9 Brands of Hand Sanitizer May Be Toxic, FDA Says

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is warning consumers not to use certain hand sanitizers due to the possible presence of methanol or wood alcohol, which can be toxic when absorbed through the skin or ingested. Friday, the FDA issued a warning to people, advising them not to use nine hand sanitizer products manufactured by Mexico-based Eskbiochem SA de CV in Mexico.

The FDA said the manufacturer rebuffed its request that it remove the "potentially dangerous products" from the U.S. market after agency tests found that samples of its Lavar Gel contained 81 percent methanol and samples of CleanCare No Germ contained 28 percent. Methanol "is not an acceptable ingredient for hand sanitizers and should not be used due to its toxic effects," the FDA stated. The agency advised consumers to immediately stop using these products, which is warned should be immediately discarded in hazardous waste containers. "Do not flush or pour these products down the drain," the announcement reads.

At this point in time, when hand sanitizer demand has skyrocketed due to the coronavirus pandemic, the FDA said it had not received any reports of adverse effects from using these hand sanitizer products. People who have been exposed to hand sanitizer containing methanol should seek immediate treatment, the FDA said, as quick treatment is critical in reversing the potentially toxic effects of methanol poisoning. Methanol exposure can result in nausea, vomiting, headache, blurred vision, permanent blindness, seizures, coma, permanent damage to the nervous system or death. All people are at risk who use these products, but the FDA warns that young children who accidentally ingest these products and adolescents and adults who drink these products as an alcohol substitute are most at risk for methanol poisoning.

The nine hand sanitizer products listed as hazardous by the FDA are:

  • All-Clean Hand Sanitizer (NDC: 74589-002-01)
  • Esk Biochem Hand Sanitizer (NDC: 74589-007-01)
  • CleanCare NoGerm Advanced Hand Sanitizer 75% Alcohol (NDC: 74589-008-04)
  • Lavar 70 Gel Hand Sanitizer (NDC: 74589-006-01)
  • The Good Gel Antibacterial Gel Hand Sanitizer (NDC: 74589-010-10)
  • CleanCare NoGerm Advanced Hand Sanitizer 80% Alcohol (NDC: 74589-005-03)
  • CleanCare NoGerm Advanced Hand Sanitizer 75% Alcohol (NDC: 74589-009-01)
  • CleanCare NoGerm Advanced Hand Sanitizer 80% Alcohol (NDC: 74589-003-01)
  • Saniderm Advanced Hand Sanitizer (NDC: 74589-001-01)

"FDA remains vigilant and will continue to take action when quality issues arise with hand sanitizers," the agency concluded. "Additionally, the agency is concerned with false and misleading claims for hand sanitizers, for example that they can provide prolonged protection such as 24-hours against viruses including COVID-19, since there is no evidence to support these claims."