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Fake Hand Sanitiser: How to spot unsafe products (and stay COVID secure!)

Hand Sanitizer held in a hand being poured into another

The Coronavirus pandemic has created a huge market for hand sanitisers, with shops, bars, restaurants, and offices all requiring a continuous supply for the public.

With such a jump in demand, unscrupulous individuals are looking to take advantage by selling substandard and even dangerous fake products to unsuspecting businesses.

In this article we will help you understand the following:

1. What fake and dangerous products are out there. What should you be wary of?
2. How to recognise genuine hand sanitizers and stay safe
3. Which hand sanitizers are best to tackle Coronavirus – what to look out for?

What fake and dangerous products are out there. What should you be wary of?

Shocking as it is, we are seeing tens of thousands of fake hand sanitiser bottles being sold to shops, bars, and restaurants across the UK.

At Heathrow Airport, Border Force teams recently intercepted a consignment 8,000 bottles of fake hand sanitiser in counterfeit Andrex and Comfort bottles destined for the UK market.

Other hand sanitiser are being packaged in bottles using labels of fake companies that do not exist. A recent haul in Staffordshire of hand sanitizer labelled Miss Life Ltd is just one example.

According to Public Health England, for a hand sanitiser to be affective it should contain a minimum 60% alcohol. Yet many of these counterfeit products have just 37%. In one case they found a product being sold with just 11.7%.

These products were being sold on the open market for as much as £10 per bottle.

Other cases have been even worse, with high quantities of methanol being found in counterfeit products.

The US Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) website warns consumers that “methanol is not an acceptable ingredient for hand sanitiser and should not be used because of its toxic effects.”

Methanol poisoning can cause nausea, vomiting, headaches, blurred vision, blindness, coma, permanent damage to the nervous system, and even death.

If you suspect that you have acquired any dangerous or fake hand sanitiser products in the U.K., you are advised to contact Trading
Standards via Citizens Advice on 0808 223 1133 or 0808 223 1144.

How to recognise genuine hand sanitizers and stay safe

Products with less than 60% alcohol, or ones that contain methanol or the banned substance Triclosan, should all be avoided.

Unfortunately, as we have seen, many unscrupulous individuals will happily sell fake and counterfeit product with misleading labels to hide their true contents. Just looking out for certain ingredients isn’t always enough.

Instead you should look to acquire hand sanitizers only from reputable companies with a proven track record.

Here at Chela, for example, we have been successfully supplying companies with cleaning products for many decades. So, you can trust that we won’t jeopardize our reputation in this way. Also, consider ordering directly from us.

Even checking a website these days carries risks, as fraudsters have the ability to design and launch highly convincing websites in just a few hours.

In times like these it is more vital than ever that you stick to suppliers you can trust.

Don’t assume just because the label says that the business is registered in the U.K. that it is safe.

If you are unsure, check the brand name and manufacturer details through Companies House (or your local equivalent if outside the U.K.)

Which hand sanitizers are best to tackle Coronavirus – what to look out for?

The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control recommends that all premises and areas potentially contaminated with COVID-19 should be cleaned using products containing antimicrobial agents that are known to be effective against coronaviruses.

Several antimicrobial agents have been tested against different coronaviruses and some of the active ingredients – such as sodium hypochlorite (contained in the household bleach) and ethanol – are widely available in non-healthcare and non-laboratory settings.

Antimicrobial agents effective against Coronaviruses in the correct quantities:

• Ethanol
• Sodium hypochlorite
• Povidone-iodine
• Glutaraldehyde
• Isopropanol
• Benzalkonium chloride
• Sodium chlorite
• Formaldehyde


In dangerous times, certain individuals will always seek to profit from the increased demand and heightened confusion caused by the pandemic.

Exercise extreme caution when specifying hand sanitation products for your business, and only seek to deal with established and reputable suppliers.

As part of the Fisher Darville Group, Chela has been a providing intelligent chemical cleaning solutions since we were established in 1988. We have been supplying our customers throughout the pandemic with the products they require to stay COVID secure.

If you have any concerns or questions about hand sanitizers or other cleaning products, please do not hesitate to contact us directly and we will happily help you to make sure that you are taking the best decisions for the health and safety of your staff and customers.

Photo by Noah on Unsplash