People keep hand sanitizer in many locations to use when soap and water aren’t available or they cannot properly wash their hands. Occasional use means a bottle of hand sanitizer could last months or even years before running out of product. This may not seem like a problem initially, but many users are unaware that sanitizer does expire. So, what does this expiration date mean? And can you use hand sanitizer after it’s expired? The hand care specialists at Kutol are here to answer all your questions about sanitizer expiration dates so you can be better protected against germs.
Why Do Hand Sanitizers Have Expiration Dates?
The US Food and Drug Administration regulates hand sanitizer as an over-the-counter drug, and because of that, expiration dates are required. Generally, hand sanitizer will have an expiration date of around two years after being manufactured. After this timeframe, the alcohol in sanitizers slowly evaporates, causing them to lose effectiveness.
Most alcohol-based hand sanitizers contain anywhere from 60% to 90% alcohol. Within two to three years, this number will drop below 60%, which is the threshold for when a sanitizer loses its max effectiveness. However, just because an alcohol-based sanitizer is past its expiration date does not necessarily mean it is spoiled or dangerous to use. It can still be used but will not be near as effective due to the alcohol level being below 60%. Although the use of an expired hand sanitizer is not recommended due to its lower effectiveness, in a pinch, it is better to use the expired product versus nothing at all.
Does Non-Alcohol Hand Sanitizer Expire?
So, most alcohol-based sanitizers last about two years before meeting their expiration date, but what about non-alcohol hand sanitizers? The most common active ingredient in alcohol-free sanitizer is benzalkonium chloride, a quaternary ammonium antiseptic, and disinfectant. Benzalkonium chloride is very stable, has a shelf life of up to three years, and can be used safely after the expiration date. But like alcohol-based hand sanitizer, it may be less effective.
How to Store Hand Sanitizer
There are ways to properly store and extend the effectiveness of sanitizers. It is best practice to keep sanitizers in a cool, dark place, so the alcohol and other active ingredients do not evaporate. Although it is convenient to keep sanitizer in your car, this will drastically reduce the sanitizer’s effectiveness over time due to the high temperatures in a car, especially in the summertime.
Keeping sanitizer out in cold weather will not reduce effectiveness. However, if you notice the bottle of in your car is freezing, it’s time to toss it in the trash. Alcohol sanitizers should only freeze when temps are -50° F. If it’s freezing, that is an indicator that it most likely does not have a high enough alcohol content and is not effective.
The Importance of Quality Hand Sanitizer
Due to the growing demand for hand sanitizer since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic, there are sanitizers on the market that you should not use because they are made with ingredients that don’t meet the FDA’s requirements. One sanitizer brand you can always trust is Kutol’s Health Guard hand care line.
All of our commercial hand sanitizer refills have expiration dates of two years, are available in liquid and foaming formulas, and are made with or without alcohol. Health Guard alcohol hand sanitizers are guaranteed to have the exact amount of alcohol listed on the label to ensure maximum effectiveness – keeping users’ hands sanitized and healthy. Contact us for more information on our complete hand care line and order the quality hand sanitizer you need to protect against germs.