Does Hand Sanitizer Have An Expiration Date?

Using hand sanitizer is a good way to disinfect your hands when you're out and about and don't have access to soap and water. But did you know that hand sanitizer has an expiration date? Hand sanitizer typically expires after three years. This is because it needs to contain at least 60 percent alcohol in order to remain effective, according to Mental Floss.

As soon as a bottle of hand sanitizer is opened, the alcohol in it begins to evaporate, causing the hand sanitizer to lose its effectiveness. However, this does not mean that you shouldn't use expired hand sanitizer if you absolutely need to. If you don't have any other way of cleaning your hands, even expired hand sanitizer is better than nothing. If the bottle is past its expiration date but unopened, it will likely still have a substantial percentage of its original alcohol content. The higher the percentage of alcohol, the more effective it will be.

Hand sanitizer versus hand washing

While hand sanitizer is a good disinfectant to use on the fly, it is always better to wash your hands whenever you can (via Healthline). Washing your hands frequently with soap and warm water will reduce the amount of germs and bacteria on your hands and will ultimately help prevent the spread of the COVID-19.

"It is a bad idea to use hand sanitizers in the home," Alex Berezow, a microbiologist and the Vice President of Scientific Communications at the American Council on Science and Health, told Insider. "People will use them instead of washing their hands, which is a much better way to get rid of a virus."

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also recommends frequent hand washing because it is a more effective way to get rid of any germs and potentially harmful chemicals on your hands. However, if you do not have access to soap and water, using hand sanitizer will suffice.