Debunked: Hand sanitizer will not cause a fire inside a car on a hot day

Credit: iStock/Janine Lamontagne

Updated: 8:45 a.m. on May 26, 2020 

Leaving hand sanitizer in your vehicle on a hot day will not cause a fire, despite circulating claims from several reports online.

The National Fire Protection Association said in a YouTube video, for hand sanitizer to combust in a hot car, it would have to reach over 700 degrees Fahrenheit." 

The Western Lakes Fire District shared a long post on their Facebook page, to clear up the misunderstanding. 


Published: 8:25 a.m. on May 21, 2020 

Western Lakes Fire District shared a photo of a vehicle's interior door burned, melted and still smoking to their Facebook page. The picture -- though not caused by exploding hand sanitizer -- shows damage they say could be caused by smoking materials. 

Western Lakes Fire District Facebook picture  by

 The district said in the post: "By its nature, hand sanitizer is essentially alcohol and therefore flammable. Keeping it in your car during hot weather, exposing it to sun, and being next to open flame such as grills can lead to disaster."

An article from Poynter says the whole thing is a hoax. The report says a car would need to reach an internal temperature above 300 degrees Celsius (572 degrees Fahrenheit) to cause hand sanitizer to combust. 

When a viewer asked Wester Lakes Fire District if this is caused due to direct sunlight -- similar to using a magnifying glass and the sun to create fire -- the district said hand sanitizer is a flammable substance and should not be in the vehicle unless being transported. 

The district said in a comment, the photo was not from a recent incident and they're doing their best to keep it that way. 

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