When it comes to preventing the spread of infectious diseases like COVID-19, nothing beats good old-fashioned hand washing.
But if water and soap aren’t available, your next best option, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)Trusted Source, is to use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60 percent alcohol.
Unless you have a stockpile of store-bought hand sanitizer, you’ll likely have a hard time finding any at a store or online right now. Due to the rapid spread of the novel coronavirus, most retailers can’t keep up with the demand for hand sanitizer.
The good news? All it takes is three ingredients to make your own hand sanitizer at home. Read on to find out how.
- Hand sanitizer recipes, including the one below, are intended for use by professionals with the necessary expertise and resources for safe creation and proper utilization.
- Don’t use homemade hand sanitizers on children’s skin as they may be more prone to a greater risk of injury due to misuse.
Recipe for Hand Sanitizer
What you’ll need:
- 3/4 cup of isopropyl or rubbing alcohol (99 percent)
- 1/4 cup of aloe vera gel (to help keep your hands smooth and to counteract the harshness of alcohol)
- 10 drops of essential oil, such as lavender oil, or you can use lemon juice instead
- Pour all ingredients into a bowl, ideally one with a pouring spout like a glass measuring container.
- Mix with a spoon and then beat with a whisk to turn the sanitizer into a gel.
- Pour the ingredients into an empty bottle for easy use, and label it “hand sanitizer.”
If you are making hand sanitizer at home, adhere to these tips:
- Make the hand sanitizer container clean.
- Wash your hands thoroughly before making the hand sanitizer.
- To mix, use a clean spoon and whisk. Wash these items thoroughly before using them.
- Make sure the alcohol used for the hand sanitizer is not diluted.
- Mix all the ingredients thoroughly until they are well blended.
- Do not touch the mixture with your hands until it is ready for use.
Improper ingredients or proportions can lead to:
- Lack of efficacy, meaning that the sanitizer may not effectively eliminate risk of exposure to some or all microbes
- Skin irritation, injury, or burns
- Exposure to hazardous chemicals.
- Homemade hand sanitizer is also not recommended for use with children. Children may be more prone to improper hand sanitizer usage, which could lead to greater risk of injury.
How to use hand sanitizer
Two things to be aware of when using hand sanitizer is that you need to rub it into your skin until your hands are dry. And, if your hands are greasy or dirty, you should wash them first with soap and water.
With that in mind, here are some tips for using hand sanitizer effectively.
- Spray or apply the sanitizer to the palm of one hand.
- Thoroughly rub your hands together. Make sure you cover the entire surface of your hands and all your fingers.
- Continue rubbing for 30 to 60 seconds or until your hands are dry. It can take at least 60 seconds, and sometimes longer, for hand sanitizer to kill most germs.
What germs can homemade hand sanitizer kill?
According to the CDCTrusted Source, an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that meets the alcohol volume requirement can quickly reduce the number of microbes on your hands. It can also help destroy a wide range of disease-causing agents or pathogens on your hands, including the novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2.
A hand sanitizer may not work well if your hands are visibly dirty or greasy. This may happen after working with food, doing yard work, gardening, or playing a sport.
If your hands look dirty or slimy, opt for hand washing instead of a hand sanitizer.
Hand washing vs. hand sanitizer
Knowing when it’s best to wash your hands, and when hand sanitizers can be helpful, is key to protecting yourself from the novel coronavirus as well as other illnesses, like the common cold and seasonal flu.
While both serve a purpose, washing your hands with soap and water should always be a priority, according to the CDC. Only use hand sanitizer if soap and water isn’t available in a given situation.
It’s also important to always wash your hands:
- after going to the bathroom
- after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing
- before eating
- after touching surfaces that could be contaminated
Hand sanitizer is a handy on-the-go way to help prevent the spread of germs when soap and water isn’t available. Alcohol-based hand sanitizers can help keep you safe and reduce the spread of the novel coronavirus.
If you are having a hard time finding hand sanitizer at your local stores and handwashing isn’t available, you can take steps to make your own. You only need a few ingredients, such as rubbing alcohol or methylated spirit, aloe vera gel, and an essential oil or lemon juice or glycerin