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Your Alcohol Interlock and Hand Sanitiser

March 30, 2020

Can I use Hand Sanitiser?

You should take all the precautions as recommended by the Australian Department of Health regarding hygiene. However, if you have an alcohol interlock installed in your vehicle you should take extra precautions to avoid recording alcohol readings.

Your alcohol interlock is sensitive to all types of alcohol, remember if an item's name or one of its ingredients ends with the letters "OL" it most likely contains some sort of alcohol. Alcohol-based hand sanitisers contain different types of alcohol, often between 60% to 95% usually isopropyl alcohol, ethanol (ethyl alcohol) or n-propanol.

If alcohol-based hand sanitiser is used, please remember to follow these precautions:

  • Apply the hand sanitiser outside your vehicle.
  • Allow the hand sanitiser to air dry completely before you enter your car.
  • To be safe, wait at least 5 minutes after applying hand sanitiser before picking up the handheld device.
  • If possible, put your window down to allow air circulation.

Understanding a Breath Alcohol Test

Breath alcohol testing is a method that is less invasive and requires less time for results. However, breath testing can be highly susceptible to foreign contaminants. Breath alcohol content is measured by taking the alcohol vapour exhaled from the lungs and multiplying that amount by a factor known as a "partition ratio".

Potential Contaminants

Alcohol touches our lives in multiple ways. Variations of alcohol from items we use daily can cause problems with breath alcohol testing.

Be a label reader! Look for any ingredient that ends with the letters "OL", such as menthol, sorbitol, glycol, ethanol, etc. These ingredients can be a potential issue for your device. An exhaustive list would not be possible; however, the following products have been known to cause alcohol vapor in the breath sample for other Smart Start clients.

Yeast Products

Possibly the most common fail (apart from true alcohol fails) comes from yeast products in the mouth. Yeast, when combine with sugar (glucose), creates alcohol and CO2 by-products. So, yeast inside can 'ferment' enough to cause issues with breathalysers. Always rinse your mouth out with water before testing after consuming yeast products, including:

  • Loaf bread
  • Donuts
  • Pizza dough
  • Hamburger/hot dog buns
  • Other baked goods
Vanilla Products

Vanilla extract is high in alcohol content. Can be up to 30-40% alcohol. Items that may cause elevated levels include:

  • Ice cream
  • Some Coffees
  • Vanilla flavoured soft drinks
  • Some baked goods
Cosmetic/ Toiletries

The products we use to get ready for the day can make a bad morning even worse. In some cases, simply breathing in the fumes from these items can cause a fail test. These items include:

  • Toothpaste
  • Mouthwash
  • Hairspray
  • Cough syrup
  • Some lip sticks, gloss, balms
Other items
  • Hand sanitisers
  • Petrol (contains up to 10% ethanol)
  • Energy drinks

Obviously, numerous items can and will cause issues for interlock clients. Many of the examples given are general, as an exhaustive list is not possible. It is the client's responsibility to avoid products that will lead to fail tests.

Clearing Contaminants

it is very important that you take the time to remove potential contaminants from your mouth and/or lungs prior to blowing into an ignition interlock device. Before every test clients should take these steps to eliminate foreign contaminants:

  1. Rinse with water. Swishing with water helps break up food particles in the mouth.
  2. Take a few deep breaths in and out. Exhaling completely aids in the removal of chemical vapours present in the lungs.

If you have any questions or concerns, please email us at or call us 1300 256 900.