Are Hand Sanitizers Safe for Kids?

Child smiling and holding palmpalm hand sanitizer on the beach, surrounded by palmpalm hand sanitizer gel and wipes

For those of you who have young children at home, there are so many things that you have to think about: their diet, health, sleep, and more – and that’s not including your own well-being. 

I’m sure that safety also comes to the top of mind. 

With the recent emphasis on hand sanitizer usage, safety has naturally come to the top of mind again. A common question from parents about hand sanitizers is whether they are even safe to use on kids. 

Well, you’ve come to the right place to get answers.

To kick off Baby Safety Month, we at palmpalm wanted to share some important information to help you learn more about how to keep your children safe.

Hand Sanitizers and the Kiddos

So, are hand sanitizers safe for kids? 

The answer is yes, when the product is correctly applied according to the instructions found on the bottle’s Drug Facts Label. 

That means coating all surfaces of your hands and rubbing the product into your skin for at least 20 seconds or until it has completely dried. When used incorrectly, hand sanitizer can cause problems for anyone of any age. In regard to children specifically, the biggest risk is the unintentional ingestion of hand sanitizer. 

Kids typically interact with hand sanitizer by licking the product after their parents pour it into their hands or by putting the pump directly into their mouths. This especially happens when children are very young and are experimenting or trying to become familiar with things in their environment. That’s why using hand sanitizer on children below the age of six requires adult supervision in order to avoid such accidents.

When Accidents Happen

Even consuming the smallest amount of hand sanitizer can cause alcohol poisoning in children. The signs to look out for are low blood sugar, sleepiness, and even seizure and coma. However, you don’t have to worry about your kids licking or eating with their hands after applying hand sanitizer. The product should have mostly dried at that point, so the risk is minimal. 

If your child accidentally ingests hand sanitizer, immediately contact a medical professional or poison control. The chemicals in the product can irritate the stomach, cause vomiting or nausea, and other issues. It’s even more important to seek help if you suspect that the product contains methanol as this is an extremely toxic type of alcohol that should never be in hand sanitizer. The effects of methanol ingestion can be extremely severe, even fatal.

For this reason, palmpalm created methanol-free, cruelty-free hand sanitizers so that you don’t have to worry about the safety of you and your little ones. 

Check the FDA’s do-not-use list to ensure that your hand sanitizer is not contaminated with methanol, even if the label states that the product only contains the good kinds of alcohol: isopropyl alcohol (a.k.a isopropanol) or ethanol (a.k.a. ethyl alcohol). If methanol is present, do not flush away or pour the sanitizer down the drain. Reach out to your local waste management and recycling center to obtain information on how to safely dispose of hazardous waste.

Family Safety Comes First

Thankfully, there are things that hand sanitizer companies like palmpalm are doing to combat this accidental ingestion problem. Denaturants are specifically mixed into the alcohol used in sanitizers to prevent children from wanting to ingest the product. The denatured alcohol tastes bad so that kids will have no desire to continue drinking it. Additionally, companies are making sure to include all ingredients and safety instructions on the labels of sanitizer bottles to help educate consumers.

The best thing to do as parents is to monitor your kids when they use hand sanitizer and then to also store the bottles out of reach and sight of your children. Following up on that, you should also teach your kids the importance of hand hygiene, showing them how to properly wash their hands and apply hand sanitizer.

For extra help in teaching them, feel free to check our palmpalm blog as we try to spread as much knowledge and awareness about hand sanitizer usage for everyone in the family, young and old.

If you’re looking for another way to avoid accidental ingestion, an alternative solution is purchasing hand sanitizing wipes. They are just as effective as gel or liquid hand sanitizers, and eliminate the possibility of your children drinking the product.