How Long Does Hand Sanitizer Last? | Muse Health

Expiration Date     Hand Sanitizer     Essential     COVID-19

Hand sanitizer has become the go to product for people in industries ranging from healthcare to caregiving. With its antiseptic composition and propensity to kill microbes, hand sanitizer has many benefits that make it a go to item. And while the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) still considers hand washing most effective when attempting to get rid of bacteria, a bottle of hand sanitizer can help decrease the risk of disease and contaminates.

When it comes to hand sanitizer one question that comes up time and time again deals with how long a hand sanitizer lasts. A multi-faceted question, the factors that cause a hand sanitizer to last for longer or shorter amounts of time depend on the formula.

In this article you’ll learn about how long hand sanitizer lasts from a variety of perspectives such as expiration dates as well as once it touches the surfaces of your hands.

Young man reading hand sanitizer label

Does hand sanitizer really expire?

There are certain products that leave people wondering whether they expire or not. Because of its clear consistency and intent of use, hand sanitizers may fool people into thinking that they lose much longer than they do. According to the World Health Organization and the CDC, most hand sanitizers expire within 2 to 3 years. Even after the expiration date, hand sanitizers are still considered safe to use. Expiration dates mark the period of time when a product is considered optimal.  

Because hand sanitizers are regulated and monitored by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), it is required that each bottle has both an expiration date and lot number. This information helps both consumers and companies uncover important information about these products in case something goes wrong.

The reason hand sanitizers expire has to do with the active ingredient, alcohol. Because the recommended alcohol content of 60 percent alcohol is a high dosage, this means that hand sanitizer continually evaporates even when sealed. As this evaporation occurs, the percentage of a hand sanitizer's active ingredient continues lowering until it becomes ineffective.

It is the manufacturer's responsibility to estimate how long it will take for the percentage of alcohol to drop below 90% of the stated alcohol percentage printed on the label. Once a time estimate is established, it becomes the expiration date.

Muse Health Hand Sanitizer on window sill

Expiration dates of handmade sanitizer vs. Muse Health Hand Sanitizer

Because constantly buying hand sanitizers can become costly, many people have resorted to making their own versions of hand sanitizers. With several DIY videos on the subject, creating antibacterial and disinfecting substances seems easy. Although not recommended by health experts, the ingredients and materials needed to create hand sanitizer can be found online or at a homegoods store. One aspect of creating hand sanitizer on your own is the inability to know whether you are measuring the correct amount of ingredients. When a brand says that they use 60% alcohol concentration, there is a team of scientists and researchers working together to make the most accurate formula possible.

And once those formulas are created, each and every bottle is quality tested to see that it equals company and FDA standards. Homemade formulas do not have that kind of supervision errors happen to people with years of experience.

Because a homemade formula may not have the correct percentage of alcohol needed to be effective, creating an expiration date becomes almost impossible. If you did create an excellent formula, another obstacle is finding out how to store it. Because even airtight seals are not impenetrable, the expiration date is directly related to your ability to prevent loss.

The Muse Health brand has created two different hand sanitizers, one with geranium and sugar scent and another that is fragrance free. Both formulas use 62% ethyl (ethanol) alcohol as its active ingredient. By looking at the bottom of a bottle, you will locate both the expiration date and lot number. These hand sanitizers have a shelf life of between 2.5 to 3 years from the date of manufacture. Proper storage helps preserve the performance and integrity of these products. A major aspect of hand hygiene is using products that act as intended.  

Young girl using hand sanitizer

How long does hand sanitizer last on your hands?

Another layer to the question of how long does hand sanitizer last speaks to its interaction on hands. Containing the fast acting active ingredient of alcohol, hand sanitizers work by breaking down cell walls and killing the organelles inside. As alcohol comes into contact with the skin, it immediately begins clearing and evaporating on the surface. That is why it is important to remove debris or dirt from hands before using a sanitizer. If any obstacle is present, the solution will not make it to the hands before evaporating.  

According to several studies and interviews with health experts, it is believed that hand sanitizer lasts for 2 minutes after coming in contact with skin. This number may be more or less than you expected. While some companies claim that the effects of hand sanitizer last for hours, that is not possible. That is why it is important to practice proper hand washing technique to further eliminate any microbes left behind by sanitizing agents.

For non alcohol based sanitizers, its effects last for even shorter periods of time. With hand sanitizers it is important to remember that they help to eliminate the majority of infectious disease causing bacterial agents. However, make sure to wash your hands after touching something like trash or harmful chemicals.

Muse Health Hand Sanitizer and Mask

Hand Sanitizer is Essential

While having soap and water present would be nice, it is realistic. Hand sanitizer has become an alternative solution for those moments when a little added protection is needed. In a world of COVID and other illnesses, having a product you can trust is important. To learn more about types of hand sanitizers to avoid, click here. Taking the time to fully understand hand sanitizers and how they work will help you make a better decision regarding your health.