Homemade hand sanitizers may present health risks

Health Canada is warning Canadians about the potential health risks of making and using homemade hand sanitizers, as homemade recipes and products are becoming increasingly common online.

If you have made or used homemade hand sanitizer products, stop using them as the concentration of alcohol in many of these recipes may not be high enough to kill the coronavirus that causes COVID-19. Homemade formulas may also present other health risks, such as skin irritation, increased sensitivity or allergies.

Health Canada does not recommend making your own hand sanitizer, no matter what the recipe is. Even a reputable formula, such as the one recommended by the World Health Organization, it is not appropriate to make the product at home. That recipe is intended for use by licensed producers, which manufacture it in a controlled environment so the final concentration of ingredients is accurate.

One of the best ways to prevent the spread of infection is to wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. When that is not an option, use effective Health Canada-approved hand sanitizer that has an alcohol concentration of at least 60%. For other prevention tips, consult the Government of Canada’s About Coronavirus factsheet.

Health Canada recommends using only hand sanitizers that have been authorized for sale in Canada. Product labels for authorized hand sanitizers will have either a Natural Product Number (NPN) or Drug Identification Number (DIN). Some breweries, wineries and distilleries are beginning to market hand sanitizer products to help limit the spread of COVID-19. These products will also display a DIN or NPN if they are authorized by Health Canada.

Health Canada has published a list of authorized hand sanitizers, which is updated daily, Monday to Friday. 

Hand sanitizer products should not be ingested and should always be kept out of reach of children. As with all health products, Health Canada recommends that people always follow the directions on the product label.

The COVID-19 pandemic is creating an unprecedented demand for certain health products. Health Canada is working to provide Canadians with greater access to health products that would help limit the spread of COVID-19, including hand sanitizers. An Expedited Access Process is in place for companies to seek authorization from Health Canada to manufacture and sell alcohol-based hand sanitizers. For more information, please contact the Natural and Non-prescription Health Products Directorate at [email protected].

Health Canada is also facilitating access to imported products that may not fully meet current regulatory requirements (e.g., some products may not be labelled in both official languages), but are still safe and effective, as an interim measure. A list of products permitted to be sold in Canada under this interim measure can be found here.

What you should do

  • Limit the spread of COVID-19 by washing your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If this is not possible, use a hand sanitizer, with at least 60% alcohol, that has been approved by Health Canada.
  • If you have made or used homemade hand sanitizer products, stop using them.
  • Check whether a product and its claims have been authorized for sale by Health Canada by searching the List of Hand Sanitizers Authorized by Health Canada. Authorized hand sanitizers have an eight-digit Drug Identification Number (DIN), or Natural Product Number (NPN).

More information about buying health products safely is available on Health Canada’s website.

For the latest and most up-to-date information on COVID-19 visit Canada.ca/coronavirus.

SOURCE Health Canada