How To Dispose Of Hand Sanitizer

How To Dispose Of Hand Sanitizer?

There you are, staring at those expired hand sanitizer bottles cluttering your space, wondering how to dispose of them safely. It’s enough to make your head spin, right? You’re not alone in this struggle, and that’s exactly why we’re here to help.

The truth is, improper disposal of hand sanitizer is more than just an eyesore; it’s a ticking time bomb for the environment and our health. Think clogged pipes, contaminated water, and a nagging sense of guilt that lingers long after. But fear not, for there is a better way.

In this blog, we’ll tackle the ins and outs of hand sanitizer disposal, equipping you with the knowledge to make environmentally conscious choices. No more cringing at your own mistakes or putting Mother Earth at risk. So, gear up and prepare to absorb some serious wisdom. In the following section, we’ll reveal the ultimate guide to disposing of hand sanitizer safely, efficiently, and without any stress. Stay tuned!

Classification of Hand Sanitizer

Hand sanitizers come in various forms, including gels, liquids, and sprays, and can be classified into two main categories, which are:

1. Alcoholic

Hand sanitizers that contain alcohol as the active ingredient are classified as alcoholic hand sanitizers. These types of sanitizers are highly effective in killing germs and bacteria, and they are widely used in hospitals, clinics, and other healthcare facilities. 

According to the National Library of Medicine, the alcohol content in these sanitizers typically ranges from 60% to 95%, and the higher the alcohol content, the more effective the sanitizer is in killing germs.

Furthermore, a study done by the Faculty of Education and Health, University of Greenwich found that alcohol-based hand sanitizers were more effective at reducing bacterial counts on hands than soap and water in a healthcare setting.

2. Non-alcoholic

Hand sanitizers that do not contain alcohol as the active ingredient are classified as non-alcoholic hand sanitizers. Instead, as per the National Library of Medicine, they typically contain other antimicrobial agents, such as benzalkonium chloride, triclosan, or essential oils to kill germs. 

These types of sanitizers are often preferred by people who have sensitive skin or allergies to alcohol, as they are generally gentler on the skin. However, they may not be as effective in killing certain types of germs as alcoholic sanitizers.

How To Dispose Of Hand Sanitizer

How to Dispose of Hand Sanitizer

In a world where hand sanitizers have become an indispensable part of our daily lives, it’s vital to know how to dispose of them responsibly. The environment depends on it. Here’s your ultimate guide to the disposal of alcoholic and non-alcoholic hand sanitizers, complete with essential tips and detailed instructions.

1. Alcoholic Hand Sanitizer

A. Storage Solutions

For partially used bottles of hand sanitizer, consider storing them for future use. Find a cool, dry spot away from direct sunlight and heat sources to keep the sanitizer in optimal condition. Ensure the cap is tightly sealed to prevent alcohol evaporation. When you’re ready to use it again, give the bottle a good shake.

For larger quantities, exercise caution as the University of Texas at Austin’s Fire Prevention Services warns that alcohol-based hand sanitizer (AHBS) is highly flammable and presents a fire risk. According to Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) regulations, quantities of 25 gallons or more of flammable liquids must be stored in a flammable-liquid storage cabinet, even if distributed across smaller containers.

B. Recycling Bottles

Empty alcoholic hand sanitizer bottles can join other plastic in your recycling bin. However, if the bottle still contains sanitizer, avoid recycling as it might contaminate the recycling stream. Instead, use up the sanitizer and then recycle the empty container.

For unused or expired alcoholic hand sanitizer, treat it as hazardous waste and contact a waste disposal company. Your city or county’s waste management department can direct you to a local hazardous waste facility.

C. Disposal Companies

Disposal companies specialize in safely and responsibly disposing of hazardous materials, including alcohol-based hand sanitizers. They often supply containers for sanitizer disposal and handle transportation to a suitable facility. When selecting a disposal company, ensure they are licensed and certified to manage hazardous materials. Research their reviews and reputation to confirm their responsible disposal practices.

2. Non-Alcoholic Hand Sanitizer

A. Down the Drain

Generally, it’s not recommended to pour non-alcoholic hand sanitizer down the drain, as it contains chemicals that can harm the environment. If you must dispose of it this way, pour small amounts and flush with plenty of water to dilute the chemicals.

B. Trash Disposal

When disposal down the drain isn’t an option, non-alcoholic hand sanitizer can be thrown in the trash. However, the amount you can discard may be limited by the specific product and local regulations.

To determine the appropriate disposal quantity, consult the product label or your local waste management guidelines. Following these instructions carefully is crucial to minimize any potential harm to the environment.

