What you should know about hand sanitizer

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Know more about your hand sanitizer

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention still highly recommends regular hand washing (with plain soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds) as the most effective way to prevent the spread of infection and decrease the risk of getting sick.

However, in this time of COVID-19 and heightened awareness of hand hygiene, a sink, running water and soap are not always readily available, making hand sanitizer the next best option, as recommended by the CDC.

Will any hand sanitizer do?

The CDC recommends using a hand sanitizer with at least 60 percent alcohol. The US Food and Drug Administration also urges everyone to avoid using hand sanitizers with methanol (wood alcohol), due to the high risk of toxicity and dangerous side effects, such as nausea, vomiting, headaches, blurred vision, blindness and other serious, potentially life-threatening conditions.

Could I make my own hand sanitizer?

The FDA does not recommend anyone make their own hand sanitizer at home. If a recipe/formula is incorrect or if it is incorrectly made, a hand sanitizer can be ineffective or potentially dangerous, causing skin burns or other irritations.

Government organizations understand that demand for hand sanitizer is high and will continue to be for the foreseeable future. Measures have been put in place to help increase alcohol-based hand sanitizer production.

Could I add alcohol to non-alcohol based hand sanitizer?

Non-alcohol hand sanitizers are not as effective as hand sanitizers with 60 percent alcohol. The FDA does not recommend adding any substance to hand sanitizers. Much like homemade hand sanitizers, adding alcohol to non-alcohol hand sanitizers increases the risk for skin burns and irritation. This includes household cleaning products.

Does hand sanitizer have an expiration date?

The FDA has designated hand sanitizers as an over-the-counter drug, which the agency regulates. All OTCs have expiration dates, and most hand sanitizers have an expiration date of three years.

How can I best store hand sanitizer?

Avoid keeping hand sanitizers within reach of children under 6. Young children should only use hand sanitizer under parental supervision. Also avoid storing it in areas that can reach 105 degrees, such as a car in summer.