Does Hand Sanitizer Expire?

AJ_Watt/E+ via Getty Images

Does Hand Sanitizer Expire?

That old bottle you found might not work
Does Hand Sanitizer Expire?

AJ_Watt/E+ via Getty Images

Keeping hands clean and sanitized is one way to ease the spread of the coronavirus pandemic, but hand sanitizer could be difficult to come across these days unless you keep an eye on the internet or store shelves for when they restock. So if you come across an old hand sanitizer hiding in your bag from a few years ago, is it OK? Does hand sanitizer expire?

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The simple answer is yes.

According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), there’s no information on the effectiveness and stability of hand sanitizer after three years. Hand sanitizer is regulated as an over-the-counter (OTC) drug product, and most OTC drug products must list an expiration date unless there is data stating that the product can stay effective after three years.

You should be washing your hands often, including before, during and after eating, and avoid touching your face. Since you’re probably working from home, using soap and water is more effective than hand sanitizer, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. But in situations in which you need to go outside to the grocery store or elsewhere and using water isn’t an option, it’s best to carry a new bottle of hand sanitizer with you.

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