Why you shouldn't make your own hand sanitizer – CNET


Fears of coronavirus are causing a shortage of store-bought hand sanitizer.

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The rapid spread of coronavirus (or COVID-19) has people clearing out shelves of hand sanitizer across the US. And if you try to buy it online, good luck — most of it is out of stock or marked up on Amazon, Walmart.com, Bath and Body Works, Walgreens and other retailers. The shortage has spurred people to begin making their own hand sanitizer, using recipes from Twitter, Reddit, Pinterest and countless blogs. But just because these recipes exist doesn’t mean you should use them. 

If you follow the directions in these recipes perfectly, you could make a homemade hand sanitizer that actually works. But if you don’t get the concentration right, experts warn that you’ll end up with something that isn’t effective or is too harsh. 

Screwing up the formula is easier than you might think. One pharmacist weighed in on Twitter on the risks of making your own:

The key is to get the ratio of ingredients. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommends using a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol, which store-bought hand sanitizers have. But trying to replicate that on your own can be tricky.

Homemade hand sanitizer recipes

Most of the countless recipes out there use a mix of 91% or 99% isopropyl alcohol (or rubbing alcohol) and aloe vera gel, which is necessary to add moisture to your skin as alcohol will dry it out. The typical ratio is 60% alcohol to 40% aloe vera gel by volume. 

The issue with these recipes is that if you don’t use enough aloe gel in your DIY hand sanitizer, it will dry out the skin on your hands, which can cause it to crack or bleed. But if you don’t use enough alcohol, the final product won’t be as effective at killing germs as store-bought hand sanitizer.

The other issue is that because of the popularity of these homemade hand sanitizers, the ingredients are now harder to come by. So even if you want to make it, you might not be able to find rubbing alcohol and aloe vera at your local drugstore.


Most DIY hand sanitizer recipes call for isopropyl alcohol and aloe vera gel.

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Recipes that call for vodka or spirits should be avoided entirely, because you need a high proof liquor to get the right concentration of alcohol by volume. That’s because most liquor is mixed with water, so if you mix a 80-proof vodka (which is the standard proof) with aloe, you’ll have hand sanitizer that contains roughly only 40% alcohol.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has official instructions to make a disinfecting hand sanitizer to use in medical settings, but it’s not written for the average prepper to use. It requires using sterile water, an alcoholometer to measure the concentration of alcohol in the final product and glycerol (also known as glycerin), which isn’t as easy to track down at your local drugstore as aloe vera gel. It also does not recommend including any dyes, essential oils or other fragrances because they could cause an allergic response — a lot of DIY recipes call for essential oils to mask the smell of alcohol.

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So what should you do instead?

Wash your hands. The CDC and WHO both agree that’s the best thing you can do right now to protect yourself from getting sick, either from coronavirus or anything else. Wash your hands with soap and water for 20 seconds, many times per day — after you use the restroom, before and after you eat, before and after you prepare food and in many other scenarios.

Also avoid touching your face in general, but especially with dirty hands. Most everything you touch throughout the day is covered in germs and if you touch your mucous membranes (lips, noise, eyes) you can spread viruses and bacteria into your own body.

I don’t advise it, but if you are determined to make your own hand sanitizer (and can actually find the ingredients to do so), avoid any recipes that do not use at least 60% alcohol. Otherwise, just wash your damn hands.

The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health provider regarding any questions you may have about a medical condition or health objectives.

source: cnet.com