A Handy Guide to Sanitizers: Six Things You Should Know

Updated: Jan 22, 2021

Just as handwashing is advised to prevent spreading the flu and common cold, maintaining proper hand hygiene is recommended by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). When on the go and soap and water are not close at hand, alcohol-based hand sanitizers are a suitable alternative to clean hands. Here’s some quick information to keep in mind when choosing and using hand sanitizers.

Are All Hand Sanitizers Effective?

The CDC advises individuals to use hand sanitizers comprised of at least 60 percent alcohol (the higher the alcohol percentage, the more effective the sanitizer will be). Whether it’s a gel-based or liquid spray sanitizer, it should be applied thoroughly to all surfaces of the hands and fingers and rubbed until all surface area is dry.

What Hand Sanitizers Should I Avoid?

Not all hand sanitizers are created equal, and the CDC recommends avoiding sanitizers that are labeled as “alcohol-free.” In addition, the Food and Drug Administration cautions against the use of sanitizers that contain the methanol and 1-propanol alcohols, as they can prove to be toxic to humans. Methanol, also known as methyl alcohol or wood alcohol, and is used to make antifreeze and rocket fuel. The CDC has reported that individuals have died or been blinded after ingesting this substance.

A complete list of hand sanitizers to avoid can be found here.

Is It Safe to Make Sanitizer At Home?

Although hand sanitizer has become harder to come by since the advent of the COVID-19 pandemic, many companies have started to produce sanitizer to fulfill the demand. The FDA warns against making hand sanitizer on your own as a formula can prove to be ineffective or cause skin irritations if incorrectly produced. Similarly, adding alcohol to alcohol-free sanitizers is ill-advised as it increases the risk of burning the skin.

Why Does My Hand Sanitizer Smell Bad?

As mentioned above, many companies began manufacturing hand sanitizer to fulfill the demand caused once COVID became widespread. These companies, many distilleries that were producing drinking alcohol prior to the pandemic, use denatured ethanol, a more affordable alternative to ethanol filtered using activated carbon filtration that would remove most contaminants and malodor.

Can Hand Sanitizer Be Dangerous?

When used properly, hand sanitizer is perfectly safe, although it can potentially cause dry skin so it’s a good idea to also use a moisturizing lotion regularly.

Hand sanitizer can be dangerous if consumed by children and only a small amount can cause alcohol poisoning, although there’s no need to be concerned if your children eat with or lick their hands after using sanitizer. It’s important to supervise small children when using sanitizer until they learn how to use it properly. Pets can also experience health issues if they accidentally ingest hand sanitizer and it’s important that don’t have it on their skin or fur. Contact health or veterinary professionals right away if you fear your child or pet is suffering from the effects of hand sanitizer ingestion.

Does Hand Sanitizer Expire?

Hand sanitizers have been designated as over-the-counter drugs by the FDA, thus automatically possessing an expiration date of three years. Though it’s not known if sanitizers are no longer effective after this period, the organization can’t report on the effectiveness or stability of sanitizers following three years from being produced.


3D Medical Distributors has a variety of various hand sanitizers available now in our online store.

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