First, it was face masks. Now it’s hand sanitizer. Items that weren’t valuable just a couple months ago are now coveted, hoarded, and flying off store shelves.
While public-health experts do not recommend healthy people wear face masks, you can make your own hand sanitizer and cleaning wipes should your local drugstore run dry.
Insider talked to Miryam Wahrman, a biology professor at William Paterson University and the author of “The Hand Book: Surviving in a Germ-Filled World,” about exactly how.
All you really need is alcohol, either isopropyl (rubbing) or ethyl (used in beer, wine, and spirits). As long as the solution is at least 60 percent alcohol, you can rub the liquid into your hands and let them air dry, then you’ll have effectively sanitised them.
“The bottom line is that alcohol is the active ingredient” in hand sanitizer, she said.
To make the experience a little gentler on your skin, you can moisturize after the alcohol has dried. You can also add a few drops of aloe vera to the rubbing alcohol, but make sure the liquid is over 60 percent alcohol so that the aloe doesn’t dilute it too much.
“If you drop below 60 percent, the effectiveness drops very dramatically,” Wahrman said.
OregonLive recommends mixing two-thirds of a cup of 91 percent isopropyl alcohol with one-third of a cup of aloe vera. You can also add eight to 10 drops of scented oil if you want to smell nice.
Ideally, you can forgo the hand sanitizer and just wash your hands thoroughly and frequently. Handwashing, which removes germs from your skin, remains the best way to protect against the coronavirus and other pathogens.
Hand sanitizer, by contrast, kills most germs but doesn’t remove them from your skin, Wahrman said.
“Handwashing is the most important first step, and you shouldn’t be bashful about it,” she said.
Alcohol is also the key ingredient in disinfecting wipes
To make your own disinfecting wipes, simply take a paper towel or tissue, dab it in rubbing alcohol (or any type of solution that is at least 60 percent alcohol), and wipe down whatever surface you’d like to clean.
Even before the coronavirus outbreak, Wahrman did this to her phone daily. She also does it to remote controls when travelling.
After cleaning her phone with an alcohol-moistened tissue, “it looks nice and squeaky clean,” she said, adding, “And I know most of the germs I’ve picked up along the way have been killed and somewhat removed.”
- Science Alert