During this COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic, folks have been using hand sanitizers every chance they get. The product certainly comes in handy if soap and water are not readily available. Unfortunately, a few companies are taking advantage of the increased usage of hand sanitizer and putting lives at risk by selling products with such dangerous ingredients as methanol or wood alcohol.

Methanol is a substance that is often used to create fuel and antifreeze. It can be toxic when absorbed through the skin and can be fatal if ingested.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) publicly stated via a press release that they have seen an increase in hand sanitizer products that contain ethanol (or ethyl alcohol) in their ingredients. Some of these products have also tested positive for methanol contamination. Agency officials have received reports about children and adults who have ingested hand sanitizer products contaminated with methanol who have become blind, gravely ill, or died.

“Consumers and health care providers should not use methanol-containing hand sanitizers,” says FDA Commissioner Stephen M. Hahn, M.D. “The FDA remains committed to working with manufacturers, compounders, state boards of pharmacy, and the public to increase the safe supply of alcohol-based hand sanitizers. This includes staying vigilant and continuing to take action when quality issues with hand sanitizers arise.”

In June, the FDA issued a warning not to use several types of hand sanitizers made in Mexico by Esk Biochem. Since then, voluntary recalls have been conducted by several of Eskbiochem’s distributors, and the agency is recommending additional companies recall their hand sanitizer products. The FDA urges consumers to immediately stop using these hand sanitizers and dispose of the bottle in a hazardous waste container, if available, or dispose of as recommended by your local waste management and recycling center. Do not flush or pour these products down the drain or mix with other liquids.

Methanol exposure can also result in nausea, vomiting, headache, blurred vision, seizures, coma, and permanent damage to the nervous system. Although people using these products on their hands are at risk for methanol poisoning, young children who accidentally ingest these products and adolescents and adults who drink them as alcohol (ethanol) substitutes are most at risk.

If you’ve been exposed to hand sanitizer containing methanol and are experiencing symptoms, see a healthcare provider immediately!

FDA reminds consumers to wash their hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after coughing, sneezing, or nose blowing. If soap and water are not handy, an alcohol-based hand sanitizer should be used that contains at least 60 percent ethanol (also referred to as ethyl alcohol).

FDA advises consumers not to use hand sanitizers from these companies, or products with these names or NDC numbers:

  • 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)

For a more complete list of hand sanitizers to altogether avoid, go to the FDA site here, scroll down, and in the search bar put in the name of the sanitizer you’re using to see if it contains methanol.