Is there Gluten in my Hand Sanitizer?

By Francie Kelley, Executive Director, Celiac Kids Connection

The short answer is - maybe. It is rare to find gluten in hand sanitizer, but it is possible.

Due to COVID-19 we are all washing our hands and we are washing them A LOT. When we cannot wash our hands, we are using hand sanitizer. The CDC and FDA both recommend that you should wash your hands and rely on hand sanitizer only when you are unable to use soap and water.

With this in mind we are using hand sanitizer a lot more than we have in the past. In particular, as our kids get ready to go back to school there will not be hand washing stations in each classroom. Schools will be relying on hand sanitizer for students.

The active ingredient in hand sanitizer is alcohol and the CDC recommends that your hand sanitizer contain at least 60% alcohol. Glycerol or other compounds are often added to help reduce the drying of your skin. In addition, fragrances may be added.

Most hand sanitizers are gluten free (GF). But some manufacturers do add moisturizers or fragrances that contain gluten. If you are using a gluten containing hand sanitizer and then eating, you may be exposing yourself to gluten.  Therefore, it is always important to check the ingredients of you hand sanitizer.

Based on the information on their website, Purell is gluten-free. We have had reports that some of the Bed Bath and Beyond brand hand sanitizers contain gluten. They are currently out of stock and I was unable to check ingredients to verify those reports. Some Bath and Body Works hand sanitizers contain wheat amino acids.

Again, most hand sanitizers are GF. However, it is important to know that they can contain gluten and it is important to check the ingredients of hand sanitizer before you use it.

As kids prepare to go back to school, it is important to keep in mind that your school will be using a lot of hand sanitizer. Find out what brand of sanitizer your school is using and check the ingredients. If you are concerned about the GF status of the hand sanitizer in your school, send your kids to school with a hand sanitizer brand that you know is GF. Your child can keep that with them and use their own personal hand sanitizer instead of the school provided hand sanitizer.

Yes, wash your hands and use hand sanitizer when soap and water is not available. But make sure you know that your hand sanitizer is GF.

6 Comments on “Is there Gluten in my Hand Sanitizer?”

  1. this is helpful, but if the ingredients to look for that contain gluten were added to this article or links it would be even more helpful.

    1. You should look for the same gluten containing ingredients (wheat, barley, rye) that you would look for in any other item you check for gluten. You should also keep in mind all the possible names that also mean that an ingredient is wheat, barley, rye or a derivative of one of those grains.

  2. My son has celiac disease, and I have hand sanitizer with moisturizing and fragrance. Is that safe for him to use? Could you please till me what kind is safe for him? And where can I find it? I asked and looked for hand sanitizer is certified gluten free, but I didn’t find it. I need your help please, Thanks a lot.

    1. Unfortunately, there is no universal answer here. Just because the hand sanitizer has moisturizer and/or fragrance in it, does not mean it will not be gluten-free.

      As we say in the blog, it is rare to find gluten in hand sanitizer but it is possible. You should review the ingredients of the hand sanitizer you are using for any gluten containing ingredients. If that information is unavailable or unclear you should contact the manufacturer to review the ingredients.

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