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Poison Center Helpline 1-800-222-1222


Do you have a jug of windshield washer fluid in your garage? The bright blue fluid is great for cleaning your car’s windshield glass. But there’s a flip side: The fluid often contains methanol, a type of alcohol that’s extremely toxic.

This dangerous alcohol—methanol—is also found in fuel additives, fluids to de-ice diesel engines and fuel for keeping buffet dishes warm, such as sterno cans. Methanol has industrial uses as well.

Methanol Toxicity

For an adult, 1-2 ounces of pure methanol can be toxic. For a toddler, 1 teaspoon is cause for concern. The body breaks down methanol into toxic substances that can damage the eyes and brain.

Symptoms of Poisoning

  • Drowsiness

  • Vomiting

  • Irregular heartbeat

  • Blindness

  • Kidney failure

  • Coma

  • Death

Prevention Tips

Keep yourself and your family safe from methanol exposures:
  • Safely store windshield washer fluids and other products with methanol.

  • Keep substances in their original, child-resistant containers locked away out of sight and reach of children.

  • Never store products with methanol near food or beverages.

  • Always use these products only as directed.

IPC is here to help. If any amount of methanol is swallowed or inhaled, call our helpline at 1-800-222-1222 right away. There is an antidote for methanol that is most effective when given immediately after ingestion. IPC toxicology experts are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week and can advise you on next steps.

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39% Cases involving children ages 5 or under
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