The CDC says that washing hands with soap and water is the best way to get rid of germs in most situations.
But sometimes it’s just not possible to wash with soap and water, so we turn to hand sanitizers to rid us of germs. For example, when finished pumping gas you hop in your car and apply some hand sanitizer before starting up your car.
Not only is this okay, but the CDC encourages the use of 60 percent alcohol-based hand sanitizer when soap and water are not readily available.
But not all alcohol is the same. In July, ABC News reported on the FDA’s recall of 75 hand sanitizer brands due to toxic levels of wood alcohol, which can cause injury or even death.
Despite the labels claiming to contain ethyl alcohol (aka ethanol), these hand sanitizers tested positive for wood alcohol (aka methanol). ABC reports that if methanol is absorbed through the skin, it can cause blindness, hospitalizations, and even death if ingested.
Is every hand sanitizer a danger? Absolutely not.
Is the hand sanitizer you have in your car made of methanol? Possibly.
If you want to check your stock of hand sanitizer for deadly methanol contamination, go to the FDA’s searchable list for identification.