FDA Warns Against 59 Potentially Toxic Hand Sanitizers

The list of problematic hand sanitizer brands increased sharply from nine on June 19 to 59 on July 2. 

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:

  1. All-Clean Hand Sanitizer
  2. Andy’s
  3. Andy’s Best
  4. Antiseptic Alcohol 70% Topical Solution hand sanitizer
  5. Assured Aloe
  6. Assured Instant Hand Sanitizer (Aloe and Moisturizers)
  7. Assured Instant Hand Sanitizer (Vitamin E and Aloe)
  8. Assured Instant Hand Sanitizer Aloe and Moisturizers
  9. Assured Instant Hand Sanitizer Vitamin E and Aloe
  10. Bersih Hand Sanitizer Gel Fragrance Free
  11. bio aaa Advance Hand Sanitizer
  12. BLUMEN Advanced Hand Sanitizer
  13. BLUMEN Advanced Hand Sanitizer Aloe
  14. Blumen Advanced Hand Sanitizer Aloe, with 70% alcohol
  15. BLUMEN Advanced Hand Sanitizer Clear
  16. Blumen Advanced Hand Sanitizer Lavender, with 70% alcohol
  17. BLUMEN Advanced Instant Hand Sanitizer Clear
  18. Blumen Advanced Instant Hand Sanitizer Clear Ethyl Alcohol 70%
  19. BLUMEN Advanced Instant Hand Sanitizer Lavender
  20. BLUMEN Aloe Advanced Hand Sanitizer, with 70% Alcohol
  21. Blumen Antibacterial Fresh Citrus Hand Sanitizer
  22. BLUMEN Clear Advanced Hand Sanitizer
  23. Blumen Clear Advanced Hand Sanitizer with 70% Alcohol
  24. BLUMEN Clear Advanced Instant Hand Sanitizer
  25. BLUMEN Clear Advanced Instant Hand Sanitizer Aloe
  26. BLUMEN Clear Advanced Instant Hand Sanitizer Lavender
  27. BLUMEN Clear LEAR Advanced Hand Sanitizer
  28. Blumen Hand Sanitizer Fresh Citrus
  29. BLUMEN Instant Hand Sanitizer Aloe Vera
  30. BLUMEN Instant Hand Sanitizer Fragrance Free
  31. Britz Hand Sanitizer Ethyl Alcohol 70%
  32. CleanCare NoGerm Advanced Hand Sanitizer 75% Alcohol
  33. CleanCare NoGerm Advanced Hand Sanitizer 80% Alcohol
  34. CleanCare NoGerm Advanced Hand Sanitizer 80% Alcohol
  35. DAESI hand sanitizer
  36. Earths Amenities Instant Unscented Hand Sanitizer with Aloe Vera Advanced
  37. Esk Biochem Hand Sanitizer
  38. Gelclor
  39. Hand sanitizer (labeled with Wet Look Janitorial and Gardening Corp.)
  40. Hand Sanitizer Agavespa Skincare
  41. Hand sanitizer Gel Unscented 70% Alcohol
  42. Hello Kitty by Sanrio Hand Sanitizer
  43. KLAR AND DANVER Instant Hand Sanitizer (labeled with Greenbrier International Inc.)
  45. Lavar 70 Gel Hand Sanitizer
  46. LumiSkin Advance Hand Sanitizer 16 oz
  47. LumiSkin Advance Hand Sanitizer 4 oz
  48. MODESA Instant Hand Sanitizer Moisturizers and Vitamin E
  49. Mystic Shield Protection hand sanitizer
  50. NeoNatural
  51. Optimus Lubricants Instant Hand Sanitizer
  52. Plus Advanced
  53. QualitaMed Hand Sanitizer
  54. Saniderm Advanced Hand Sanitizer
  55. Selecto Hand Sanitizer
  56. Shine and Clean Hand Sanitizer
  57. The Good Gel Antibacterial Gel Hand Sanitizer
  58. The Honeykeeper Hand Sanitizer
  59. 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.