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Hand sanitizer tips: Expiration dates,  keeping it in your car, usage for children and more
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Hand sanitizer tips: Expiration dates, keeping it in your car, usage for children and more

By Jamie J. Hardy PharmD, BCPS, MS, Clinical Pharmacist | Methodist University Hospital
Posted: May 6, 2020

Now that parameters are being put into place to gradually reopen sections of the community, hand hygiene on the go will be a necessity.

When handwashing with soap and water is not possible, the use of hand sanitizer is recommended. More than ever, people will need a personal supply of hand sanitizer with them at all times.

Here are some frequently asked questions about the use of hand sanitizer:

Is hand sanitizer effective against COVID-19?

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) the best way to prevent the spread of infections and decrease the risk of getting sick is by washing your hands often and for at least 20 seconds with plain soap and water, advises. Hand hygiene is needed especially after using the bathroom, before eating, and after coughing, sneezing, or blowing your nose. If soap and water are not available the use of an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.

Does hand sanitizer have an expiration date?

Yes. Since hand sanitizer is regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), it’s required by law to have an expiration date and lot number listed on the container. The exception is that hand sanitizer produced under the temporary policies for production and compounding during this public health emergency may not have an expiration date listed because it is expected to be used during this time.

Is hand sanitizer still effective after the expiration date?

The expiration date indicates the amount of time that testing has confirmed the active ingredients to be stable and effective. Based on data, the industry has set a standard expiration date of 2 to 3 years. However, sanitizer beyond its expiration date may still offer some effectiveness since the active ingredient is alcohol. It is worth nothing that its effectiveness may be reduced. 


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Where should hand sanitizer be stored?

Hand sanitizer should be stored out of the reach of children. It should not be stored above a temperature of 105°F. Even though it may seem convenient to do so, do not store hand sanitizer in your car. During the warmer months the temperature inside your car can exceed the recommended storage temperature.

Is hand sanitizer use safe for children?

Hand sanitizer should be used with adult supervision for children under 6 years of age. When used according to the directions on the Drug Facts Label, hand sanitizer is not dangerous for children. It is important to keep the product out of the eyes. Hand sanitizer is dangerous when ingested by children.

What should I do if my child ingests hand sanitizer?

Call the poison control center at (800) 222-1222 or a medical professional immediately.