The Latest on the Safe Use of Hand Sanitizer

Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, we have been overwhelmed by the daily flood of statistics and articles on everything from the number of cases to the search for a vaccine. Here, the federal Food and Drug Administration, which oversees the safety and efficacy of drugs and medicine for illnesses, answers questions on the current research findings about the correct use of hand sanitizers and soap:

Q: Am I at risk for COVID-19 from taking FDA-approved drugs made outside the United States?

A: Currently, there is no evidence to support transmission of COVID-19 associated with imported goods, including food and drugs for humans and pets. There have not been any cases of COVID-19 in the United States associated with imported goods.

  1. Is hand sanitizer effective against COVID-19?
  2. The best way to prevent the spread of infections and decrease the risk of getting sick is by washing your hands with plain soap and water, advises the federal Centers for Disease Control (CDC). Washing hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds is essential, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after coughing, sneezing, or blowing one’s nose.

If soap and water aren’t available, CDC recommends consumers use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol. The FDA is warning consumers about hand sanitizers that contain methanol (wood alcohol) because it is a dangerous and toxic substance. The FDA advises consumers not to use hand sanitizers from companies on this list.


Take our hand sanitizer quiz and test your knowledge.

  1. What do I do if I get a rash or other reaction to hand sanitizer?
  2. Call your doctor if you experience a serious reaction to hand sanitizer. The FDA encourages consumers and health care professionals to report adverse events experienced with the use of hand sanitizers to the FDA’s MedWatch Adverse Event Reporting program:

Complete and submit the report online.

Or download and complete the form, then submit it via fax at 1-800-FDA-0178.

Include as much information as you can about the product that caused the reaction, including the product name, the manufacturer, and the lot number (if available).


For the most up-to-date information from the federal government on COVID-19, click here.

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