With precautionary measures in BC surrounding COVID-19 escalating, talk about stocking up on things like non-perishable food and hygiene products is also increasing. But your local stores are out of hand sanitizers — now what?
While frequently washing your hands for at least 20 seconds with soap and water is the single best way to keep your hands clean, it is also possible to easily make your own hand sanitizer at home in the event of a shortage.
This formulation is a scaled-down version of the recipe the World Health Organization provides for local producers and will yield about half a litre of sanitizer with about 75 per cent alcohol. This is key as only sanitizers with more than 60 per cent alcohol are effective against COVID-19. You can find these ingredients in most drug stores and can prepare the whole thing with materials you can likely find in your kitchen. If you’re looking for an even easier formulation with fewer ingredients, Wired has another recipe also in line with WHO guidelines.
NOTE: Since isopropyl alcohol is flammable, you’ll want to make sure you’re in a well-ventilated area away from any open flames while you’re making this. You’ll also want to make sure to sanitize any measuring and mixing tools you use so you don’t contaminate your solution.
- 1 ⅔ cups of 99 per cent isopropyl alcohol
- 1 ½ tablespoons of 3 per cent hydrogen peroxide
- 1 ½ teaspoons of 98 per cent glycerol
- Cold, boiled water
- Measuring cup
- Sealable container for mixing
- Spray bottle(s)
- All you need to do to make your sanitizer is add the alcohol, hydrogen peroxide and glycerol to your mixing container — stirring if necessary to incorporate the glycerol.
- Add cold, boiled water until the total volume of your solution is 500 ml (a little more than 1/3 cup).
- Using the funnel, you can then transfer the solution to smaller, more portable spray bottles if you prefer.
- Once your solution is done, the WHO recommends letting it sit for at least 72 hours so any remaining wee beasties in the bottle are killed.
It is important to stress that regular hand washing is still the most effective way to keep your hands clean. Similarly, if you have access to a commercial sanitizer with more than 60 per cent alcohol, that will be a better option than making your own, but please also remember other community members who need access to the same products (when we went shopping for isopropyl alcohol, every store we went to was sold out). This information is shared to give you some knowledge that might be helpful in the future — not to panic you — because the more knowledge you have, the better prepared you will be.
For more information, UBC is maintaining a web page with updates about their response as well as links to other resources.
The author is not a health professional and it is important to note that frequent hand-washing and commercial sanitizers are better options than homemade sanitizers.