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There are countless DIY Hand Sanitizer recipes cropping up every single day…but is it safe?
If you’ve dared to brace the shops in the past couple of days, you’ll no doubt have noticed the overwhelming impact panic-buying has had on shop shelves.
Toilet paper, vanished. Dried pasta, gone. Tinned beans and lentils, flying off the shelves. And of course, hand sanitizer.
Such a commodity with the growing threat of coronavirus that it’s been listed for 10 times it’s usual price online.
The rapid growth of the Covid-19 coronavirus from Wuhan, China to the rest of the world has caused an understandable amount of worry (I mean, I struggle to understand the reasoning to stockpile 50 rolls of toilet paper when you’re looking at potentially being quarantined for 14 days…but still). While panic buying may not be rational, it’s understandable, at least.
With the number one recommendation to prevent the spread of coronavirus being to wash your hands, numerous people are resorting to making their own DIY hand sanitizer failing to find it in the shops.
But…is that actually a good idea? Would soap and warm water and a 20-second ‘happy birthday’ to yourself in front of a sink actually be more effective? Let’s take a look.
Is it safe to make your hand sanitizer?
I’m a big fan of cutting costs with DIY solutions, but the wrong recipe is ineffective at best and dangerous at worst.
For example, a pharmacy recently posted an incorrect DIY hand sanitizer recipe with just 1 part isopropyl alcohol. For a sanitizer to be effective, the Centres for Disease Control (CDC) state that it needs to be at least 60% alcohol, so that recipe just wouldn’t work.
Likewise, using liquor for the alcohol component won’t work. In the States, a lot of recipes were using Tito’s vodka which only has 40% alcohol and therefore would not make an effective hand sanitizer solution.
Per the CDC, hand sanitizer needs to contain at least 60% alcohol. Tito’s Handmade Vodka is 40% alcohol, and therefore does not meet the current recommendation of the CDC. Please see attached for more information. pic.twitter.com/OMwR6Oj28Q— TitosVodka (@TitosVodka) March 5, 2020
So, it’s so important to do your own research and fact-check from legitimate sources (linked below) to make sure you’re making a solution that would be deemed as ‘effective’. Otherwise, countless people may be walking around with their homemade sanitizer that is just the equivalent of pouring a glass of wine over your hands and saying they’re clean.
Done right, though, it can work. It’s not ideal – and definitely not an alternative to thoroughly washing your hands with warm water and soap for 20+ seconds – but it can work.
How to make an effective DIY hand sanitizer
As stated above, an effective hand sanitizer needs to be at least 60% alcohol – and you need to be using 99% isopropyl alcohol (rubbing alcohol).
The general consensus seems to be that an effective hand sanitizer should be:
- 2 parts rubbing alcohol
- 1 part aloe vera gel (to prevent your hands from drying out)
With the rest of the bottle filled with distilled water if there’s space.
Live Science recently published this article on making your own hand sanitizer which echoes a lot of the above. The World Health Organisation (WHO) do have their own hand sanitizer recipe, although this is more intended for people who can’t get their hands on the commercial versions of the product.
Soap is king
While it may be tempting to play the chemist and whip up your own batch of hand sanitizer, it can’t be stated enough that washing your hands properly is the best way to prevent the spread of germs.
Soap actually removes germs and bacteria from the hands, whereas alcohol-based doesn’t. So, washing your hands with warm water and soap, lathering up, scrubbing the palms, back of the hands, fingers, and under the nails for at least 20 seconds and drying with a clean towel is better than any hand sanitizer recipe.
Other ways to prevent the spread of germs:
- Avoid touching your face in general, but especially with dirty hands
- Always wash your hands before and after coming into contact with food
- Wash your hands immediately after coughing, sneezing, or blowing your nose
- Wash your hands after using the restroom
- Avoid going out in public if you are feeling under the weather
- Avoid elderly or vulnerable people if you’re not feeling well
- If you are caring for elderly or vulnerable people, making sure you wash your hands before treating them
So, is it safe to make your own hand sanitizer? If you follow the correct recipes with an accurate proportion of alcohol, then making your own hand sanitizer can be effective.
However, being strict with your personal hygiene is a better route to go down.
**I’m not a medical professional in any way whatsoever, so please do your own research to help you stay safe against the threat of coronavirus. Useful sources: