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.