With the global spread of COVID-19 which has been ongoing for several months now, hand sanitiser, which was once only really used by health professionals and the super hygiene conscious, has become something that we carry with us every single day. And this comes at a cost.
Although hand sanitiser is now widely available and can be bought almost anywhere, which has driven down costs, there are plenty of people who are still looking to save money by either buying hand sanitiser in bulk or making their own.
Keep reading to learn more about making hand sanitiser at home, including important information about the safety and risks of doing so.
Can you make your own hand sanitiser at home?
Generally speaking, you shouldn’t try to make your own hand sanitiser at home. There are a lot of risks that are involved, particularly that of using ingredients that have no effect on the pathogens that cause COVID-19. The last thing that you want to be doing is using a homemade hand sanitiser wrongly thinking that it’s protecting you, only for it to be doing nothing—this could cause you to spread the virus unknowingly.
Research has shown that only hand sanitisers that contain high levels of alcohol such as 60% ethanol and 70% isopropanol are any good at killing viruses and pathogens that cause COVID-19. Anything else aside from specially formulated alcohol-free hand sanitisers are unlikely to work, and these are virtually impossible to make in the home because they require specialist equipment.
Even approved alcohol-based hand sanitisers can’t kill all pathogens. Examples of these include:
- Clostridium difficile
There have also been recorded cases of the use of methanol in both homemade and professional-grade hand sanitisers. Although the professional-grade methanol sanitisers were quickly recalled by the United States Food and Drug Administration, nothing can be done about people using homemade methanol-based sanitisers.
Methanol a toxic alcohol that can have adverse effects, such as nausea, vomiting, or headache, when a significant amount is used on the skin. More serious effects, such as blindness, seizures, or damage to the nervous system, can occur if methanol is ingested.
Unfortunately, this is something that a hobbyist making their own hand sanitiser at home is unlikely to know.
Although there is no shortage of hand sanitiser recipes currently available online, the experts say that these should not be used. There is no safety guarantee and they might not be effective at killing pathogens.
When is homemade hand sanitiser recommended?
Homemade hand sanitisers are intended for use by professionals who have the expertise and resources to safely make them. It’s also only recommended in extreme situations where you’re both unable to wash your hands with soap and water and are also unable to get a hold of hand sanitiser by buying it—something that is now very unlikely.
Even when you follow a recipe, mistakes can be costly. Improper ingredients or proportions can lead to:
- A lack of efficacy, meaning that the sanitizer may not effectively eliminate the risk of exposure to some or all microbes
- skin irritation, injury, or burns
- exposure to hazardous chemicals via inhalation
Homemade hand sanitiser can also be particularly dangerous for children depending on the ingredients that have been used.
The bottom line
Hand sanitiser is a super convenient and handy on-the-go product that can help prevent the spread of germs when handwashing with soap and water isn’t available. It’s also ideal for use where handwashing might not be necessary, such as when you’ve touched a door handle or have taken a ride on the bus.
Although people may have been tempted to make their own hand sanitiser in the early days of the pandemic when hand sanitiser was widely unavailable, things have changed since then. There are plenty of places where you can buy hand sanitiser now; it’s in almost every store and widely available online, including here at HandStations.co.uk where we stock both alcohol-free and alcohol hand sanitiser.
Hand sanitiser that’s produced by a reputable and regulated manufacturer and is sold through a trustworthy store or premises is always going to be completely safe to use. On the other hand, homemade hand sanitiser could well be more trouble than it’s worth and do very little to protect yourself from viruses and pathogens including COVID-19.