Tips for Hand Sanitizer Safety

Cole-Parmer liquid Hand Sanitizer 80% Alcohol
Gallon size of Cole-Parmer® Hand Sanitizer 80% Alcohol

By K.A. Danko, U.S.

Know what’s in your hand sanitizer

As you prepare to reopen your business or school, you may be stocking up on hand sanitizer. Stocking up is a great idea, if you are stocking up on safe brands. There are so many on the market, and they all look similar—clear or green aloe gel. Choice should be easy, right? It’s not that easy. Maybe, you were thinking you can order the largest container for the lowest price? Not a good idea either, unless it’s from a trusted source. It’s not uncommon to think this way. I can’t tell you how many times my husband came home from the store with the largest tub-of-something because it was the better bargain. In fact, he did it in February when the pandemic started—brought home the largest bottle of hand sanitizer I ever saw! I’m thankful it’s not on the US Food & Drug Administration (FDA)’s hand sanitizer recall list because I’m going to be using this bottle for a very long time.

Use the FDA hand sanitizer recall list

You might have seen this recall list from the (FDA) and heard the latest news about its warnings of ineffective and dangerous hand sanitizers on the market. The list keeps growing and was recently updated with the hand sanitizers that have concerningly low levels of ethyl alcohol or isopropyl alcohol, the active ingredients. The list also contains hand sanitizer that are or may be contaminated with methanol. For those of you who may not know, methanol can cause a list of problems including blindness and death.

It’s not necessary to panic, but it is a good time to think beyond the bargains and learn more about the chemicals in hand sanitizers. We encourage you to review the FDA’s recall list, as they continue to find problems with many on the market. If you are outside of the US, you should research your local health organization to see if hand sanitizers are being recalled in your region as well.

Learn more about hand sanitizer

Listen to a podcast

We also invite you to listen to the podcast, SPEX® Speaks Science, Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) by Patricia Atkins, Senior Applications Scientist at SPEX CertiPrep. In this podcast, Patricia talks about all of the chemicals involved in making hand sanitizer. Though you will find she talks about making your own hand sanitizer, we do not recommend you do this unless you work directly with a SPEX representative, or you are a professional chemist.

In the beginning of this podcast, you will learn all about hand sanitizer including the ingredients and amounts required, the differences in the alcohols ethanol, isopropanol, and methanol, and the dangers of methanol. You will also learn why people substitute methanol in hand sanitizers, and why you don’t want to see denatured ethanol on the label. The podcast host also talks about disinfectants and personal protective equipment.

Choose a hand sanitizer you can trust

Don’t have time to listen to the podcast but want a hand sanitizer you can trust? Check out our Cole-Parmer alcohol-based liquid hand sanitizer. Make sure you purchase a hand sanitizer from a reputable source.

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