The recent pandemic has left the world scrambling, wanting to stay as safe as humanly possible. Could hand sanitizer really be the key to that safety?
Well, no, not entirely, but it’s certainly a start. However, the aid it can give must be used at full effectiveness. To that end, all hand sanitizer shouldn’t be used past its noted expiration date and should be disposed of in the proper manner.
How Does Hand Sanitizer Work?
Alcohol-based hand sanitizer works by killing the protein layer of microbes when applied correctly. Microbes exist in all living things, and can cause good as well as harm. The point of hand sanitizer is to destroy the harmful microbes that contain germs that can cause diseases such as COVID-19.
These sanitizers don’t get rid of all germs, but can take care of the majority when the alcohol content is above 60% and between 60-95%. Hand sanitizers without at least 60% alcohol may not work for some germs and in fact may only slightly slow the growth rate of germs, instead of killing them.
When using hand sanitizer, make sure your hands aren’t greasy or grimy before use, as it will make it harder for the sanitizer to access the germs. Additionally, be sure to use enough sanitizer to cover the entirety of your hands, and to let it dry for at least 20 seconds before using your hands for anything else.
If you use hand sanitizer too often without washing your hands in between, it can create a filmy layer on your hands that traps pathogens instead of killing them. Be sure to keep in mind that hand sanitizer should be your second option, behind washing your hands with soap and water.
What To Look for When Buying Hand Sanitizer
You should always buy an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with an alcohol percentage rate of between 60-95% alcohol. These sanitizers can come in the form of a spray, gel, foam, or liquid.
Two types of alcohol can be used for hand sanitizer: ethanol (ethyl) and isopropyl (rubbing alcohol). If the sanitizer doesn’t specify which type, it’s likely ethanol, as that is the most popular to use. Again, only look for sanitizers that are alcohol based, otherwise they will not do an efficient job of killing off germs.
Do not use sanitizers with methanol (wood alcohol). There is no proof it helps with specific viruses like COVID-19, and it’s very toxic, sometimes causing blindness, severe skin irritations, or even death.
Keep in mind that aerosol disinfectant is not the same as hand sanitizer. Do not spray it on your skin or on animals, as it can be a major skin irritant. Additionally, some chemicals cannot be taken off with hand sanitizer and must instead be taken off with water and soap.
Still confused on what to look for? Don’t worry, we can help! We at Hope Health Supply have an excellent antibacterial hand sanitizer spray for your convenience and health.
Does Hand Sanitizer Expire?
Industry standards typically state that hand sanitizers can last around 2-3 years before expiring.
However, there is not enough investigation into the matter to fully prove when hand sanitizer actually expires, or even if it expires.
The reason why industry standards typically state 2-3 years for alcohol-based hand sanitizer is because alcohol inside the formula evaporates when exposed to air. It is left to the manufacturer to assume when the alcohol will evaporate enough to not be as effective as it should be, and that date is the expiration date.
In all actuality, if the sanitizer does contain alcohol then it will likely work after the stated expiration date, just not as well. It’ll be less effective, but not technically “dangerous” to use, unless you take the pandemic into mind and want to stay as safe as possible.
Overall, there aren’t enough studies done about the use of such sanitizers after their expiration date, and therefore they should not be used and instead should be replaced with a new sanitizer to help combat the pandemic.
So, What Do You Do With Expired Hand Sanitizer?
The answer is relatively simple: throw it away. However, there are some circumstances that need extra care.
If your hand sanitizer has been punctured, is otherwise leaking, or perhaps has irritated your skin but hasn’t been recalled, put it in a sealed ziplock bag and then throw it away. If it says recyclable, then be sure to first empty everything in it out and clean the container with water, then recycle it.
If the hand sanitizer has been recalled, oftentimes you can still throw it away in a sealed ziplock container, but it cannot be recycled. Some recalls have specific instructions, so if in these cases, follow the instructions. There are also hazardous waste bins at some pharmacies you can use if you still feel uncomfortable putting it in your trash. Some recalls might require that as well.
Definitely do not put hand sanitizer down the drain or expose it in any way that could lead to animals consuming it. Both could have toxic results.
Why is Using Hand Sanitizer Important?
COVID-19 has shown the world the need for making health and wellness a priority. Hand sanitizer is one such tool that can aid overall health and as such, is very important, especially when in situations that seem somewhat unclean or crowded.
Although hand sanitizer can be a great tool, it is not a replacement for washing your hands with soap and water. The two should coexist during a pandemic, it shouldn’t be one or the other.
However, many situations don’t allow for easy hand washing, especially with many public restrooms being closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In these cases, carrying a bottle of hand sanitizer can be very beneficial.
If either pets, children, or yourself accidentally ingests hand sanitizer, call 911 and poison control immediately. Additionally, be careful with it around a flame and don’t let it heat up past 105 degrees Fahrenheit.
Avoid making your own hand sanitizer, as there will more likely than not be issues with the formula and consistency of the make. Also, do not add alcohol to hand sanitizer that has already been made, but does not contain alcohol. Both making your own sanitizer from scratch and adding alcohol to already existing non-alcohol sanitizer is foolhardy and will likely cause your skin harm and irritation, at the very least.
Can we say that hand sanitizer conclusively expires at its expiration date? Technically, no, there currently isn’t enough data.
Nevertheless, it should still be thrown away due to the fact that it's less efficient than you need and want it to be, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. How you dispose of it depends on why it needs to be thrown away, and the guidelines surrounding each issue.
If you’re worried about what type of hand sanitizer to use, why not check out our products at Hope Health Supply and see for yourself what a small, family-owned business with gumption, lightning-fast shipping, and affordable prices can provide for you.