Is Hand Sanitizer Bad for Kids?

Mother pouring hand sanitizer for her daughter

Hand sanitizers are essential when we cannot access water and soap is not available. They are also a preferred choice for cleaning hands when caring for young children to help prevent the spread of germs. However, the question many people ask is, is hand sanitizer bad for kids?

Is Hand Sanitizer Bad for Kids? 

Hand sanitizer is not bad for kids. However, they can be in danger if ingested in high quantities. Most hand sanitizers contain ethyl alcohol, isopropyl alcohol, wood alcohol(methanol), and other chemicals. These ingredients have a high alcohol content that is poisonous if ingested.Teacher spraying sanitizer for his students

Hand sanitizers can also cause skin burns if not used properly. Rubbing alcohol can be very drying to the skin, so it is important not to overuse hand sanitizers. When using hand sanitizer to clean your hands, make sure to rub it in completely and allow it to dry completely. This will help to prevent skin irritation.

Always use soap and water to clean your hands and kill germs whenever possible after or before changing your kid’s diapers. If hand sanitizers are your last option, ensure that they are children safe and use them sparingly. Also, keep hand sanitizers out of reach of children to prevent accidental ingestion.

Why Is Hand Sanitizer Dangerous to Ingest?

Most hand sanitizers are alcohol-based and often than not taste bitter. This, unfortunately, means that kids are likely to want to drink it when they see it. This is because these hand sanitizers contain a high percentage of alcohol, which is poisonous if ingested in large quantities.

For instance, ethanol, the main alcohol found in most hand sanitizers, is metabolized in the liver and can cause intoxication, coma, or even death if too much is consumed. Other ingredients found in hand sanitizers, such as isopropyl alcohol and methanol, can also be toxic if ingested in high doses.

Kids are especially at risk for poisoning if they drink hand sanitizer because they often have smaller body sizes and are not able to metabolize alcohol as well as adults. This means that a smaller amount of hand sanitizer can have a more serious effect on them.

What Are the Types of Alcohol in Hand Sanitizers?

Most hand sanitizers are alcohol-based, and they come in different types of alcohol. The most common types of alcohol found in hand sanitizers are:


Ethanol is the main type of alcohol found in hand sanitizers, and it is responsible for the sanitizing effects. It is a colorless, flammable liquid that is the intoxicating agent in alcoholic drinks. Its high alcohol content makes it a potential poison if ingested in high quantities.Little boy spraying hand sanitizer on his hands

Isopropyl Alcohol

Isopropyl alcohol, also known as rubbing alcohol, is a type of alcohol used to cleanse the skin and disinfect surfaces. It is often found in hand sanitizers and is responsible for the skin-drying effects.


Methanol, also known as wood alcohol, is a type of alcohol used as a solvent and in fuel. It is also found in hand sanitizers and can be poisonous if ingested in high doses. Be cautious when using hand sanitizers containing methanol around your kids, and follow the guidelines to use them safely.

How to Use Hand Sanitizers Safely

Although hand sanitizers can be dangerous if ingested, they are still an effective way to clean your hands and kill germs even around your kids. To use them safely, make sure to follow these guidelines:

  • Rub hand sanitizer in completely and allow it to dry before touching anything else. This will help to prevent skin irritation.
  • Only use hand sanitizers if soap and water are not available. It should be the last resort.
  • Keep hand sanitizers out of reach of children to prevent accidental ingestion. If your kid swallows hand sanitizer by accident, seek medical attention immediately or contact the poison control center.

Is Homemade Hand Sanitizer a Good Idea?

Though CDC recommends washing hands with water and soap, there are times when soap and water are not readily available. In these cases, using a homemade hand sanitizer can be a good alternative.

Any homemade hands with an alcohol content of at least 60% will effectively kill germs. Ensure you follow the safety guidelines when making your own hand sanitizer and keep it out of reach of children.

The ingredients should include:

  • Alcohol, such as vodka or gin
  • Distilled water
  • Peppermint essential oil (optional)
  • Tea tree oil (optional)
  • Lemon or lime (optional)

If you choose to use essential oils, add just a few drops to the alcohol and water mixture. Be careful not to add too many, as the oils can irritate the skin. You can also turn to alcohol-free hand sanitizers that are readily available in the market.Mother pouring hand sanitizer for her daughter

How Do You Dispose of Recalled Hand Sanitizers?

The EPA recommends that you dispose of any recalled hand sanitizers in the trash. Do not pour them down the drain, as this can contaminate water supplies. If you have a large amount of hand sanitizer to dispose of, contact your local waste management company for advice.

Also, notify anyone you know who may have bought the recalled product. They should stop using it and dispose of it properly in a safe manner.



GlanHealth™ addresses child and public safety with alcohol-free, water-based hand and skin sanitizer formulations that contain the QAC benzalkonium chloride (BZK, an FDA approved active ingredient in hand sanitizer). Avoid the sting with GlanHealth™ hand sanitizers and skin repair formulations that soften skin with repeated use.

Related Questions

What Should You Do if Your Child Ingested Hand Sanitizer?

The best thing to do is to seek medical attention immediately. You can also call the poison control center for advice and help.

What Are the Dangers of Hand Sanitizers for Children?

The dangers of hand sanitizers for children are largely due to the high alcohol content. If ingested, hand sanitizers can cause intoxication, poisoning, and even death. In addition, hand sanitizers can cause skin irritation if overused.

Is It Safe to Use Hand Sanitizers Instead of Soap and Water?

Yes, it is safe to use hand sanitizers instead of soap and water, as long as they contain at least 60% alcohol. However, it is always best to use soap and water when available, as they are more effective in removing dirt and germs.


Hand sanitizers products effectively kill bacteria, which is why they’re so popular. However, they also can contain alcohol, which can harm kids if exposed to them in large quantities. Kids are more susceptible to the detrimental effects of alcohol than adults are, so it’s essential to be careful when using it.