Is It Safe to Refill Hand Sanitizer Bottles?

The COVID-19 pandemic has made people overly cautious about their hygiene and safety. There was a record-breaking surge in the sales of hand sanitizers during the pandemic.

Almost 2 years down the road, people still feel threatened by the COVID-19 virus and are, therefore, seen continuing to use hand sanitizers.

Most people buy hand sanitizer in bulk and refill bottles.

The question is, how safe is it to refill hand sanitizer bottles, if it’s safe at all?

Why Do People Prefer to Refill Hand Sanitizer Bottles?

After the COVID-19 pandemic, hand sanitizer became a necessary item that everyone preferred to carry with them. Hand sanitizer hadn’t ever received this much attention.

The use of hand sanitizers was limited to hospitals and clinics only, but in the past 2 years, it has become a household staple.

Since sanitizer bottles added to the overall household expense, people had to think of a more pocket-friendly way of keeping themselves safe.

This is where the idea of buying hand sanitizer in bulk popped up. Now, people buy hand sanitizer in bulk and refill bottles every time they run out of it.

Buying anything in bulk always costs less, and that’s exactly what people are doing.

However, saving money isn’t the only reason why people are refilling hand sanitizer bottles. There’s more to it if you look at the bigger picture.

Reduce Plastic Waste

What do you do with the empty sanitizer bottle? Throw it trash?

Well, all of the plastic bottles end up in landfills. Plastic waste is one of the biggest waste categories that are burdening landfills today.

One of the many reasons why people prefer to refill sanitizer bottles is to reduce plastic waste.

Instead of throwing multiple hand sanitizer bottles in the waste, it’s better to throw one in 90 days, which is the number of days you can use a refilled hand sanitizer bottle.

Saves Money

Of course, buying hand sanitizer in bulk and refilling bottles is so much cheaper than buying smaller bottles of hand sanitizer.

You can buy one large bottle and refill the portable bottle every time it empties.


Refilling hand sanitizer bottles is a lot more convenient. Let’s say you’re headed out and realize that your portable hand sanitizer bottle is empty.

Instead of having to go to the store to buy hand sanitizer, you can quickly refill it from the bulk bottle you’ve got in stock at home.

This is another reason why people prefer refilling hand sanitizer bottles.

Is it Safe to Refill Hand Sanitizer Bottles?

Now that the practice of refilling hand sanitizer bottles has become so common, it makes sense to wonder if it’s safe to refill hand sanitizer bottles.

The good news is that, yes, it’s safe to refill hand sanitizer bottles. However, you can’t continue to use the refilled bottles forever.

The maximum number of days a refilled hand sanitizer bottle can remain in circulation is 90 days. It’s not safe to use a refilled hand sanitizer bottle beyond that time period.

In case the bottle shows signs of physical damage, or the contents of the bottle appear to be contaminated, you should discard the bottle right away, even if it hasn’t been 90 days yet.

You can rest assured that as long as the hand sanitizer bottles look fine and it’s been less than 90 days since you refilled them, you can continue using them without risking your health, safety, and wellbeing.

Risks Associated with Refilling Hand Sanitizer Bottles

Although it’s safe to refill hand sanitizer bottles, there are some risks. Had there been no risks, there wouldn’t have been a limitation of not using the refilled bottles beyond 90 days.

It’s best to familiarize yourself with all the possible risks of refilling hand sanitizer bottles to make a more informed decision about whether you want to take the risk and save money.

Mixing of Product

One of the biggest risks of refilling hand sanitizer bottles is product mixing. People aren’t always careful about refilling a hand sanitizer bottle with hand sanitizer of the same brand.

They fill one brand’s empty hand sanitizer bottle with the product of any other brand, assuming that it’s hand sanitizer after all. How different could it possibly be?

Well, the formula of hand sanitizer from different manufacturers is different. Each manufacturer uses different components in different quantities.

If you mix a product from 2 different brands (there’s always some remaining in the bottle), there’s a chance of mixing incompatible components.

