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This article was median reviewed by Tania Elliott, MD, that specializes in infectious diseases regarded allergies and also immunology for interior medicine in ~ NYU Langone Health.
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You are watching: What happens when rubbing alcohol expires


Hand sanitizer is forced to have an expiration date because it's regulation by the FDA. Helin Loik-Tomson/Getty images
Hand sanitizer walk expire, usually about three year after its manufacture date. However, expired hand sanitizer may still have some effectiveness, particularly if that hasn"t been opened yet.
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If girlfriend don"t have accessibility to soap and also water, hand sanitizer deserve to be supplied to kill several of the virus on your hands, or render castle inactive, says Alex Berezow, microbiologist and also Vice president of Scientific interactions at the American board of directors on Science and Health.

Hand sanitizer needs to it is in at least 60% alcohol come be efficient — however it can additionally expire, generally after three years. Here"s what you need to know to have reliable hand sanitizer.

Yes, hand sanitizer does expire

Soon after you popular music the top on her hand sanitizer, it starts to lose effectiveness. That"s since the alcohol inside evaporates over time. After ~ a bottle of hand sanitizer is opened, the alcohol content will decrease as it evaporates.

"If the concentration goes listed below 60% alcohol, then it loses some effectiveness," Berezow says.

The expiration day is a manufacturer"s best guess for when the alcohol content will dip listed below 60%. Many hand sanitizers have actually an expiration date of three years after your manufacture date.

If expired hand sanitizer is your only choice, use it

Hand sanitizers space regulated through the Food and Drug Administration, so they"re required to have an expiration date. However, in a pinch, you can still usage expired hand sanitizer come disinfect her hands. "Some alcohol is better than nothing," Berezow says.

If a party hasn"t to be opened, less of the alcohol will have actually evaporated, therefore a freshly-opened bottle of hand-sanitizer that is past its expiration date will likely be more effective than a bottle that is expired and has already been opened.

If you"re can not to to buy hand sanitizer, you have the right to make her own, but it is much much better to just wash her hands. Bloom emphasizes that — when feasible — washing her hands with soap and also water is constantly preferable to making use of hand sanitizer, specifically at house where you, presumably, always have accessibility to soap and also water.

"It is a negative idea to use hand sanitizers in the home," Bloom says. "People will usage them instead of washing your hands, i beg your pardon is a much better way to get rid of a virus." In addition, hand sanitizer will certainly not properly clean your hands if they space visibly dirty.

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At home, rubbing alcohol is better used come disinfect surfaces, which deserve to limit the variety of germs that you pick up once you touch those surfaces. Just as with hand sanitizer, you"ll desire wipes or a homemade solution with at least 60% alcohol.