The No. 1 Thing You Should Never Do With Your Hand Sanitizer

Don't make this simple mistake or you could ruin your hand sanitizer.

Hand sanitizer has become liquid gold amid the coronavirus pandemic. It's never been more important to wash your hands often and disinfect the things you touch every day. But, no matter how many times you've used it, we bet you have also made this one crucial mistake: leaving it in your car.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends using hand sanitizer that contains at least 60 percent alcohol in order to effectively kill germs. However, alcohol-based hand sanitizer (ABHS) usually contains ethyl alcohol, which "evaporates at room temperature." So, if you leave it in a warm environment—like a vehicle—for too long, the heat will decrease the amount of alcohol, which is the active ingredient killing any germs or viruses. Thus, the hand sanitizer will basically become ineffective.

"It's definitely an issue if you leave your hand sanitizer in the car for days at a time or weeks," Greg Boyce, PhD, an associate professor in the Department of Chemistry and Physics at Florida Gulf Coast University, told WZVN. Although, he notes, that it is safe in the car when you are only running a quick errand.

If you do accidentally leave the bottle of disinfectant in your center console for a while, Boyce recommends bringing it inside and storing it in a cool place (like a cupboard or pantry with the rest of your cleaning supplies). Once it's back to room temperature, then you can apply it without irritating your skin. And for more common errors you might be making behind the wheel, check out the 7 Mistakes You're Making Every Time You Get in Your Car.

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