If 2 incompatible products are mixed together, it’ll affect the efficacy of the sanitizer and can also result in skin irritation.

If the FDA declares hand sanitizer from one manufacturer as faulty or ineffective, then there’s a question about the safety and efficacy of the final product that you’ve got in your bottle.

Another possible risk arising from product mixing is the mixing of alcohol-based and non-alcohol-based products.

If the product you’re using is alcohol-based and you refill this bottle with a non-alcohol-based product, you can’t tell if the resulting product is safe to use on the skin.

Another critical factor that people tend to overlook is that when the FDA approves a product, it approves the entire product with the packaging.

The FDA gives a green signal that the product is compatible with its packaging. The product you’re mixing in your current hand sanitizer bottle may not be compatible with the bottle’s material.

This can affect the safety and efficacy of the product.

Mixing of Inconsistent Quality Products

The demand for hand sanitizers increased by several folds when the COVID-19 pandemic hit. This led to many off-brand manufacturers producing hand sanitizers to meet the growing demand.

Now, most of these newer manufacturers aren’t aware of the protocol of hand sanitizer manufacturing. They don’t even source the raw material from reputed vendors.

Also, they may not be keeping a check on quality at every step. As a result, the product they produce may be of subpar quality.

If you refill the hand sanitizer bottle from a known brand with this subpar quality product, you’re mixing products with different quality profiles.

That can raise a question about the quality and safety of the resulting mixture.

Loss of Efficacy

Most of the bulk hand sanitizer containers available in the market today come with easy-to-open and close closures to make refilling bottles easier.

However, that also means that the bulk containers aren’t properly sealed all the time and this could lead to evaporation of the alcohol.

If the alcohol content of the hand sanitizer drops below 60%, the product no longer complies with FDA requirements and is not effective at killing the germs it’s meant to kill.

You may be using an ineffective product without realizing it.

Improper Labeling

If you’ve got a bulk hand sanitizer container lying around, we suggest you check the bottle and see how well it’s labeled.

Most bulk containers aren’t labeled like other smaller hand sanitizer bottles. The label contains important information like the expiry date, lot number, ingredients, etc.

If you’re buying bulk containers, you may not know important details about the product due to a lack of labeling.

This means you might be putting yourself at risk by refilling your existing hand sanitizer bottles with this product because you don’t know much about what the bulk container really contains.

If you really want to buy hand sanitizer in bulk for your office or any commercial space, we suggest you only buy a product that’s adequately labeled.

This ensures your safety in the long run.

For example, if the company ever recalls a batch due to any reason, there’s no way you’ll know if the product you’ve got is from the same batch if the container isn’t labeled with the batch number.

Product Contamination

Every time you open the bulk container to refill your hand sanitizer bottle, you’re exposing the contents to air. The air is full of dust, dirt, and microbes.

This means that every time you open the bulk container, it gets contaminated. This would result in your hand sanitizer being more harmful to you than beneficial.

Hand sanitizer bottles are filled in sterile facilities to ensure the product doesn’t get contaminated with any foreign particles or microbes because that would undermine the purpose of the hand sanitizer.

And when you’re refilling your hand sanitizer bottles at home, the conditions aren’t sterile, so the risk of contamination is high.

Dispensing Failure

The hand sanitizer you’re currently using might have a different consistency than the product you’re refilling it with.

Keep in mind that the hand sanitizer bottle was designed for the product it’s originally filled with.

If you fill it with a thicker or thinner product than the original one, the chances of dispensing failure are pretty high. The pump may dispense too much or too little product at a time.

If you still want to continue refilling hand sanitizer bottles from bulk containers, make sure you’re doing it in a designated area where contamination chances are minimal.

Also, make sure you’re buying the product that’s adequately labeled and is closest in composition to the product you’re currently using.

Most importantly, ensure that you aren’t using a refilled hand sanitizer bottle for more than 90 days!

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