People use hand sanitizers to remove germs and bacteria from their hands when they are unable to get to soap and water. However, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (USDA) has issued warnings that some hand sanitizers are toxic because they are made with methanol. After the CDC recommended using hand sanitizer if soap and water aren’t available, the business exploded. As hand sanitizer can be hard to find, people often buy it without checking the ingredients.
The reality is that hand sanitizer is a good second choice for cleaning your hands but only if it is safe and not toxic. Continue reading to learn how to tell the difference.
Check the Label for Ingredients
The first way to make sure that your hand sanitizer is safe is to check the ingredients. You should not use any sanitizer that contains methanol. Methanol can be extremely toxic to people because of what happens during the process of the body breaking it down. Once you absorb it through your skin or inhale it, your body will metabolize it into formaldehyde. Then it is broken down into a compound called formic acid. This compound is toxic to your cells.
Safe hand sanitizer will contain at least 60% ethanol, which is also ethyl alcohol. It should not contain any methanol at all. If you are buying sanitizer made by a reputable company, the ingredients will be clearly written on the label. If you can’t find the ingredients, you can look up the company website on the Internet. If there is no brand name, it might be best to avoid it and choose a product that lists the ingredients and the manufacturer.
Check the Brand and the Country of Origin
Most reputable brands are safe and you can be confident that the ingredients are what they say. If you are familiar with the brand and it lists the ingredients, it is safe to use as long as it is made with at least 60% ethanol. However, it is important to understand that some lesser-known brands list 60% ethanol as an ingredient and they actually contain methanol.
If you are not familiar with a brand and haven’t researched it, you might want to consider avoiding this brand. At the end of the day, it’s not worth the risk. Additionally, you can check the country of origin. Many of these toxic hand sanitizers were made in Mexico, where they have a different set of rules and regulations.
Check the FDA’s List of Potentially Toxic Hand Sanitizers
Finally, you can check the FDA’s list of potentially toxic hand sanitizers. The FDA keeps a running list on their website that tells you the names of companies and the products that have been tested and found to contain methanol. This list is updated as new items are discovered so it has good information.
Although these toxic brands of hand sanitizer contain methanol, they do not disclose it on the label. For this reason, you should avoid a brand that you are not familiar with until you can verify that it isn’t on the list or that it contains no methanol.
The FDA recommends that anyone who has been exposed to hand sanitizer that contains methanol should seek the help of a doctor if they are experiencing any symptoms. Symptoms might include a headache, blurred vision, nausea, blindness, seizures, vomiting, coma, and more.
Methanol is toxic to people and animals so it is important to exercise caution when you choose hand sanitizer products. You need to make sure that you and your family are safe and free from the dangers of being poisoned.
If you are out and do not have access to soap and clean water, using hand sanitizer is a good second choice. However, you need to make sure that it is safe and free from methanol. If you can’t determine this from the label, you should avoid it.