Ah, the precious commodities we hold dear when global panic takes hold. Despite the coronavirus pandemic effectively ridding of supermarkets of the essentials, such as toilet paper and minced meat, the most in-demand item on everyone’s list is hand sanitiser. Even massive brands like How to Make Friends as an Adult. Aussie supermarkets and chemists are selling out of hand sanitisers at alarming rates, prompting the Prime Minister to call for an end to hoarding. But even though the shelves may be empty, all is not lost. DIY hand sanitiser is easier to make than you would think and most homemade hand sanitisers do a remarkably good job at keeping the germs away.
So good in fact, that the World Health Organisation (WHO) has even provided tips for making DIY hand sanitiser. If you are starting to run low of the good stuff, this is a guide to making your own homemade hand sanitiser.
What Ingredients Do You Need for Homemade Hand Sanitiser?
According to the guidelines set out by the WHO, the ingredients you need for DIY hand sanitiser and fairly easy to come by. Provided you have a decent-sized (1-litre) glass or plastic bottle with screw-threaded stoppers lying around, you can bottle the mixture yourself. For those with a heavy-duty production in mind, you could also use some 50-litre plastic tanks (preferably in polypropylene or high-density polyethylene, translucent so as to see the liquid level) or stainless steel tanks with a capacity of 80–100 litres. But don’t stress too much, our guide to homemade hand sanitiser is developed for in-home use, not for those looking to start a new business.
The basic ingredients you’ll need for DIY hand sanitiser are;
- 1/3 cup of 96% ethanol – Buy it here
- 1/4 tsp of 98% glycerin – Buy it here
- 1 tsp of hydrogen peroxide – Buy it here
- 1/2 tbsp distilled water (to give a final concentration of around 80% ethanol) – Buy it here
It’s also a good idea to have a few key tools on-hand as well. Be sure to put aside;
- Wooden, plastic or metal paddles for mixing – Buy it here
- Measuring cylinders or measuring jugs – Buy it here
- Plastic or metal funnel – Buy it here
- 100 ml plastic bottles with leak-proof tops – Buy it here
- 500 ml glass or plastic bottles with screw tops – Buy it here
- An alcoholometer: the temperature scale is at the bottom and the ethanol concentration (percentage v/v) at the top – Buy it here
Once you have all your tools and ingredients set out, you are ready to start making your own homemade hand sanitiser.
DIY Hand Sanitiser Recipe:
When getting ready to begin the process, remember to be careful. While these ingredients aren’t likely to cause serious harm, it is still advised that you take careful consideration. After all, you are working with alcohol, which is highly flammable, so maybe avoid having a smoke or cooking dinner while you make your DIY hand sanitiser. This method, as explained by WHO, will make enough homemade hand sanitiser to keep you going.
Step by step preparation:
- Pour the alcohol for the formula into the large bottle or tank up to the graduated mark
- Add the Hydrogen peroxide using the measuring cylinder
- Then, add Glycerol using a measuring cylinder. Glycerol can be very viscous, sticking to the wall of the measuring cylinder, so it’s a good idea to rinse with some sterile distilled or cold boiled water and then empty into the bottle/tank.
- Top the bottle/tank up with sterile distilled or cold boiled water.
- Place the lid or the screw cap on the tank/bottle as soon as possible after preparation, in order to prevent evaporation
- Mix the solution by shaking gently where appropriate or by using a paddle
- Immediately divide up the solution into its final containers (e.g. plastic bottles), and place the bottles in quarantine for 72 hours before use. This allows time for any spores present in the alcohol or the new/re-used bottles to be destroyed.
How Does Hand Sanitiser Work?
While the homemade hand sanitiser recipe is relatively simple in nature, the impact it has can be enormous. There are a lot of things going on underneath the surface. If you’re wondering how hand sanitiser works, the active ingredients of ethanol/alcohol kill the protein that surrounds the virus, stopping it before it can infect you. The glycerol acts to moisturise your hands simultaneously, as alcohol can dry out your skin. Finally, the hydrogen peroxide kills any remaining bacteria that might have grown while you made the recipe.
Is Hand Sanitiser Effective?
Research has readily confirmed that hand sanitiser is indeed effective against the spread of germs. While it is far from a cure for viruses, it can certainly play an important role in the prevention of contamination.
“At present, alcohol-based handrubs are the only known means for rapidly and effectively inactivating a wide array of potentially harmful microorganisms on hands,” the WHO says. “According to the available evidence on efficacy, tolerability and cost-effectiveness, WHO recommends using an alcohol-based handrub for routine hand antisepsis in most clinical situations.”
The Bottom Line on Homemade Hand Sanitiser
So, if you’re caught in a situation where the disinfectant aisle is bare, think about whether your next DIY project might be homemade hand sanitiser. It’s easy to make and extremely valuable to have in situations like the one we find ourselves in currently.
Still got questions? We’ve got you covered.
When should you use hand sanitiser?
The World Health Organisation recommends washing hands with soap and water whenever possible because handwashing reduces the amounts of all types of germs and chemicals on hands.
Is homemade hand sanitiser as effective as store-bought?
Both homemade hand sanitiser and store-bought gels will have similar ingredients and characteristics. Provided both are evenly mixed, contain the appropriate levels of alcohol, glycerin and hydrogen peroxide, they will be effective against the spread of germs.
Can you make DIY hand sanitiser without alcohol?
Yes. It is possible to make DIY hand sanitiser without alcohol, however, there is little evidence to support whether natural hand sanitiser that use essential oils are as effective as alcohol-based solutions.