Hand Sanitizer: Keeping Hands Germfree Safely

Kids lead with their senses. If something smells like candy, it must taste like it. And if it has glitter in it, it just might be pretty enough to eat. That's why hand sanitizer looks so delicious to them. But swallowing just two to three squirts of certain hand sanitizers can make them really sick – even to the point of alcohol poisoning. By taking some quick and easy precautions, you can help keep your kids safer.


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  • Use Safely

    • Hand sanitizer is one of the most popular germ-fighting products out there, but it can be really dangerous if kids swallow it. Using the right amount of hand sanitizer the right way is important. Here’s how:
      • Put a dime-sized amount on a child’s dry hands and have them rub their hands together until they’re completely dry.
      • Remind children to keep their hands out of their mouths after applying it.
      • Kids like to eat with their hands. Try to use soap and water to wash-up before meals and snacks so they don’t get hand sanitizer in their mouths.
      • Supervise kids when they’re using hand sanitizer, and teach older kids how to apply it properly on their own.
  • What To Do

    • Did you know most hand sanitizers contain 60% ethyl alcohol? That’s stronger than the concentration in most hard liquors. To protect your kids in your home:
      • Keep hand sanitizer out of their reach and only allow them to use it when an adult is supervising them.
      • Avoid buying hand sanitizer that looks or smells fruity so your child will be less tempted to try a taste.
      • If you can, consider using sanitizing wipes, liquids or foams that are not alcohol-based.
  • During an Emergency

    • Symptoms of alcohol poisoning
      • Can't think clearly
      • Throwing up
      • Can’t stay awake
      • Breathing slowly or irregularly
      • Looking blue or pale
      • Shivering
    • Call the Poison Help number at 1-800-222-1222 right away if you think your child has swallowed hand sanitizer. Don’t wait for symptoms to develop.
    • Call 911 if your child shows symptoms of alcohol poisoning.

Did You Know?

Each year, Poison Centers manage over 17,000 hand sanitizer exposures in children 12 years and younger.

- American Association of Poison Control Centers