Can You Recycle Hand Sanitizer Bottles

Recycling Hand Sanitizer Bottles – 5 Ways to Recycle and Re-use

As the novel Coronavirus or COVID-19 took the world by a storm, more and more hand sanitizers began to fly off the shelves in pharmacies and markets everywhere. This is as hand sanitizers are easy to carry around and help clean our hands as well as the items we touch.

Glitter Germs STEM Activity #Shorts
Glitter Germs STEM Activity #Shorts

But while hand sanitizers are convenient, landfills worldwide are also seeing a rise in these bottles being thrown out. This then bears the bigger question for many hand sanitizer users out there: Can you recycle hand sanitizer bottles?

Unsurprisingly, yes, you can. Hand sanitizer bottles are perfectly safe to be recycled and can even be repurposed after the initial contents have been used.

Let’s look at 5 easy ways you can recycle or reuse these hand sanitizer bottles below.

How to Recycle Hand Sanitizer Bottles

Hand sanitizer bottles are often made of regular PET plastics. These are the same materials you’ll see being used in your shampoo or soap bottles, as they’re non-toxic and easy to source. Here are 5 ways you can recycle your hand sanitizer bottles after the contents have been used:

Put it in Your Recycling Bin

Like regular plastics, you can place your hand sanitizer bottles together with your recycling waste. These clear bottles will be collected like regular plastic waste and be recycled at the relevant recycling plant as per regular shampoo or soap bottles.

Before putting them out, it’s recommended that you rinse the bottles to remove any leftover residue or risk any cross-contamination. If your hand sanitizer bottles come with a bottle pump, you are advised to separate them from the bottle as these pumps are regularly not recyclable.

For neighborhoods with specific garbage collection days, you may place the hand sanitizer bottles in the blue box marked “Containers.” Be sure to place the box by your curb before 7 AM on your collection day so the collectors may clear out the contents for you.

How to Recycle Hand Sanitizer Bottles

Refill Them With More Hand Sanitizer

One of the advantages of the small hand sanitizers is how convenient they are to bring around. If you have a smaller hand sanitizer bottle, you could reuse it by transferring hand sanitizer from a larger bottle into a smaller bottle.

By doing this, you will save money as you can buy hand sanitizers in bigger bottles, and you won’t have to re-purchase a smaller bottle to carry around. Larger hand sanitizer bottles with bottle pumps will make your refill process much easier and mess-free.

Use Them as Lotion Bottles

After prolonged use of hand sanitizers, it’s no secret that the alcohol can be drying to your hands. Instead of having to purchase travel-sized lotions and creams, you can easily recycle your old hand sanitizer bottles into lotion bottles instead.

To do this, you will have to rinse out any leftover residue from the hand sanitizer bottle. Dry it out thoroughly before reusing the bottle to store your lotions. Now you can carry a smaller bottle of your favorite lotions with you and still stay safe with a separate bottle of hand sanitizers to clean your hands.

Refill Them With Soap

This is a trick that will work well if you have a hand sanitizer bottle that comes with a pump. When the hand sanitizer runs out, you can then rinse the bottle to remove any residue that’s been left behind. Then, fill the bottle with some soap to use around your guest washroom or place it in your yard.

Replacing the contents of your hand sanitizer bottle with soap will save you money if you’ve been looking to place some soap to use outdoors all along. You’ll also save yourself the hassle of taking a trip to the store and be doing the environment some good with recycling.

Use the Bottles to Store Oil

Using oil for your skin and hair is slowly becoming all the rage today. Unfortunately, these oils will often come in large bottles, making it difficult for you to bring around. If you have some recycled hand sanitizer bottles, however, you can turn them into storage bottles for these oils.

Before using the bottle, you will want to clean out any remaining hand sanitizer residue from the bottle. Because these bottles were made to store liquid before being upcycled, their lids will often shut tighter, so you run fewer risks of having the oils spill out of your bag or pockets.

Do note, however, that you should never store oils for consumption in the hand sanitizer bottles as it may not be food safe.

Frequently Asked Questions

As more hand sanitizer bottles are being thrown out daily, some users may wonder what’s the right steps to getting their hand sanitizer bottles properly recycled. Let’s look at some of the common questions to address below.

Do I have to remove the labels to recycle the hand sanitizer bottles?

No, you don’t. When the hand sanitizer bottles are recycled, they will usually go through a heating process that helps remove all the labels and sticker residue. Although you may clean off the bottles at home, this isn’t a necessary step, and your bottles will still be accepted even if they have the labels intact.

Can I recycle the hand sanitizer bottle as a whole?

When recycling the hand sanitizer bottle, it’s recommended that you remove the lid and soap pump from the bottle before sending it off for recycling. This is as the bottle lids and soap pumps are usually not recyclable or will have to be recycled separately.

Do note that the spring in most soap pumps is also not recyclable and should be removed before you put the hand sanitizer bottle out for recycling.

Must I clean the hand sanitizer bottle before recycling?

Although it isn’t necessary, cleaning out the hand sanitizer bottle before putting it to recycle will help reduce the chances of any cross-contamination during these crucial times. You don’t have to scrub down the bottle with soap and a sponge. A gentle rinse will be more than enough to clean out any leftover residue, and you can put the hand sanitizer bottle out to recycle after.


With so many hand sanitizer bottles being used every day, they’re causing a massive increase in recyclable material getting sent to the landfill. Be sure to recycle your hand sanitizer bottles to limit this and educate your friends and family while you’re at it! If we can reduce our carbon footprint and decrease the amount of waste we’re producing then we definitely should!