Things to Avoid with Alcoholic Sanitizer

Dispose Of Hand Sanitizer

Alcoholic sanitizers play a vital role in keeping our hands clean, but using them improperly can lead to adverse effects. Here are six crucial things to remember when handling alcoholic sanitizer:

Consumption is dangerous: With an alcohol content of 60-95%, alcoholic sanitizer is toxic if ingested. Even small amounts can trigger nausea, vomiting, and dizziness. Keep sanitizers out of reach of children to avoid accidental ingestion.

Not for pets: Designed for humans, alcoholic sanitizers can cause harmful reactions in pets. The FDA warns that pets may experience drooling, vomiting, difficulty breathing, or even fatal outcomes. Keep alcoholic sanitizers away from pets and opt for pet-friendly alternatives.

Stay away from flames: The high flammability of alcoholic sanitizers makes them unsafe to use near open flames or heat sources like candles, gas stoves, or cigarettes. The quick evaporation of alcohol increases the risk of combustion.

Use sparingly: Excessive use of alcoholic sanitizer can lead to skin dryness and irritation. Apply it only when necessary, and consider using a moisturizer afterward to combat dryness.

Don’t mix with other chemicals: Combining alcoholic sanitizer with other chemicals or cleaning agents can cause harmful or toxic chemical reactions. Use the sanitizer independently to avoid these risks.

Caution for sensitive skin: Alcoholic sanitizers can be harsh on delicate skin. If your skin is sensitive, use the sanitizer sparingly and follow up with a moisturizer to minimize irritation.

Alternative Uses for Hand Sanitizer

While hand sanitizer is primarily known for its germ-killing properties, it also has a range of other practical applications. Here are some lesser-known uses for hand sanitizer that might surprise you:

Sanitizing surfaces: You can employ hand sanitizer to disinfect various surfaces, such as tables, door handles, and countertops. Apply a dab of sanitizer to a cloth and thoroughly wipe down the desired area.

Eliminating ink stains: Hand sanitizer can effectively remove ink stains from clothing and fabrics. Gently rub a small quantity onto the affected area before laundering as usual.

Freshening up shoes: Hand sanitizer is useful for deodorizing footwear. Dab a small amount inside the shoes and let it dry to eliminate unpleasant odors.

Cleaning eyewear: To clean your eyeglasses or sunglasses, use a small amount of hand sanitizer on a microfiber cloth and gently wipe down the lenses.

Deterring insects: The alcohol content in hand sanitizer can help ward off bugs such as mosquitoes and flies. Apply a few drops to exposed skin to deter these pests.

Disinfecting jewelry: Hand sanitizer can effectively clean and sanitize jewelry, particularly rings and bracelets that frequently come into contact with your skin.

Dissolving adhesive residue: Hand sanitizer can break down the stubborn residue left by stickers or tape. Use it to tackle sticky spots on various surfaces.

Erasing nail polish: In a pinch, hand sanitizer can double as a nail polish remover. Apply some to a cotton pad and gently rub it over the polish.

Igniting a fire: Hand sanitizer can be used as a fire-starter due to its alcohol content. Add a small amount to your kindling and ignite it to start a fire quickly and easily.


How to dispose of expired hand sanitizer?

Expired hand sanitizer should be disposed of properly to prevent any harm to the environment. The best way to get rid of it is to use it if possible. If the sanitizer is not usable, it should be treated as hazardous waste and disposed of accordingly. Plus, you can consider donating it to a local organization, such as a homeless shelter or school, that may still be able to use it. Remember, expired hand sanitizer may not be as effective at killing germs, so it’s important to check the expiration date and replace it regularly.

Why is Hand Sanitizer Flammable?

Hand sanitizer is flammable because it contains alcohol, specifically ethanol, which is highly flammable. When the alcohol in the hand sanitizer evaporates, it leaves behind a concentration of alcohol vapor in the air. If the concentration of alcohol vapor is high enough, it can ignite when exposed to a spark or flame. This is why hand sanitizer should always be stored away from heat sources and flames, and should not be used near an open flame or while smoking.

How much hand sanitizer be thrown in the trash?

Non-alcoholic hand sanitizer should be thrown away in the trash according to the instructions on the product label or as per the guidelines provided by your local waste management regulations. It is essential to follow the disposal instructions carefully to prevent any potential harm to the environment.

Final Note

Hand sanitizer has become an essential part of our daily routine, especially during the ongoing pandemic. However, it is equally important to discard it safely to avoid any harm to ourselves and the environment.

By following the guidelines mentioned above, you can ensure the proper disposal of hand sanitizers and contribute towards a healthy and sustainable future. Remember, every small step counts, and we all have a responsibility toward our planet. So, let’s do our part and dispose of hand sanitizers responsibly.

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