Why You Shouldn't Make Your Own Hand Sanitiser
- Parents Only
Will we ever take toilet paper for granted again? While basic sanitary products have been in scarce supply due to the heightened hygiene requirements, purchasing restrictions and panic buying induced by Covid-19, people have had to be resourceful when it comes to filling the gaps.
Making your own hand sanitiser, for instance, has been one novel suggestion doing the cyber rounds, and there are endless recipes that claim to be as effective as their commercial counterparts. However, leading consumer advocacy group Choice believes DIY alternatives may not be the best idea. Here’s why:
Nothing beats good ol’ soap and water when it comes to killing germs and maintaining hand hygiene. Washing your hands regularly for at least 20 seconds is still the best way to kill the Coronavirus. Hand sanitiser is just a plan b!
You Need Alcohol
Only hand sanitisers with an alcohol concentration of 70–95% can be effective when it comes to killing germs, however some online recipes suggest substituting this fundamental ingredient with essential oils, which would basically render it useless in the virus battle.
You can also leave your vodka in the liquor cabinet! Despite generating buzz as a worthwhile alternative, most vodka just doesn’t have a high enough alcohol concentration to kill the coronavirus, especially once diluted with other ingredients.
But Wait, There's More
According to Choice, commercial hand sanitisers also contain emollients which keep your skin soft and reduce damage, which is actually important for reducing the risk of viruses entering via the skin.
In fact, the WHO-recommended Handrub Formulations guide, often referenced on DIY websites, lists ingredients the average home-chemist is unlikely to have in their arsenal, including specialised products like alcoholometer and flammables. The trickle-down effect of depleted hand-sanitiser supplies in supermarkets has lead to some of the key DIY ingredients also being hard to find.
Using the right quantities is crucial. If you don’t get the balance of ingredients right you risk diluting the alcohol concentration and rendering the recipe ineffective.
But even with the right ratio and correct components, many experts still don't recommend doing it yourself. Without the chemical know-how that is invested in formulating safe and effective commercial sanitisers, there is just no guarantee your homebrew actually works, leaving you vulnerable to germs and viruses.
Be A Dab Hand
Either way, any hand sanitiser is only effective if it is used properly! Simply apply it to your palm, then rub it all over your hands until they’re completely dry.
For a 'handy' reminder, the NSW Department of Health has created an easy hand hygiene infographic, or for something a bit more fun you can create your own with your favourite song lyrics at Wash Your Lyrics.
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