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Home Made Hand Sanitiser

Updated: Mar 24, 2020

We all know the drill, sing Happy Birthday twice and that is the minimum we should all be washing our hands, preferably with soap and water, but then we walk out of our homes to stock up our homes during this crisis, in fear of an impending lock down, and we panic that we're touching shopping trolley handles, door handles and the like......and yet there is no bottle of hand sanitiser available to buy......



Rubbing alcohol is more scarce yes, but it's still available and if you have to buy it in a bigger volume such as 5litres, you can use the rest to deep clean your home whilst you are self isolating or simply at home keeping your family safe from the world pandemic....


Combine in a bowl, 2/3 cups rubbing alcohol (99.9% isopropyl alcohol) - available on Amazon or eBay 1/3 cup aloe vera gel - available on Amazon or eBay Stir

Decant into a soap or pump bottle (reuse those empty plastic bottles we're trying not to buy) Give it a good shake every now and then.


Aloe vera is a much needed moisturiser in this recipe, as it stops your skin drying out. High alcohol content without it, causes cracks in the skin which can increase the risk of bacterial infection. The main active ingredient in this sanitiser is the isopropyl alcohol (isopropanol). Most commercial hand sanitisers contain either ethanol, isopropanol, n-propanol or a combination of any two.


Mixtures of 60%-80% alcohol by volume kill microorganisms, so the 66% alcohol concentration in the recipe looks about right if pure rubbing alcohol (also known as “surgical spirits”) is used. A quick look at Amazon, though, shows that it is usually sold as a pre-prepared working dilution between 50% and 70%, to be used directly on surfaces. Mixing even the 70% solution with the aloe vera will make the final alcohol concentration too low to be useful.


A 2017 study showed that both ethanol and isopropanol preparations made to the official World Health Organization (WHO) formulations inactivate the Sars and Mers viruses, which are coronaviruses related to the one that causes COVID-19. These formulations contain final concentrations of either 80% ethanol or 75% isopropanol along with 1.45% glycerol and 0.125% hydrogen peroxide.


Compared with WHO formulation

How do these homemade recipes compare with the WHO formulations? Well, not too badly since both contain the alcoholic active ingredient and an emollient. The problem might be that the 66% alcohol concentration is towards the lower end of the effective range.

Studies have shown that higher alcohol concentrations work better, and we know that the WHO 75% isopropanol or 80% ethanol formulations can kill other coronaviruses. The homemade products may not be strong enough to inactivate the virus quite as effectively as the WHO formulation. On the other hand, some commercial hand sanitisers contain as little as 57% alcohol, so these homemade products would be better than that.


In our opinion, if you want to make a homemade hand sanitiser you should go with a modified version of the first recipe, upping the rubbing alcohol to the WHO-recommended concentration: three-quarters of a cup of isopropanol and a quarter of a cup of aloe vera gel. You could even substitute glycerol for the aloe vera gel. It’s cheaper, but it won’t smell as nice.


Always follow the safety instructions on whichever alcohol you use and remember this is only for cleaning your hands. Don’t bathe in it and definitely don’t drink it!

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