Is Your Hand Sanitizer Still Effective?

Does hand sanitizer expire? An excellent question during this pandemic, and moving forward, is whether hand sanitizer expires. This product does carry an expiration date.

We have all heard the rules: cover your mouth & nose, stay home when sick and six feet apart when not, and wash those hands thoroughly all the time. When washing hands is not possible, there is hand sanitizer to help you through. We now count on these hand sanitizer products to possibly save our lives whenever venturing out from our little bubbles of quarantine. So, how can we be sure that these products are doing their job?

Here is a list of things to watch for when reaching for your bottle to ensure that your hand sanitizer has not gone bad or expired.

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Is Your Hand Sanitizer Still Effective?

Hand Sanitizer Expiration

1) First off, don’t buy hand sanitizer that contains Methanol.
The FDA recalled 59 brands of sanitizer this summer that contained Methanol. The potential dangers from this chemical include everything from nausea to blindness to seizures all the way to death. Check this list of recalled sanitizers if in question.

2) Never leave hand sanitizer in the car during hot days.
Storage is always important for extending shelf life. This bottle didn’t come sporting the nice puffy shape it now does, it expanded during a few days inside the car that became a hot box when it was over 100°F outside.

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Not only did the bottle expand, but the potency of alcohol declines with high temperatures, just like when making a wine sauce… the alcohol burns off. With hand sanitizer, the alcohol must remain. Instead of leaving a bottle in the car, carry a small bottle in your purse or pocket and refill it at home.

3) NEVER drink hand sanitizer.
Never, ever, even if packaged in food containers or (believe it or not) the product contains a flavoring… don’t drink it!

4) Hand sanitizers are not made for truly dirty hands.
Use soap and water to remove dirt and grime and save the sanitizer for germs.

5) Check the ingredients.
The ingredient label must include at least 60% alcohol in order to be effective.

6) Find the expiration date (EXP).
Again, this is the amount of time that the product is guaranteed by the manufacturer to remain stable. Although it may still be effective after that date, the manufacturer and the FDA have only verified its effectiveness up until that date. If no date can be found, then the product will remain stable for at least 3 years from the production date. With hand sanitizer, you want to use a stable and fully effective product.

When dealing with COVID-19, although they will still kill some germs, it is recommended to replace bottles of hand sanitizer that are past their prime (expiration date).

Is Your Hand Sanitizer Still Effective?

Additional Info

For more information on best-by dates, see the best-by date definition.

To find out how long food lasts, see our EatByDate pages.

To find out how long other foods are good for, please visit the Dairy, Drinks, Fruits, Grains, Proteins, Vegetables and Other sections of Eat By Date or use the search function below.

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