FDA Warns Against 59 Potentially Toxic Hand Sanitizers

HealthinationWhen + How to Use Hand Sanitizer Properly for COVID-19 ProtectionJust rubbing it into your palms? That’s a big mistake.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has dramatically increased the number of potentially toxic hand sanitizers consumers need to avoid.

The agency first took action on June 19, 2020, when it advised consumers to avoid nine products manufactured by Mexico-based Eskbiochem SA de CV due to risk of methanol contamination. Further warnings followed on June 29 about another product by that manufacturer, hand sanitizer packaged in one-liter bottles from Saniderm Products for the same reason.

That was just the beginning. In less than two weeks the list of problematic products increased more than sixfold, to 59 by July 2.

The active ingredient in safe and effective hand sanitizer is ethanol (i.e., ethyl alcohol), not methanol (i.e., ‘wood alcohol’), which can be toxic to humans if absorbed through the skin or ingested. The FDA says it has seen a sharp increase in hand sanitizer products labeled to contain ethanol but testing positive for methanol contamination.

The FDA also warns consumers that substantial exposure to methanol can result in nausea, vomiting, headache, blurred vision, permanent blindness, seizures, coma, permanent damage to the nervous system or death.

The Full List of Potentially Harmful Hand Sanitizers

At the time of publication, the list of hand sanitizer brands to avoid included:

All-Clean Hand Sanitizer
Andy’s Best
Antiseptic Alcohol 70% Topical Solution hand sanitizer
Assured Aloe
Assured Instant Hand Sanitizer (Aloe and Moisturizers)
Assured Instant Hand Sanitizer (Vitamin E and Aloe)
Assured Instant Hand Sanitizer Aloe and Moisturizers
Assured Instant Hand Sanitizer Vitamin E and Aloe
Bersih Hand Sanitizer Gel Fragrance Free
bio aaa Advance Hand Sanitizer
BLUMEN Advanced Hand Sanitizer
BLUMEN Advanced Hand Sanitizer Aloe
Blumen Advanced Hand Sanitizer Aloe, with 70% alcohol
BLUMEN Advanced Hand Sanitizer Clear
Blumen Advanced Hand Sanitizer Lavender, with 70% alcohol
BLUMEN Advanced Instant Hand Sanitizer Clear
Blumen Advanced Instant Hand Sanitizer Clear Ethyl Alcohol 70%
BLUMEN Advanced Instant Hand Sanitizer Lavender
BLUMEN Aloe Advanced Hand Sanitizer, with 70% Alcohol
Blumen Antibacterial Fresh Citrus Hand Sanitizer
BLUMEN Clear Advanced Hand Sanitizer
Blumen Clear Advanced Hand Sanitizer with 70% Alcohol
BLUMEN Clear Advanced Instant Hand Sanitizer
BLUMEN Clear Advanced Instant Hand Sanitizer Aloe
BLUMEN Clear Advanced Instant Hand Sanitizer Lavender
BLUMEN Clear LEAR Advanced Hand Sanitizer
Blumen Hand Sanitizer Fresh Citrus
BLUMEN Instant Hand Sanitizer Aloe Vera
BLUMEN Instant Hand Sanitizer Fragrance Free
Britz Hand Sanitizer Ethyl Alcohol 70%
CleanCare NoGerm Advanced Hand Sanitizer 75% Alcohol
CleanCare NoGerm Advanced Hand Sanitizer 80% Alcohol
CleanCare NoGerm Advanced Hand Sanitizer 80% Alcohol
DAESI hand sanitizer
Earths Amenities Instant Unscented Hand Sanitizer with Aloe Vera Advanced
Esk Biochem Hand Sanitizer
Hand sanitizer (labeled with Wet Look Janitorial and Gardening Corp.)
Hand Sanitizer Agavespa Skincare
Hand sanitizer Gel Unscented 70% Alcohol
Hello Kitty by Sanrio Hand Sanitizer
KLAR AND DANVER Instant Hand Sanitizer (labeled with Greenbrier International Inc.)
Lavar 70 Gel Hand Sanitizer
LumiSkin Advance Hand Sanitizer 16 oz
LumiSkin Advance Hand Sanitizer 4 oz
MODESA Instant Hand Sanitizer Moisturizers and Vitamin E
Mystic Shield Protection hand sanitizer
Optimus Lubricants Instant Hand Sanitizer
Plus Advanced
QualitaMed Hand Sanitizer
Saniderm Advanced Hand Sanitizer
Selecto Hand Sanitizer
Shine and Clean Hand Sanitizer
The Good Gel Antibacterial Gel Hand Sanitizer
The Honeykeeper Hand Sanitizer
Vidanos Easy Cleaning Rentals Hand Sanitizer Agavespa Skincare

FDA Guidelines for Safe Hand Sanitizer Use

The FDA “remains vigilant and will continue to take action when quality issues arise with hand sanitizers.” The agency urges consumers to follow these guidelines for safe use of hand sanitizer:

Never drink hand sanitizer under any conditions;
Avoid hand sanitizers that do not contain at least 60 percent ethyl alcohol or isopropyl alcohol;
Avoid hand sanitizers that claim to prevent the spread of viruses such as COVID-19 and those that claim to provide prolonged protection (e.g., for up to 24-hours);
Avoid any hand sanitizer that are fraudulently marketed as “FDA-approved” (no hand sanitizers are approved by FDA);
Avoid products packaged to appear as drinks, candy or liquor bottles, as well as products marketed as drinks or cocktails because their appearance could result in accidental ingestion or encourage ingestion.

How to Handle Hand Sanitizer Issues

Those who have been exposed to potentially toxic hand sanitizer and are experiencing symptoms should seek immediate treatment for methanol poisoning. The FDA also encourages health care professionals, consumers and patients to report adverse events or hand sanitizer quality issues to its MedWatch Adverse Event Reporting program.

Government health organizations remind consumers to frequently wash their hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom, before eating, and after coughing, sneezing, or blowing one’s nose.