A teen who drank sanitizer is held by her mom

The Center for Disease Control (CDC) has reported a rising incidence of children intentionally drinking alcohol-based hand sanitizers to achieve intoxication. (1) To make matters worse, the trend is much more common than you may think.

Here we take a look at what every parent should know about the trend of drinking hand sanitizer in order to get intoxicated.

Why drink hand sanitizer?

While the thought of drinking hand sanitizer indeed sounds absurd, it makes more sense A mom puts hand sanitizer on her daughters hands than one might think. Hand sanitizers are often times made of ethanol, which is the same type of alcohol that is in traditional spirits.

Furthermore, hand sanitizers often times contain 95% ethanol, making them incredibly strong if drank. Drinking hand sanitizer, however, is much more dangerous than drinking normal alcohol. (2)

Why is drinking hand sanitizer so dangerous?

Drinking hand sanitizer is extremely dangerous for several reasons. First, it alcohol content is often times 60-95%, which can quickly lead to alcohol poison when ingested. Many hand sanitizers do not actually contain ethanol; rather, they contain isopropanol. While isopropanol produces effects similar to ethanol, one of its metabolites is toxic after as little as 100-mL has been ingested.

Hand sanitizer also contains several ingredients not intended for ingestion, such as ingredients for scent. Finally, with hand sanitizers often times being located in most households and over the counter, their ready availability to children makes them a danger. (3)

What are the health consequences of drinking hand sanitizer?

Drinking hand sanitizer can lead to several negative health effects. The following have been demonstrated with hand sanitizer abuse (4):

  • Alcohol poisoning
  • Liver damage
  • Nervous system damage
  • Blindness
  • Vomiting
  • Abdominal pain

So what do the statistics say?

Studies on the incidence of hand sanitizer ingestion make it clear that every parent should be aware of the emerging trend. Videos have surfaced on the internet in the last five years describing methods to crudely extract the alcohol content.

True Recovery

2015 saw nearly 20,000 people being admitted to the emergency room due to hand sanitizer ingestion. Another study found that the number of children aged 6 to 19 who claimed to have intentionally drunk hand sanitizer tripled in the period from 2005 to 2009. (5)

Final Note

This article is intended for those considering a new way of life, free of the pain of drug and alcohol addiction. For more information on recovery and anyone seeking help with addiction and substance abuse problems, please call True Recovery at (844) 744-8783 or visit us online.


  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3408316/
  2. https://www.forbes.com/sites/brucelee/2017/03/04/cdc-findings-warns-you-to-check-if-your-child-is-drinking-hand-sanitizer/#55cb3bb4675b
  3. https://www.mdedge.com/clinicianreviews/article/156856/toxicology/ethanol-intoxication-hand-sanitizer-ingestion
  4. https://www.pharmacytimes.com/contributor/jennifer-gershman-pharmd-cph/2017/03/3-things-you-should-know-about-ingestion-of-alcohol-based-hand-sanitizer