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Is expired hand sanitizer effective?

Discussion in 'First Aid Station' started by AcesQ, Dec 23, 2011.

    AcesQ Loaded Pockets

    Alright, this has nothing much to do with First-Aid I guess, but more of a hygiene issue: Will an expired hand sanitizer still be effective for "cleaning" up the hands? Maybe expired like a year + ?

    defuse kit Loaded Pockets

    You should really wash your hands if you get the chance, it cleans infinitely better. But I'm going to go with no, hand sanitizer does not expire or become ineffective (the active ingredient is usually ethyl or isopropyl alcohol), but it will eventually evaporate I guess.
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    kirbysdl Loaded Pockets

    I've also heard of benzalkonium chloride in the alcohol free versions, but that shouldn't decompose too quickly either. Ultimately, wash with water first anyway. Hand sanitizer is best for killing microbes, not for cleaning.

    LivingUpNorth Loaded Pockets

    As mentioned above, the active ingredient may evaporate if not sealed tightly, but otherwise I'm sure it will still work fine. I heard that any product designed for use in or on the body must have an expiration date according to the FDA, but I could be mistaken.

    AcesQ Loaded Pockets

    Thanks to all the replies. I just bought one bottle of hand sanitizer last night and was a little p*ssed that it was expired. I always have a bottle of sanitizer with me around, however I hardly use em. When I really need and want use it, it's already expired. And yes, I do wash my hands instead of using sanitizer when I have the chance. Another thing I always keep in my wallet is a packet of Warrior wipe.


    ProjeKtWEREWOLF Loaded Pockets

    Remember that sanitiser is no good against the bug that causes the 'winter vomiting bug' (d&v as we call it!). Soap and water is best.
    I have used expired sanitiser, it still smells like it should so I assume it is still at least partially effective?

    AcesQ Loaded Pockets

    What kind / brand of Sanitizer are you guys using?

    ProjeKtWEREWOLF Loaded Pockets

    Whatever is cheap and in small bottles! I am too poor to be a snob.
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    chaosmagnet Loaded Pockets

    That doesn't sound right to me. Cite?

    Hand sanitizer continues to work long after its expiration date.

    defuse kit Loaded Pockets

    He's right, about hand sanitizer not working against certain bugs anyway. There are certain bacteria that create endospores which are VERY difficult to kill. I'm thinking he's talking about Clostridium difficile. Hand sanitizers won't kill C. dif's spores, but hand washing will remove them from your hands, even if it doesn't actually kill them. It's the friction of the hand washing that helps.

    Hand rubs are effective if you understand how to use them and their limitations. They aren't miracles. They kill some of the bacteria that're already on your hands. You have to completely cover your hands and rub continuously for at least fifteen (15) seconds and your hands are dry. Hand rubs do NOT protect you against bacteria after it dries.

    AcesQ Loaded Pockets

    Yeah I completely understand what you're trying to say. I'm currently using a LifeBouy Hand santizer. Any other recommendation?

    coach_d Banned

    Some good ideas here. Soap and water always a few times a day with hand sanitizer in between 8 or 9 times. To think what did we do in the 60's, 70's and 80's - ah man , the 80's !

    Cobra 6 Actual Loaded Pockets

    Yep, agree with all of the "washing hands works best" comments. But, to directly answer the earlier question about what brand I use: it's Purell (owned by a company called "Gojo.") I use the little .5 ounce bottles: you won't get many uses out of them, but they're cheap enough that you can put'em all over the place or even refill them from a larger bottle. The other thing I like about this brand is that the gel is not sticky when it dries and only has a very light alcohol smell. Here's a link:


    You can buy them even cheaper than that. The company also makes an olive drab bottle for the military ... as I recall it was about 2 or 3 ounces and the bottle was sturdier. They have little "handy wipe" packets, but personally, I don't think there's enough gel on'em to do any good.
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    Blackbeagle Loaded Pockets

    The active ingredient in almost all of them is ethyl alcohol - approx 62%. Drying out of the alcohol may be an issue, but the one I hate the most is that they seem to leach plasticizer out of the bottle and/or the geling compound breaks down and you get liquid instead of gel. Either way, the older it gets, the stickier it gets - doesn't seem to completely dry on your hands.

    Rollo Loaded Pockets

    I find mine at the dollar store. It's not the type of item that I really worry about brand.