Hand Sanitizer

What is it?
First Aid

What is hand sanitizer?

Hand sanitizers, such as Purell, are products for cleaning your hands when you don’t have soap and water. They kill germs, like viruses and bacteria, helping to stop the spread of colds and the flu.

Some brands of hand sanitizer use alcohol to kill the germs, while others use different chemicals.

Hand sanitizer is very safe when used in the right way.

Young children sometimes swallow hand sanitizer by getting into the bottle or licking it off their hands. Some people misuse hand sanitizer by drinking it on purpose for the alcohol.

What are the symptoms of swallowing hand sanitizer?

Someone who swallows a lot of hand sanitizer with alcohol in it may show signs of being drunk, such as having trouble walking or talking. However, hand sanitizer tastes bad and irritates the mouth, which keeps most people from drinking a harmful amount.

Getting hand sanitizer in your eyes can sting.

What can I do about hand sanitizer poisoning?

If someone has swallowed hand sanitizer or gotten it in their eyes, call the poison center at 1-800-222-1222, chat online or text POISON to 85511. You can also contact us with other questions you have about hand sanitizer.

  • If someone has swallowed hand sanitizer, we will help you figure out how much the person drank, what symptoms you may see and how to treat them.
  • If someone got hand sanitizer in their eyes, we will help you figure out if they need to flush their eyes and can tell you how to do it in the right way.

How can I prevent hand sanitizer poisoning?

To prevent hand sanitizer poisoning:

  • Use alcohol-free hand sanitizer if you have young children in the house or if you are concerned about abuse.
  • Keep hand sanitizer out of the reach of children.
  • Keep hand sanitizer in its original container.
  • Keep an eye on children when they use hand sanitizer.

Last Updated: Tuesday May 10th 2016