The Dirt on Hand Sanitizer Safety


cheryl-franco-author-banner-101613As parents, we always want to do what is best for our children and keep them safe. Frequent hand washing and the use of hand sanitizers when soap and water is not available may decrease your child’s exposure to germs. Some parents, including you, may wonder if the amount of alcohol in some hand sanitizers is enough to make a child sick if swallowed? It depends on your child’s age and weight and how much the child has swallowed. For safety, it’s recommended to call the American Association of Poison Control Centers (AAPCC) at 800-222-1222 regardless of how much alcohol-based hand sanitizer your child has put in their mouth.

The Dirt on Hand Sanitizer Safety

How Much Alcohol is in Hand Sanitizers?

Most alcohol-based hand sanitizers contain 60 percent or higher alcohol content, making it 120 proof. To put this in perspective, most beer contains only 5 percent and even whiskey usually contains 40 to 45 percent alcohol content. This means that a small two-ounce bottle of hand sanitizer that you keep in your purse or diaper bag may equal as many as four shots of hard liquor, if your child were to swallow it.

Should I Stop Using Hand Sanitizers? 

No, just only use a pea size amount. I recommend you taking several precautions. Supervised hand sanitizer use is advised for ALL types of hand sanitizers. You should rub the hand sanitizer onto your baby’s hands until it is completely dry. If you have toddlers or an older child, please supervise them until the hand sanitizer is dry and never let your child lick their hands immediately afterwards. Do not use sweet smelling or fragrant hand sanitizer because your child will be tempted to lick their hands. Keep alcohol-based hand sanitizer away from your children and lock it up at home. If you keep a small bottle in your purse or diaper bag, it’s important to place your bag up high and out of reach to reduce the chance of your child finding it. If you think your child has swallowed some alcohol-based hand sanitizer, call the AAPCC immediately.

Should I Use Hand Sanitizer Wipes instead of Gel? 

This is your choice. The hand sanitizer wipes contain the same alcohol content but there is less amount of alcohol on each wipe. Never leave the hand sanitizer wipes on the table or counter because your child may suck on them. Hand Sanitizer Tips:

  1. Always supervise your child when they use hand sanitizer.
  2. A small amount of hand sanitizer is recommended.
  3. Teach your child to rub their hands together immediately until most or all of the hand sanitizer is dry. If their hands are still wet, then air dry.
  4. Remind your child to keep their hands out of their mouths after the hand gel is applied.
  5. Do not buy hand sanitizers that smell sweet.
  6. Keep all hand sanitizers locked up at home or away from your child.
  7. If you think your child has ingested any amount of hand sanitizer, call your poison control center immediately.

Please share this helpful information with parents you know. Thanks for reading and stay healthy!