FDA issues new guidelines for hand sanitizer makers

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Friday, August 14, 2020
FDA issues new guidelines for hand sanitizer makers
After more than 100 products were found to be contaminated with methanol, the agency requires makers to test each lot of active ingredients.

BETHESDA, Maryland (WPVI) -- The Food and Drug Administration has issued new guidelines on hand sanitizer, because of the rising number of products contaminated with methanol.

Early in the pandemic, the FDA relaxed rules to allow distilleries and others to make sanitizer. That has allowed methanol, a dangerous type of alcohol, contamination in more than a hundred products.

Now, makers must test each lot of active ingredients for methanol.

Experts say we shouldn't use only sanitizer to clean hands - that reduces its effectiveness.

"Some will have aloe. Some will have all sorts of fillers and things in it, scents. So you get a little residue as that alcohol kind of dries into your hand. You get that film. And then if you apply it again, you get that film again," said Dr. Matthew Heinz, a hospitalist (internist) at Tucson Medical Center in Arizona.

Dr. Heinz says washing your hands with soap and water in between the sanitizer uses will get rid of the film - and the germs.

When you do use sanitizer, make sure you don't just put it on your palms.

"Similar to the hand-washing procedures, you want to sort of rub one palm on top of the other, do the same on the other side. You want to make sure that you're covering down on your thumbs, on both sides, into your finger-joints, and then around the wrist," said Alexandra Phelan, of Georgetown University School of Medicine.