Hand Sanitizers: How Toxic Are They?

Posted in:
Tweens / Teens
Cosmetics and personal care products

Recently, an email has circulated warning parents not to use hand sanitizers due to the danger they pose to children.  And while hand sanitizers can be dangerous if swallowed, actual symptoms from their misuse are extremely rare.  Most children who get a “taste” or a “lick” of hand sanitizer experience only mild symptoms, if any, and can be safely managed at home with the assistance of the Poison Center.  Hand sanitizer taste bad and can result in a burning sensation, so most children will not swallow an amount large enough to produce symptoms.  However, there are children who will drink anything, no matter how bad it tastes – and in those cases alcohol poisoning can result.  The same thing can occur if mouthwash or perfume is swallowed.  The bottom line is – hand sanitizers are beneficial for killing germs on hands and like all potentially poisonous items, they should be stored out of the reach of children and should be used according to the label.  Adults should monitor use of hand sanitizer by children to ensure that the proper amount is used and that hands wet with sanitizer are not put in the mouth.  Also, avoid buying large containers of sanitizer.  If a child only has access to a small bottle (30mL or less), they are less likely to ingest enough to result in harm.  If hand sanitizer is swallowed (or splashed in eyes), contact the Texas Poison Center Network at 1-800-222-1222 for advice.


  • Apply a dime-sized amount to dry hands
  • Rub hands together until completely dry
  • Always monitor use by children

Remember…If any amount is ingested, call the Texas Poison Center Network at 1-800-222-1222.