The COVID Pandemic focused our collective attention on defeating the spread of the virus by adopting routine and effective hand hygiene. Health officials and experts emphasize that the best way to keep hands clean is to wash with soap and water (see the video Clean Hands Keep You Healthy: USC EH&S Guide to Hand Washing) and that a great additional defense from getting sick is to use hand sanitizers. 

Most hand sanitizers are alcohol-based and the CDC recommends that they have at least 60% alcohol content. Here are some recommendations on when to use hand sanitizers: 

  • When hands are not visibly dirty or greasy
  • After blowing your nose, sneezing, or coughing 
  • Before and after visiting someone in the hospital or nursing home 
  • Make certain to use enough hand sanitizer to cover the front and back of your hands 

Hand sanitizers are regulated as over-the-counter drugs by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and are required to have an expiration date. Hand sanitizer products past their expiration date are still viable for killing germs on hands; however, their alcohol content may be diminished over time due to evaporation, especially if the container is only partly full, or was stored in a warm place (e.g., the interior of a vehicle). It is prudent, therefore, to leave the (expired) product on longer.

As a reminder, completely use up hand sanitizer containers before discarding them. Fluid left in the container contains alcohol and cannot be discarded in the regular trash. Opt for a household hazardous waste recycling facility. USC schools/departments that have purchased hand sanitizers for use within USC facilities and wish to dispose of the remaining product without using it up may have their authorized department personnel submit a waste request.

How to Request Waste Pickup for Hand Sanitizers

USC laboratory personnel using EHSA or RSS to manage their lab’s chemical inventory should utilize that application to submit their request. The pickup request process is the same as requesting a pickup for any hazardous material.

Departments or administrative staff may send an email to Please include detailed information about each item including type, quantity, size, etc.