Does Hand Sanitizer Expire?

April 9, 2021 (updated January 31, 2023) — Written by

While things are looking up globally, it’s still no time to abandon our safety measures, hand sanitizer included. That’s why we’re talking today about if hand sanitizer expires. Yes, you’re probably still going through it faster than it even has a chance to “go bad,” but in case you’re wondering how long that hand sanitizer can actually last, keep on reading.

woman holding hand sanitizer bottle upside down

Hand sanitizer has been a purse staple for longer than we can remember, but with its meteoric rise to must-have status in the last year, we’ve been investigating its ingredients and fielding questions from the TNK community left and right. The question we get asked the most often? Does my hand sanitizer expire? How do I know when it’s “gone bad”?

We’ve got the surprisingly simple answer.

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Does hand sanitizer expire?

According to FDA guidelines, hand sanitizers are regulated under the over-the-counter drugs category. That means they must list an expiration date unless they’ve explicitly been shown to be shelf stable for more than three years.

Since this is the case, all hand sanitizers (even those manufactured under the FDA’s temporary policy for manufacturing hand sanitizers during an emergency) are required to be labeled with an expiration date.

RELATED: Best All-Natural Hand Sanitizer Swaps for Purell

How do I check if my hand sanitizer is expired?

That actually makes it easy to determine if your hand sanitizer is expired: Check the bottle. Every bottle of hand sanitizer should have an expiration date (it might be hiding on the bottom, FYI).

If your bottle is past its expiration date, toss it. It can’t be guaranteed to be effective. It’s kind of a good rule of thumb when it comes to products that are meant to protect (SPF, hand sanitizers, water or air filters, etc.). If the label says it’s expired, don’t try to stretch it out and potentially risk your health.

How to shop for hand sanitizer

Published literature indicates that ethanol at 70% is highly effective at inactivating enveloped viruses, including strains of coronavirus (source), although the WHO recommends 80%.

That said, we also know that, like any body product, hand sanitizer can have some inactive ingredients that we’d recommend skipping. That’s why we created this easy, all-natural hand sanitizers guide.

What hand sanitizers are your go-to right now?

xo, lisa in cursive

By Lisa Fennessy

Lisa is the founder of The New Knew. Passionate about clean beauty, organic eats and nontoxic lifestyle, Lisa writes to create awareness. Conscious consumerism and informed decisions will impact the marketplace, our health and THE WORLD!


  1. Reply

    Nancy Lapke

    Check the bottle – really?? And if the date is not legible?????!

    1. Reply

      Lisa Fennessy

      THEN THAT’S A PROBLEM! Lol. That’s when you need to reach out to the manufacturer and ask. They will probably ask you for a batch number so if that’s not legible either then who knows!

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