But How Long Does Hand Sanitizer Last?

Hand sanitizer, hand sanitizer, hand sanitizer… it’s all we hear these days. Alcohol-based, with or without aloe, using it before or after you wash your hands… It can all be a little overwhelming. Does hand sanitizer expire? Ensure you always check the expiration date!

Here are some things we do know:

  • The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends alcohol based hand sanitizers with at least 60% alcohol content.
  • The most effective method for killing germs is using alcohol based hand sanitizers AFTER you wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. (We recommend at least 60 seconds.)
  • Constant hand sanitization with an alcohol based hand sanitizer can dry out your skin, possibly leading to cracking and even bleeding.

Does Hand Sanitizer Expire?

In surveying the most popular hand sanitizers at our local drug store, we found that the majority of hand sanitizers (both alcohol based and non-alcohol based) have a two to three year shelf life (AKA expiration date). Like with most expiration date based items, this doesn’t necessarily mean they just flat-out STOP working once they hit their expiration date; but it does mean that their effectiveness in killing germs drops off drastically as more and more time passes. Whenever possible, we recommend that you wash your hands with soap and water, as solely relying on hand sanitizer (especially one whose date may have passed) is nowhere near as effective.

So Many to Choose From

With so many hand sanitizers flooding the market thanks to the coronavirus and the inevitable return of cold and flu season, it can be a little daunting to choose the best one. With everything from “who knows if it even works” hand sanitizers emblazoned with the likes of Pokemon and the Incredible Hulk, to the well-respected and widely-used (and often sold out) offerings of industry stalwarts like Purell and Johnson & Johnson, where do you even begin?

  • It’s important to choose and use a hand sanitizer with alcohol in it. There are lots of options out there for sanitizers without alcohol, but they’re just not as effective in killing germs. Sure, they may smell better (AKA, not like vodka), and they may even look a little fancier (some are colorful and smell like fruit, and some even have glitter!), but their effectiveness is nowhere near that of hand sanitizers with alcohol.
  • Again, the WHO and the Center for Disease Control (CDC) recommend sanitizers with AT LEAST 60% alcohol content. Try not to go below. In fact, the more the better. You will see sanitizers with up to 80% alcohol, and trust us, with alcohol as their active ingredient, they do a MUCH BETTER job than, say, unicorn hand sanitizers with glitter and rainbows as its active ingredient.
  • It’s OK to use hand sanitizers with hydrating ingredients such as aloe, as the high alcohol content of hand sanitizer can really dry out your skin. It’s also OK to use hand creams or lotions to help combat the drying effect.
  • Using hand sanitizer alone is nowhere near as effective as using it in combination with hand washing with soap and water. The purpose of hand washing is primarily dirt removal, germ-killing and degreasing, where as hand sanitizers primarily kill germs and sanitize. So for the cleanest, most sanitized hands possible, use hand sanitizer and wash your hands.

But How Long Does Hand Sanitizer Work?

Unfortunately, much like washing your hands with soap and water, hand sanitizer’s germ-killing efficacy only last as long as you keep your hands off things that contain germs. Consider this: if you wash your hands with soap and water, then you pick up a handful of dirt, your hands are dirty again, right? Same goes for sanitizing hands. If you sanitize your hands with hand sanitizer, you are killing the germs that are currently living on your hands at that moment. If ten seconds later you grab a railing in a public place, shake someone’s hand, sneeze, etc. you must then re-sanitize.

So the short (but maybe not so sweet) answer to “How long does hand sanitizer last?” Well, it lasts until you touch something else with germs. Which, unfortunately, can be multiple times a minute. And then you must use it again.


What is the Proper Way to Use Hand Sanitizer?

According to the CDC:

When using hand sanitizer, apply the product to the palm of one hand (read the label to learn the correct amount) and rub the product all over the surfaces of your hands until your hands are dry.

When done properly, this is typically a 10-15 second process.

We have found a great way to get the process right every time. Startup company Origyn champions something called the “SPRITZ method”. Their helpful acronym is a great way to remember the proper way to use hand sanitizer: Spray, Palms, Rub, Interlock (your fingers), Thumbs, Zig-zag.

autoSPRITZ hand sanitizer method
Use this method for germ-free hands

Origyn also offers a hand sanitizer dispenser of the same name. Their autoSPRITZ dispenser comes complete with liquid hand sanitizer whose active ingredient is 80% alcohol (ethanol). The dispenser is perfect for use in home or office. Its zero-touch motion detection device triggers a targeted spray that is capable of sanitizing one or both hands with each use. Used in combination with soap and water, Origyn’s autoSPRITZ is capable of killing 99.99% of sickness-causing germs.

The Final Word

Hand sanitizer is an important tool in keeping germs, viruses and bacteria at bay, especially in the face of the coronavirus pandemic. Having a portable bottle on hand is ideal when hand washing is not an option. And having a dispenser like Origyn’s autoSPRITZ as a permanent fixture in your kitchen, bathroom, office or cubicle helps you cover all bases.

Don’t forget: Choose a hand sanitizer with an alcohol content of over 60% (the higher the better), as a sanitizer with less than the suggestion amount of alcohol is far less effective. Make sure you find one whose expiration date is within two years from today’s date. Sanitize hands for AT LEAST thirty seconds (preferably sixty, or until all of the liquid or gel has dried). Use sanitizer in combination with proper hand washing.

If you need the refills we also carry those in 1L bottles. They are made for the autoSPRITZ hand sanitizer dispensers.  Origyn also has a business solution for your business needs.  As a business owner you will get discount for bulk purchases.

Stay safe. Stay sanitized. Wear a mask in public places. And most of all, take care of each other!