually eliminate around 99% of them, making the passage of germs from patient to patient less likely.
The issue with sanitizers is that when they are used regularly, they can promote the growth of resistant bacteria. When 99% of the bacteria in an area are killed off, this creates a great opportunity for other bacteria to thrive. The bacteria which are not killed may go on to develop large colonies which cannot be killed by an antibacterial sanitizer, resulting in the spread of resistant bacteria through a facility. For this reason, some facilities like to change brands frequently, and use very aggressive products.