DOES HAND SANITIZER EXPIRE? (AND HOW TO SAFELY DISPOSE OF IT)

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It’s safe to say that we’ve never used up more bottles of hand sanitizer than in 2020. And while hand sanitizer has generally proven to be less effective than washing your hands with soap and water, it’s certainly a convenient alternative. However, have you ever thought about whether hand sanitizer expires? And if it does, how do you safely dispose of it? We’re going to take a look at whether or not you should be throwing out your hand sanitizer and whether it’s safe to pour this supplement down the drain.

What Are The Active Ingredients in Hand Sanitizer?

In order to determine how to properly dispose of hand sanitizer, we need to take a look at what its active ingredients are. If the active ingredients of a product are considered “hazardous waste”, then it must be disposed of as such.

TheStreet.com explains what hand sanitizer is made of:

“Hand sanitizer often has a form of alcohol, such as ethyl alcohol, as an active ingredient and works as an antiseptic. Other ingredients could include water, fragrance, and glycerin. Other non-alcohol based hand sanitizers contain an antibiotic compound called triclosan or triclocarban. This ingredient can also be found in soaps and even toothpaste. These products are often labeled antibacterial, antimicrobial, or antiseptic soaps.”

Does Hand Sanitizer Expire?

Due to the fact that hand sanitizer usually contains alcohol as its active ingredient, can hand sanitizer really expire? While it may or may not become less effective over time, you’ll always be able to find an expiry date on your bottle of hand sanitizer.

Healthline.com tells us why hand sanitizer technically expires and if you can rely on it after its expiry date:

“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. This expiration date indicates the amount of time that testing has confirmed the sanitizer’s active ingredients are stable and effective. Typically, the industry standard is 2 to 3 years before hand sanitizer expires. Sanitizer past its expiration date may still have some effectiveness, though, because it still contains alcohol, the active ingredient. Even if its concentration has dropped below its original percentage, the product — although less effective, or perhaps ineffective — isn’t dangerous to use. While hand sanitizer may still work after it’s expired, your best bet is to replace it once it’s reached its expiration date, since it may be less effective.”

How to Properly Dispose of Hand Sanitizer

All hand sanitizer contains alcohol as its active ingredient, but there have been several cases where the FDA has recalled certain hand sanitizers that contain chemicals that could be considered toxic. Regardless of whether or not your hand sanitizer has been recalled, all hand sanitizer is considered household hazardous waste and needs to be disposed of accordingly.

Wktv.com tells us what you should do with hand sanitizer that has been recalled:

“The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has cautioned against using certain hand sanitizers that contain chemicals that could be considered toxic, including methanol, or wood alcohol. Methanol can be toxic if it’s absorbed through the skin, according to the FDA. Jamie Tuttle, of the Oneida-Herkimer Solid Waste Authority, says there is a proper way to dispose of hand sanitizers with toxic ingredients. “It’s something that we do not want you dumping down the drain. It is something we will take at our household hazardous waste facility but it is ok to place in your regular garbage, not in the recycling bin under any circumstances,” she said.”

We offer a wide variety of waste disposal options, including the disposal of household hazardous waste, with services readily available online. Reach out to us to see what we can offer you.

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