With anxiety around coronavirus at an all-time high, and stock of cleaning essentials such as hand sanitizer at an all-time low, many people are turning to their own shelves to make up the difference by creating their own do-it-yourself hand sanitizer. Even the World Health Organization (WHO) has issued guidelines for how to make your own sanitizer, though that guide is intended for populations without the same resources as wealthier countries.
If made correctly, DIY hand sanitizer can be helpful to bridge the supply gap and help keep germy hands nice and clean. However, it’s important to be careful with the formulation, which can easily go awry when done from home.
For hand sanitizer to be effective, it must have at least 60% alcohol content, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Also, hand sanitizer bought in stores usually has emollients, ingredients meant to soothe or soften the skin, in order to counteract the harshness of the alcohol. Without that, you could risk damaging the skin of your hands.
That said, if you are determined to make your own hand sanitizer, here’s a simple, five-minute recipe for doing so.
Equipment / Tools
1. Be careful of how the alcohol is diluted: Mixing hand sanitizer at home means you can't control how the alcohol gets diluted in the final product. Without enough aloe gel, it will dry out the skin on your hands, which may cause it to crack or bleed.
2: Be careful of not using enough alcohol: Without enough alcohol, the final product won't be as effective at killing germs as store-bought hand sanitizer. You also want to make sure your tools are very clean, so that you don’t accidentally contaminate your batch with bacteria.
3: Good luck finding the ingredients: Because homemade hand sanitizers are becoming more popular now that supplies of commercial hand sanitizers are running low, the ingredients to make DIY hand sanitizer are running low. It may be tough for you to find rubbing alcohol and aloe vera.
4: Be careful using liquor as alcohol: Avoid recipes that call for vodka or spirits because you need a high proof liquor (180 proof or higher) to get the right concentration of alcohol by volume. Most liquor is mixed with water, and you need your hand sanitizer to have over 60% alcohol, according to the CDC, in order to be effective.
The best way to protect yourself from coronavirus remains to wash your hands.
You should wash your hands thoroughly for at least 20 seconds. Don’t touch your face, cover your mouth with a flexed elbow or a tissue when sneezing or coughing, and regularly clean surfaces, including high-touch surfaces such as that of your phone.
In order to use hand sanitizer correctly, cover both of your hands in the gel, including between the fingers and under the nails, and rub them until they are dry.
The CDC warns that if your hands are visibly dirty or greasy, hand sanitizer may not be as effective.