Proper Hand Sanitizer Disposal: What You Need to Know

If your organization is dealing with the issue of proper hand sanitizer disposal as a consequence of Covid-19 then you’re not alone. Proper hand sanitizer disposal is necessary due to the environmental and safety risks associated with its chemical composition, which, as unlikely as it sounds, classifies it as a hazardous material. Most hand sanitizer is composed of isopropyl or ethyl alcohol, which is highly volatile if ignited and very harmful if swallowed or if its vapor is inhaled. 

Large quantities of excess hand sanitizer left over from the pandemic have reached or far exceeded their expiration dates and need to be properly disposed of as hazardous waste. The same hand sanitizer used to curb the spread of infection is now causing a major hazardous waste management problem for municipalities, businesses, facilities, and institutions around the world. 

Hand sanitizer is classified as a hazardous waste due to the flammable properties derived from its high alcohol content. As a hazardous waste, expired hand sanitizer cannot be simply tossed in the trash or flushed down the toilet—the consequences could cause great harm. Pouring gallons of alcohol-based sanitizer down the drain can lead to contamination of water sources or potentially create enough flammable vapor in the local sewer system to generate an explosion. That vapor is also toxic and can pose serious health risks if inhaled. 

If your company, institution, or organization has large, excess quantities of expired hand sanitizer stored onsite, it will need to be properly disposed of as hazardous waste following the guidelines and protocols of the EPA and your state environmental agency. In Maine, that would be the DEP, the state Department of Environmental Protection. As a hazardous waste, the hand sanitizer cannot be stored indefinitely. 

By law, companies and institutions that handle hazardous materials have a legal responsibility to ensure the material is properly managed at all times. From the moment of possession, organizations must comply with the regulations that govern the safe storage, transport, and disposal of hazardous material. Companies must dispose of excess hand sanitizer as any hazardous waste by following specific guidelines to ensure its proper handling and minimize environmental and safety risks. Failure to comply with these regulations can result in legal consequences and penalties.

Here’s what you need to know to properly handle and dispose of the excess hand sanitizer:

Identify and Separate

Companies should identify hand sanitizers that are expired or unused and segregate them from regular waste. This helps prevent accidental exposure and ensures that hazardous waste is managed separately.

Proper Storage

Hand sanitizers should remain in their original containers or designated containers that are compatible with their chemical properties. They should be placed in cool, dry storage areas that are well-ventilated and away from sources of ignition.


Containers holding expired hand sanitizers must be clearly labeled with appropriate hazard symbols and information, including the contents, date of accumulation, and any relevant safety precautions.


The transportation of hand sanitizer for disposal must follow federal and state guidelines and regulations for the safe handling and transportation of hazardous materials. This may involve using specialized containers, providing detailed documentation stating the quantity and type of hazard, and complying with transportation regulations.


Excess hand sanitizer should be disposed of through licensed waste management companies at designated facilities authorized to handle hazardous waste. These facilities employ methods such as incineration, chemical treatment, fuel blending, incidental reduction, or recycling to safely process hazardous materials while minimizing environmental impact.

If your company purchased large quantities of hand sanitizer that has since expired and is facing challenges in disposing of it, it may be time to contact a company that specializes in hazardous chemical waste disposal services. Maine Labpack is one such company with decades of experience in handling and disposing of hazardous materials safely and in compliance with environmental regulations. We have the expertise and resources to ensure that hazardous hand sanitizer is managed properly, minimizing risks to human health and the environment.

Maine Labpack can provide a comprehensive and informative waste audit and analysis for companies and institutions that have large quantities of hand sanitizer on site that need to be properly disposed of. For more information about how we can help your organization manage and properly dispose of excess hand sanitizer at your facility, contact Maine Labpack. We offer a variety of proper waste disposal solutions.