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Does hand sanitizer expire? This is the experts’ answer

Since the pandemic began, hand sanitizer has been part of our daily lives. And, given recent events, the situation is unlikely to change. For this reason, many people continue to use hand sanitizer as a primary precaution, but does hand sanitizer expire? This is a question that many users have been asking.
At the time Covid-19 started, liquid hand sanitizer was one of the most sought-after products. It was no wonder that people bought in larger quantities to store in their warehouse for a few years. However, given the alarming situation, no one cared to know if the hand sanitizer had an expiration date.
In view of the above, there are many questions regarding hand sanitizer. That is why, in this article, we want to provide you with answers that will help you to dispel any doubts about the product, which will even be useful for your upcoming purchases.

Does hand sanitizer expire?

Any product has an expiration date, and hand sanitizer is no exception. In fact, it is regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which requires it to have an expiration date and lot number. However, the FDA does not provide data on the shelf life of products beyond their expiration date.
Generally, the shelf life of antibacterial hand sanitizer depends on the alcohol concentration. But, once past its expiration date, it may maintain some effectiveness in use, as alcohol is an active ingredient.
According to experts, alcohol is a volatile product, which evaporates. Therefore, if we leave the bottle uncapped, the ingredient may evaporate and the grade of the alcohol suffers a drop and its antiseptic properties as well.

What ingredients can we find in hand sanitizer?

Currently, we can find two types of hand sanitizers: alcohol-based and non-alcohol-based. Alcohol-based hand sanitizers contain isopropyl or ethyl isopropyl as the main active ingredient. For people, it is recommended to purchase a sanitizer with 60% alcohol.
On the other hand, alcohol-free hand sanitizer contains antiseptic benzalkonium chloride, ingredients that have water and other skin moisturizers. Of the two options, the most popular in use and effectiveness is the alcohol-based hand sanitizer.

Is expired hand sanitizer still good?

Considering that hand sanitizer does expire, is it really good to use it after its expiration date? According to some experts, it is possible to use it, but its effectiveness in counteracting viruses and bacteria will depend on the alcohol content.
For instance, if its alcohol content drops below 60%, its effectiveness is lower and the user will likely be more vulnerable in terms of protection. One way to increase the speed of evaporation is to leave the hand sanitizer in a hot car or similar places.
Therefore, if you want to slow down the evaporation process, it would be best to look for a storage place with a temperature of 45 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit, and away from the reach of children.

Is it safe to use?

To protect against the spread of germs, it is important to use hand sanitizer regularly. However, it is important to remember that antibacterial agents can degrade after their expiration date. The alcohol content decreases as the product ages.
Still, using expired antibacterial hand sanitizer does not present a serious problem or harm to the user’s health. That is, if you do not have the possibility to buy another hand sanitizer or have no other option to wash your hands while traveling, you can use it if necessary, but its effectiveness will be different.

How do you know if your hand sanitizer has expired?

Hand sanitizers, when they are in the expiration period, can present important signs, among them is the alcohol content. In addition to this, another way to tell if it has expired is by its odor and viscosity.
How can you verify this? Add some hand sanitizer to a surface, then run your hand over it to determine the odor. That way, you’ll know if the alcohol is still effective or if it has dropped in strength. On the other hand, you can also check if the viscosity of the alcohol remains thick or too liquid, so you will know if you should replace it with another one or not.

How to use hand sanitizer?

Using hand sanitizer is important to prevent germs or any other virus. Therefore, to reduce the risk of diseases (such as coronavirus), its proper use is essential. Here are some tips you can follow:

  • When buying a hand sanitizer, always check the instruction labels. That way you can be sure of the right amount to apply to the palm of your hand.
  • Then, spread the sanitizer all over your hands and fingers until it feels dry.
  • Lastly, just wait a few seconds before touching any object or until the hand sanitizer soaks into the area.