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'Can I Leave Hand Sanitizer in a Hot Car?'

hand santizer car
By Elizabeth Hanes, BSN, RNAugust 12, 2020

Thanks to the COVID-19 epidemic, people today seem to be preoccupied with killing germs, on everything from the kitchen countertop to their own hands. And our current obsession with hand sanitizer means people carry it everywhere – including leaving a jug of it inside their hot cars.

Is that safe?

Short answer: Yup.

You mean, it won’t explode? Nope.

While these products are flammable – most of them consist of 60-90% alcohol – your car would need to heat up to around 700 degrees Fahrenheit before a container of hand sanitizer would explode or burn on its own, and nobody’s car gets that hot inside. Not even in the hottest regions of the U.S. in the middle of August.

But leaving hand sanitizer in your car could possibly make it less effective.

That’s because exposing your hand sanitizer to sunlight and heat can cause the alcohol in the product to evaporate. If the alcohol evaporates, the percentage of alcohol in the product goes down, and the hand sanitizer may become less effective – which means you may not be killing as many germs on your hands as you thought you were each time you slather it on.

Frequently using hand sanitizer can help stop the spread of the virus that causes COVID-19, so it’s a great idea to carry some with you everywhere. If you do leave a bottle of hand sanitizer in your car, don’t worry that it might explode. Just store it out of direct sunlight (like in the side pocket of the door), make sure it’s tightly capped (air makes alcohol evaporate too!), and be aware that the product may lose some of its effectiveness over time due to alcohol evaporation – so you probably should replace that bottle more frequently.

 

 

 

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