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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.

Here when you need us

75k Total cases managed yearly
39% Cases involving children ages 5 or under
90% Cases from the public resolved over the phone

Poison Center HelplineCalls are free and confidential.

  1. In Case of Emergency

    Call 911 if someone is unconscious or is having difficulty breathing.

  2. Remain Calm

    Most poison emergencies can be resolved quickly over the phone.

  3. Call the Helpline

    Call 1-800-222-1222 if you are concerned that you or someone else has been exposed to a potentially harmful substance.