• The FDA has updated its earlier warnings and identified nearly 60 hand sanitizer brands that contain methanol, a substance that is toxic to humans and potentially deadly.
  • When absorbed through the skin, methanol can sometimes lead to permanent blindness.
  • When buying hand sanitizer, make sure that it contains at least 60% ethyl alcohol — but also ensure that it’s not from any of the brands listed below.

With the number of new coronavirus cases on the rise in more than a dozen states, adhering to COVID-19 safety measures like social distancing and mask-wearing is as important today as it was a few months ago. In a similar vein, washing one’s hands regularly — either with soap and water or hand sanitizer — should remain a part of everyone’s day-to-day routine.

If you’re picking up hand sanitizer, you should be aware that some brands contain methanol (wood alcohol) that can be extremely toxic to humans when absorbed through the skin. In fact, the FDA in recent weeks has warned that upwards of 60 hand sanitizer brands — all with methanol — should be avoided at all costs.

When applied to the skin, methanol can cause a range of health problems, including seizures, vomiting, and permanent blindness. There have even been tragic stories in recent months of children ingesting methanol-based hand sanitizer and dying as a result.

The FDA writes:

Consumers who have been exposed to hand sanitizer containing methanol should seek immediate treatment, which is critical for potential reversal of toxic effects of methanol poisoning. Substantial methanol exposure can result in nausea, vomiting, headache, blurred vision, permanent blindness, seizures, coma, permanent damage to the nervous system or death. Although all persons using these products on their hands are at risk, young children who accidentally ingest these products and adolescents and adults who drink these products as an alcohol (ethanol) substitute, are most at risk for methanol poisoning.

The most recent additions to the list of hand sanitizers that should be avoided are manufactured by Real Clean Distribuciones of La Loma, Tlalnepantla, Mexico and include the following:

  • Born Basic ANTI-BAC HAND SANITIZER
  • Scent Theory KEEP CLEAN Moisturizing Hand Sanitizer
  • Scent Theory KEEP IT CLEAN Moisturizing Hand Sanitizer
  • Lux Eoi Hand Sanitizing Gel to the consumer level

The FDA notes:

Real Clean Distribuciones SA de CV is notifying its distributors by recall letter and consumers via this press release. Real Clean Distribuciones SA de CV is arranging for the return and refund of all recalled products.

Consumers/distributors/retailers that have the product subject to this recall should stop using/distributing/selling Hand Sanitizer and return it to the place of purchase; because the affected products are considered hazardous materials, do not destroy the affected products.

Per the FDA, most hand sanitizers with methanol are manufactured in Mexico which should make them relatively easy to spot. It’s also worth noting that you should only buy a bottle of hand sanitizer if it has at least 60% ethyl alcohol.

Some other hand sanitizer brands that were banned earlier in the month can be seen below:

  • Grupo Insoma’s Hand Sanitizer Gel Unscented, 70% alcohol
  • Transliquid Technologies’ Mystic Shield Protection Hand Sanitizer
  • Soluciones Cosmeticas’ Bersih Hand Sanitizer Gel Fragrance Free
  • Soluciones Cosmeticas’ Antiseptic Alcohol 70% Topical Solution
  • Hand Sanitizer
  • Tropicosmeticos’ Britz Hand Sanitizer Ethyl Alcohol 70%
  • All-Clean Hand Sanitizer
  • Esk Biochem Hand Sanitizer
  • CleanCare NoGerm Advanced Hand Sanitizer 75% Alcohol
  • Lavar 70 Gel Hand Sanitizer
  • The Good Gel Antibacterial Gel Hand Sanitizer
  • CleanCare NoGerm Advanced Hand Sanitizer 80% Alcohol
  • CleanCare NoGerm Advanced Hand Sanitizer 75% Alcohol
  • CleanCare NoGerm Advanced Hand Sanitizer 80% Alcohol
  • Saniderm Advanced Hand Sanitizer

Note that you’re not likely to find these in stores anymore, but if you happen to have an existing bottle at home, it should be disposed of properly per the FDA note above.

A life long Mac user and Apple enthusiast, Yoni Heisler has been writing about Apple and the tech industry at large for over 6 years. His writing has appeared in Edible Apple, Network World, MacLife, Macworld UK, and most recently, TUAW. When not writing about and analyzing the latest happenings with Apple, Yoni enjoys catching Improv shows in Chicago, playing soccer, and cultivating new TV show addictions, the most recent examples being The Walking Dead and Broad City.