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Tuesday, January 24, 2023

Repurposing Expired Hand Sanitizer

Quick survey -- how many of you bought or were gifted more hand sanitizer than you or your family could use during the pandemic? Those of you who didn't accumulate excess hand sanitizer -- bravo to you!

Hand sanitizer is dated for expiry. The alcohol-based solutions do not become unsafe to use, but they may become less effective beginning a few months after expiry. In addition to the expiration question, some of us may have simply acquired too much hand sanitizer. 

Our family wound up with far more hand sanitizer than we could use. I bought. couple of bottles in early 2020. Small bottle were gifts with purchase in some stores.  And pleasantly-scented, pocket-size containers were a popular holiday gift in my house in 2020 and 2021. On top of this surplus, one large bottle smelled particularly boozy to some of us, and so was completely avoided. So here I am, lots of partially used bottles of hand sanitizers floating around our house, car, purses and jacket pockets -- some expired, some not -- and I needed to find ways to use the stuff up.

My first thought was it does a great job stripping my hands of natural oils, so it must make a halfway decent degreaser. What I didn't know was that it would also be good at breaking down soap scum. Here's what I've used hand sanitizer on so far: cleaning the bathroom sink, the synthetic solid surface countertop (Corian), the bathtub, chrome faucets and handles, the glass shower doors, the seat and exterior porcelain parts of the toilet, and a hair dye stain on a white cabinet door (required multiple applications and some rubbing, but the stain eventually came out). I was very pleased with how well this worked on the shower doors. I've tried a bunch of different products on the soap scum with mixed success. A rag and some hand sanitizer really got the doors clean. As this is a sanitizer, bathroom cleaning seems to be the perfect use.

In addition to the gel hand sanitizer, I also received some spray alcohol-based sanitizer as gifts. I have found the spray kind makes a great alternative to deodorant. After working around the house and getting a wee bit sweaty, I give a quick spritz under the arms, allow to dry, and I'm fresh smelling once again.

Always nice to find uses for something that might otherwise be discarded.


  1. Thank-you for doing the research Lili. I have a large bottle and wondered what to do. Bathroom shower doors here I come.

    1. Hi Teresa,
      I'm happy to offer these uses for excess hand sanitizer. I also tried it on a small window and some plastic containers today, and it worked well for both uses.

  2. Now I need to go check the dates on our hand sanitizers. We have some leftover from our COVID purchases. When they determined that transmission was only miniscule from touch, we stopped using it so much. However, it is cold and flu season now and washing hands and using sanitizer is recommended. I use hand sanitizer sometimes to get pen or marker off of things.

    1. Hi Live and Learn,
      I use some hand sanitizer still, especially after grocery shopping and having my hands on the cart handles.
      I wondered about using it on pen marks. Thanks for sharing. I'll keep this in mind.

  3. We also probably have some sitting around that has expired. I've read before that you can, in a pinch, use hand sanitizer to manage body odor, but to avoid doing it on a regular basis as it can be drying to your skin.

    1. Hi Kris,
      I haven't tried the gel sanitizer on underarms, but do use the spray version a couple of days per week with no issue. One of my daughters uses a natural deodorant that loses its effectiveness during the day. I suggested she try some sanitizer for those in-between times. I'll also warn her about dryness and irritation as a possibility. She's fairer than I and has more delicate skin. Thanks for the warning, Kris.

  4. My granddaughter uses it on her face for acne medication instead of buying expensive acne medication.She said it works better than anything else and has no reactions.

    1. I had read somewhere that teens and young adults were using dabs of sanitizer on breakouts instead of acne products. When I was a teen, we sometimes used rubbing alcohol, so I imagine this is similar. Thanks for sharing.

  5. We always spritz our hands after shopping as soon as we get in the car. We did that before the pandemic and will continue after. We bought a lot last year on clearance and find many uses. I like the convenience of swiping toilet seats with hand sanitizer, instead of cleansers.


    1. Hi Laura,
      I think you're right about the convenience of wiping a toilet seat with hand sanitizer as opposed to using cleansers that often need rinsing afterward. Great deal that you bought a lot on clearance last year. Even if it passes the expiration date, it will still be good for cleaning and stain removal.


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