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Check the label: What to look for when choosing a hand sanitizer

Whether it’s a gel, liquid or spray, an expert said they’re all equally effective at killing viruses as long as they’re alcohol-based.
Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

LOUISVILLE, Ky. —

Walking the aisles of your local grocery store, you may be noticing more varieties of hand sanitizers. But how can you decipher what’s best? 

Cathy Price, manager of hazardous materials at the University of Louisville, said when it comes to hand sanitizer, it’s buyer beware. 

“You do not want to get an alcohol based hand sanitizer that contains methanol," said Price. “Because methanol is toxic.” 

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration last week warned people should steer clear of hand sanitizer products from Eskbiochem, a company based in Mexico. They discovered methanol in nine brands made by the company

RELATED: FDA warns 9 brands of hand sanitizer may be toxic

“In fact, if you find one you should probably call FDA because it needs to be removed from the shelves," Price said. 

When absorbed through the skin, this type of alcohol can be fatal in large amounts. Instead, Price said look for hand sanitizers that contain more than 60% ethanol or more than 70% isopropanol. 

“Is a higher alcohol content more effective?” asked FOCUS investigative reporter Paula Vasan.

“Not really. As long as they meet the minimum," Price said. 

Noticing a hand sanitizer shortage, Lexington Brewing and Distilling Company has been making their own hand sanitizer.

“Ours is 100% safe. It cannot be consumed. You will get sick before you get drunk on it," said Pete Weiss, Lexington Brewing & Distilling Co. marketing manager.

RELATED: How to make your own hand sanitizer and disinfectant wipes

They’re donating it to first responders.

“It is very liquidy. We didn’t put any gel in it or anything,” Weiss said. 

Price said she’s seeing more sanitizers just like theirs, due to a short supply of aloe vera gel nationwide. 

“There’s a shortage of ingredients," she said. 

She said you just need a dab, roughly a dime-sized amount. 

“Simply because you got to make it last," she said. 

Whether it’s a gel, liquid or spray, Price told us they’re all equally effective at killing viruses as long as they’re alcohol-based. They must also meet the minimum percentages of either ethanol or isopropanol, so it’s important you check the label.

►Contact reporter Paula Vasan at pvasan@whas11.com on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram

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