Is Expired Hand Sanitizer Safe to Use?

Hand sanitizer in India and globally has been an indispensable element of  during the last year. Even fully vaccinated people are making efforts to restrict the spread of the pandemic by using hand sanitizer when soap and water aren't available.

If there is no access to soap and water, hand sanitizer is helpful to destroy some of the germs on the hands.

So, keeping a supply of hand sanitizer on hand is a good idea. However, don't start stockpiling before knowing their expiry date.

To be effective, hand sanitizers must contain at least 60% alcohol and they usually expire after three years. Here's all that you must know about hand sanitizers in India.

Does hand sanitizer expire?

Yes, hand sanitizers do expire.

Hand sanitizer companies in India need by law to have an expiration date and a lot number because it is regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Take a look at the hand sanitizer's packaging. An expiration date is present on the top or back of the bottle. This expiration date reflects how long the sanitizer's active components will be stable and effective through testing.

The hand sanitizer company in India's norm for hand sanitizer expiration is two to three years. However, a sanitizer that has crossed its expiration date may still be effective since the active ingredient, alcohol, is present.

If a hand sanitizer is used regularly, you will likely go through the bottle before it expires. It can last up to 12-18 months if kept unopened and in a cold, dry environment. Hand sanitizer companies recommended treating hand sanitizers similar to sunscreen and pest repellents and refilling them after a year or two if unused.

Ethyl alcohol and isopropyl alcohols are the active disinfecting components in most hand sanitizers in India.

Hand sanitizers containing at least 60% alcohol are recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The higher the alcohol concentration in the hand sanitizer, the more effective it is in disinfecting.

Why do hand sanitizers expire?

Hand sanitizers in India are available in two categories: alcohol-based and non-alcohol-based. The principal active element in alcohol-based sanitizers is either ethanol or isopropyl. On the other hand, antiseptics benzalkonium chloride are present in non-alcohol-based hand sanitizers.

Alcohol, the primary ingredient that hand sanitizer companies in India use, is a volatile liquid that quickly evaporates when exposed to air.

Hand sanitizer companies in India and worldwide do not provide airtight containers. As a result, when alcohol gets air exposure, it evaporates. In addition, some alcohol might evaporate when the seal opens. As a result, the alcohol concentration in alcohol-based hand sanitizer gradually declines over time, lowering the product's antibacterial qualities.

Most hand sanitizer companies in India calculate how long it will take for the active ingredient percentage to fall below 90% of the labeled proportion.  

Do expired hand sanitizers still work?

The amount of alcohol that has evaporated determines how effective an expired hand sanitizer is. Its effectiveness against some pathogens reduces if the alcohol content falls below 60%, but it will remain effective against others. Therefore, hand sanitizers in India that have crossed expiry dates may be less efficient against specific infections, but they are still safe to use.

Simple soap and water will suffice in place of expired hand sanitizer. The CDC recommends hand washing as the most effective method, and hand sanitizer is the next best thing. According to the FDA, use bottled hand sanitizer as a backup if soap and water are unavailable. 

Expired hand sanitizer can be used if it's the only option 

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulates hand sanitizer companies in India. Hence they must have an expiration date. However, one can still disinfect hands with expired hand sanitizer because less alcohol evaporates when a bottle has its seal intact.  

A newly opened bottle of hand sanitizer that is past its expiry date will likely be more effective than an expired bottle that is already open. However, even if its concentration has dropped below its original proportion, the substance is still safe to use, even if it is less effective.

Hand Sanitizer v/s Hand Wash

When comparing sanitizer v/s hand wash, hand wash is always better.

The reason for this is that washing with water can remove dirt, filth. Also, soap and water are more effective in removing specific bacteria. However, using hand sanitizer is always preferable to using nothing.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) suggests a five-step hand wash routine:

  • Before soaping up, wet the hands with clean running water.
  • Lather all over the hands, including the backs, beneath the nails, and between the fingers.
  • Scrub for at least 20 seconds
  • Hands to be washed with water.
  • Allow the hands to air dry or dry on a clean cloth.

According to the CDC, there is a proper method to use hand sanitizer, just as there is an appropriate way to wash hands:

  • Fill one palm with the necessary amount by squeezing or pumping it.
  • Rub hands together until the gel dries up, coating every area. It will take about 20 seconds to complete this process.

 Hand wash is always preferable, but hand sanitizers have a purpose as well. 

Avoid wood alcohol hand sanitizer

The FDA issued a consumer alert in June 2020 concerning the dangers of methanol contamination. Methanol, also known as wood alcohol, is a poisonous chemical that can be fatal if consumed or absorbed via the skin, according to the statement.

Methanol, which is harmful when absorbed through the skin or swallowed, is present in some formulations of hand sanitizers.

The problem is that many hand sanitizers in India are marketed as containing ethanol or ethyl alcohol, but they are mixed with methanol. Significant exposure to the chemical can cause nausea, vomiting, headaches, blurred vision, permanent blindness, seizures, coma, nervous system damage, or death in certain people.

One of the safe, healthy, and effective hand sanitizers is this one by Just Human.

The most distinguishing feature of this hand sanitizer is that it needs to be used just once a day. It offers 24-hour protection. What’s more, it is a Made in India hand sanitizer but based on effective, proven, and advanced technology from the U.S.A.

While hand sanitizer may still work after its expiry date, it needs replacement as soon as possible because it may be less effective. Try the ‘once a day’ hand sanitizer by Just Human. It will last longer, protect better, and is safe for the skin.