Hand Sanitizer Safety


Some hand sanitizers should not be used because they may:

  • Contain methanol (wood alcohol), 1-propanol, benzene, acetaldehyde, or acetal. These chemicals can cause serious health problems such as cancer, blindness, nerve damage, and even death.
  • Be contaminated with germs.
  • Not have enough alcohol in them to work properly.
  • Be packaged to look like a food or drink. This increases the risk of someone swallowing hand sanitizer by mistake.

Check the label on all your hand sanitizers. If the manufacturer’s name or product name is on this FDA list, stop using it immediately. For help finding your product on the FDA list, use this step-by-step guide.

More Hand Sanitizer Safety Tips:
Student using hand sanitizer

  • Do not swallow hand sanitizer.
  • Keep hand sanitizers out of the reach of children and supervise their use. Be aware of products that might resemble or smell like candy.
  • Avoid products that say “FDA-approved” on the label – there are no hand sanitizers approved by the FDA.
  • Seek immediate medical attention if you have swallowed hand sanitizer or are experiencing symptoms after repeated use of these products on your skin and contact your poison center (1-800-222-1222) for advice.
  • Symptoms include headache, blurred vision or blindness, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, confusion, loss of coordination, decreased alertness, slowed pulse and breathing, skin or eye irritation.
  • Only use alcohol-based hand sanitizers or rubs for their intended purpose – to clean hands.
  • For more information, see the FDA’s consumer warning letter which is available in English and Spanish.

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  • Public Health has made reasonable efforts to provide accurate translation. However, no computerized translation is perfect and is not intended to replace traditional translation methods. If questions arise concerning the accuracy of the information, please refer to the English edition of the website, which is the official version.

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