As store shelves keep getting cleared out due to coronavirus fears, some people are taking sanitizing concerns into their own hands. What are the best DIY hand sanitizer options, and what do the experts want you to know about these homemade recipes? In general, you'll want to save that bottle of Absolut for your drinks, not your cleaning products.
If you're going the DIY route, make sure your homemade hand sanitizer recipe is potent enough to do the job. With hand sanitizer becoming harder to find in stores and online, some people have started to create their own sanitizer, using a combination of rubbing alcohol and aloe vera. However, per Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines, hand sanitizers should contain "at least 60% alcohol to effectively kill microbes," Dr. Erin Nance, M.D., hand specialist and surgeon, tells Romper. Other experts recommend an even higher dose.
When making your own, "your sanitizer must be at least 70% alcohol to be effective," dermatologist Peterson Pierre, M.D., of the Pierre Skin Care Institute tells Romper. Honestly, making the stuff on your own can be a bit tricky. "Though it might be tempting, as hand sanitizer has become unavailable in many stores and pharmacies as consumers rushed in to stock up, it’s not as easy to make an effective hand sanitizer as it sounds," Dr. Gabriella Baki, Ph.D., Pharm.D., assistant professor of pharmaceutics at the University of Toledo, tells Romper. Not all DIY sanitizer recipes are equally effective at killing off microbes.
So why can't the kind of alcohol you drink (particularly the strong stuff) kill off germs just as well? "At 80 proof, or 40% alcohol, vodka doesn’t have enough alcohol content to be effective," says Baki. "Rubbing most spirits on your hands will not kill the germs a commercially-made hand sanitizer does." Even representatives for some drink companies, including a spokesperson for Tito's Vodka, have spoken out against using drinking alcohol in DIY hand sanitizer recipes, claiming it simply isn't effective.
In addition, the experts caution that hand sanitizer use is not the most effective way to combat viruses such as COVID-19. "First, it’s always best to wash your hands with soap and water for 20 seconds. It’s the best way to remove germs and debris. Hand sanitizers should only be used when soap and water are not available," Dr. Soma Mandal, M.D., a women's health specialist, tells Romper. But if you're stuck in a situation without soap, sinks, or store-bought hand sanitizer, here are two DIY hand sanitizer recipes recommended by physicians.