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10 Toxic Hand Sanitizers To Avoid: FDA Warns of These Brands

Which are the Toxic Hand Sanitizers that the FDA Warns?

hand sanitizers to avoid

Once known as a luxury, then a daily used essential, and finally became a life-saving necessity. The journey of hand sanitizer in human lives has been quite interesting. Even after the COVID-19 pandemic, hand sanitizers are widely used to maintain hand hygiene. In the absence of soap & water, hand sanitizers are the most convenient way to disinfect hands, reduce infection risk, and maintain hand hygiene. But, not all hand sanitizers are safe to use. The US FDA warned users, especially during the pandemic about unsafe & toxic hand sanitizers. In this article, we'll explore the various hand sanitizer brands that the FDA has warned about and also provide tips on how to identify toxic hand sanitizers.

What are hand sanitizers? 

Hand sanitizers are antipathogenic chemical substances that either kill, weaken, or completely inhibit pathogens & their growth. They are capable of fighting against various pathogens which include a wide range of bacteria, viruses, protozoa, fungi, and other microbes. They can be purchased in the form of gels, sprays, foams, rub-on, wipes, etc. Irrespective of their types, hand sanitizers are the most effective for sanitizing & disinfecting hands.

hand sanitizer

Hand sanitizers have two types of components where the active ingredient is responsible for the primary work of hand sanitizers, while the other ingredients help provide support to the hand sanitizer and produce other effects. For example, glycerol or aloe gel is added as an emollient that helps reduce the effects of dryness caused by alcohol (widely used as an active ingredient in alcohol). Based on active ingredients, hand sanitizers are classified as alcohol-based hand sanitizer & alcohol-free hand sanitizer. The active ingredients in alcohol-based hand sanitizer are ethanol & isopropyl alcohol. The active ingredients in alcohol-free hand sanitizer are benzalkonium chloride, hydrogen peroxide, and ethylhexylglycerin. 

Check out our hand sanitizer that has been curated for your hand hygiene.

Did you know?

Alcohol-based hand sanitizers are not pet-friendly. They can cause alcohol poisoning and in severe conditions may be even fatal, so keep them away from your pets.

What are the FDA warnings on toxic hand sanitizers?

Though there has been clear-cut instruction by government agencies about the composition of hand sanitizers, many manufacturers were found marketing toxic hand sanitizers. To tackle such situations, the US FDA issues public notices that warn the consumer about the use of hand sanitizers that are not fit for use. In June 2020, the US FDA issued a public notice warning that a few manufacturers are selling hand sanitizers containing a toxic substance called methanol which can cause grave illnesses & health issues. Methanol gets easily absorbed through the skin which can even cause fatal in extreme cases. FDA has identified more than 250 hand sanitizer brands that contained methanol (also known as wood alcohol). 

hand sanitizers to avoid

Also, in August 2020, the US FDA issued a public notice warning that hand sanitizers containing a toxic substance called 1-propanol are sold in the market. The chemical is a known carcinogen and must be avoided at all costs. The FDA has also issued a warning about benzene which is also a well-known carcinogen. Depending upon exposure to these chemicals, they cause skin irritation and in the worst cases may cause cancer as well.

Did you know?

Consumer hand sanitizers are not FDA-approved. The FDA only ensures that hand sanitizers are safe to use.

How to Identify Safe Hand Sanitizers

To ensure that you always buy & use safe hand sanitizer, consider the following suggestions -

  • CHECK the LABEL -

  • The label contains information on the composition of the hand sanitizer. If it is an alcohol-based hand sanitizer, then check for the % concentration of the CDC. According to the CDC, an ethanol-based hand sanitizer should contain at least 60% ethanol (also known as ethyl alcohol) and an isopropyl alcohol-based hand sanitizer should contain at least 70% isopropyl alcohol (also called rubbing alcohol and 2-propanol).

    hand sanitizer label

    The other active ingredients present may be hydrogen peroxide, ethylhexylglycerin, and benzalkonium chloride. We suggest not using hand sanitizers that claim any other active ingredient that is not approved by the FDA. The presence of methanol, 1-propanol, acetal, acetaldehyde, and benzene is a major red flag to not using the hand sanitizer.

    Did you know?

    The alcohol used in hand sanitizers is denatured. Denatured alcohol is made unfit for consumption. So, if you had plans (or a curious thought) to consume hand sanitizers, then you have your answer.

    Did you check the expiry date on the hand sanitizer label? What happens when you use hand sanitizers that have expired? Check out our blog on expired hand sanitizer for answers.

  • CHECK the FDA website -

  • The FDA constantly keeps updating the list of hand sanitizer brands that are unfit for use. Their website is the best source to cross-verify whether the hand sanitizer is safe to use or not. Any hand sanitizer brand mentioned in their list should not be used in any circumstance. Moreover, the FDA also publishes the brands that market sub-potent hand sanitizers. Sub-potent hand sanitizers are the ones that contain a % concentration of active ingredients less than the minimum required value.

    Did you know?

    The FDA website also checks for microbial contamination, and shares the list of hand sanitizers that may have microbial contamination, and must not be used. For example, the FDA urged consumers to not use Durisan antimicrobial solutions alcohol-free hand sanitizer due to microbial contamination. 

  • BUY Hand Sanitizers from reputed brands and authorized dealers

  • hand sanitizers to avoid

    Though it doesn’t ensure full immunity, it does reduce the risk of buying sub-standard hand sanitizers.

    Which famous hand sanitizer brands were banned by FDA? 

    Many popular hand sanitizer brands didn’t comply with the safety standards as monitored by FDA and eventually were handed over a ban. The brands are as follows -

    1. CleanCare
    2. Germ-X
    3. Saniderm
    4. All-Clean
    5. EskBiochem
    6. Blumen
    7. The GoodGel
    8. All-Clean
    9. Lavar 70
    10. Modesa

    Nearly all these hand sanitizer brands were either recalled or banned based on the presence of methanol (also known as wood alcohol) in their hand sanitizers. One can check out the detailed & updated list of hand sanitizers along with the details of manufacturers, brands, and reasons for banning them on the banned hand sanitizer list by the FDA.


    hand sanitizers to avoid

    The most crucial & convenient of sanitizing & disinfecting the hands has been using hand sanitizers. Their frequent use has instilled the practice of hand hygiene. But, not all hand sanitizers are safe, and it can be an issue to identify the malicious ones. Using unsafe hand sanitizers puts one at a higher risk which can be fatal in severe conditions. The US FDA helps consumers by keeping them aware of unsafe ones. Check the label for the recommended active ingredients & banned toxic substances, the FDA website for the banned hand sanitizer brands, and buy from reputed & authorized stores, and you would be buying the safer ones for sure.