Shelf Life for Waterless Hand Cleaners


Many manufacturers claim that waterless hand cleaners kill 99.9 percent of germs and bacteria. Waterless hand cleaners come in several forms, and because they are regulated by the Food and Drug Administration, they have expiration dates, beyond which they're less effective (or not effective at all).


  • Most waterless hand cleaners contain around 60 or 70 percent ethyl alcohol. Most hand cleaners claim to kill almost all of the germs on your hands; however, blends containing less than 69 percent ethyl alcohol are not as effective at killing bacteria and germs. Some manufacturers make waterless hand cleaners with a variety of scents, and some come in lotion, foam or spray form, though most come as a gel. No waterless hand cleaner is effective at killing absolutely 100 percent of germs.

Time Frame

  • The shelf life, meaning the amount of time before the product expires, is generally two years; this date (the year and month) is generally printed on the product. The shelf life of waterless hand cleaners can also vary depending on what additives the product contains. For instance, a product with fragrances generally has a shorter shelf life than a sanitizer without added fragrance.


  • When waterless hand cleaners are used during their two-year shelf life, they have several benefits. The Minnesota Department of Health claims that hand sanitizers take less time to use than hand-washing, and they act quickly to kill microorganisms on hands. They can be less irritating on the skin than traditional soap and water.


  • Discard any expired waterless hand cleaners; when a product is expired, manufacturers cannot guarantee its potency. Also, if the product starts to look cloudy or begins to discolor, do not use it, even if it has not yet expired.

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