Can I make hand sanitiser at home?
Updated: Apr 21
With shortages of hand sanitisers available for purchase during the COVID-19 pandemic, many people are starting to consider making their own. With the internet and social media becoming inundated with home recipes for hand sanitiser, and as people become more scared and more desperate, it is important to look at if this is a safe and effective alternative.
Making your own sanitiser does seem like a simple and easy option when the stores are stripped bare, but the science behind effective microbe reduction is a lot more complex than the available recipes suggest.
For alcohol-based hand sanitiser to be effective they need at least a 60% ethanol, or 70% isopropanol alcohol content. While is possible to obtain in straight 60% solutions, many recipes don’t take into consideration the percentage reduction when other solutions are added to the concoction and therefore diluting the alcohol percentage. So a 60% ethanol alcohol, doesn’t make a 60% alcohol based hand sanitiser when aloe (for example) is added.
Also as the alcohol content increases, so does the risk of irritation and reactions from the product. Irritations to the skin are very common with high alcohol content hand sanitisers, the breakdown of skin barrier leaves individuals open to other infections and can be extremely painful. Several hospitals have also alleged to have treated burns on children related to the use of homemade hand sanitisers.
As the science, the percentages and the recipes are confusing-making a mixture that is not effective is a real possibility. With this false security we run the risk of individuals feeling an inaccurate sense of safety, which may lead to more risk as they may not effectively take other precautions.
Experts agree, that as simple as homemade hand sanitisers may appear to be, the reality of making an effective sanitiser is unlikely. Leading to a waste of alcohol products that are in short supply for essential workers who really need it. Simple hand washing for 20 seconds under running water, or using a commercially available hand sanitisers like Urban Green Farms SIQURA, are an effective and safer option.