How to make your own hand sanitizer during coronavirus shortage

With stores across Michigan running out of cleaning supplies, soap and hand sanitizer as residents seek to protect themselves from coronavirus, a homemade sanitizer recipe may come in handy

As coronavirus bears down on Michigan, hand sanitizer is in short supply. 

After news of 16 confirmed coronavirus cases in Michigan prompted prolonged school closures, canceled public events and work-from-home orders for many workers, shoppers began emptying store shelves of sanitary and medical supplies in hopes of protecting themselves against a more widespread outbreak.

Some people have even set up side gigs buying up store stock and reselling it at a markup. Attorney General Dana Nessel has threatened to “bring the hammer down” on those caught price-gouging.

If you can’t find sanitizer on the shelves and don’t want to overpay on the black market, you might want to consider making your own. The World Health Organization recommends a recipe containing nine parts 99 percent isopropyl alcohol (also known as rubbing alcohol), a bit of hydrogen peroxide and a moisturizing agent, such as glycerol or aloe vera gel, though it appears to be written for Nobel laureates rather than mortals.

You can concoct your own recipe from aloe vera and 99 percent rubbing alcohol (or seek inspiration from a host of recipes posted online) so long as the mixture is made of at least 60 percent alcohol. Any less, and it won’t be an effective germ-killer, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

But note it’s important to get the concentration right or your sanitizer may not be effective or will be too harsh on your skin, which is why several health organizations urge people to avoid DIY concoctions. 

Sanitizer is no substitute for hand washing. The best way to keep germs including coronavirus off your hands is to wash for at least 20 seconds with soap and water.

If you insist, John Protaciewicz, chair of Case Western Reserve University’s Chemistry Department, recommends a ratio of rubbing alcohol to aloe vera as 2/3 cup to 1/3 cup, which could work out to about 62 percent alcohol, just above CDC guidelines.

Stir the ingredients to combine them, then pour the mixture into a clean plastic bottle or soap dispenser. When using the mixture, rub it on the surfaces of both hands until your hands are dry.

But also note: Sanitizer is no substitute for hand washing. The best way to keep germs including coronavirus off your hands is to wash for at least 20 seconds with soap and water.

Sandro Cinti, professor of infectious diseases at the University of Michigan, agreed Friday in a Facebook Q&A that getting 60 percent or more of alcohol is critical. 

"There are a lot of naturopathic things coming out. People saying I’ve got this olive oil and thyme and that should do it. It won’t. Those things don’t work. There’s no evidence they work, and all they will do is give you a false sense of security that you’re protecting yourself. So I know that it’s difficult to get hand sanitizing material out there. People will be trying to make this stuff at home. I think that’s probably not something we should do on a wide basis, but if you do it, make sure it’s 60 percent alcohol at least.”

Here is additional guidance on how to prevent the spread of disease: 

  • Wash your hands often, especially after blowing your nose, coughing, sneezing, or engaging in other activities that may dirty your hands. Use soap and water and scrub for at least 20 seconds. 
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth with unwashed hands. 
  • Avoid coming into contact with others who are sick.
  • If you are sick, stay home and avoid contact with others.

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Fri, 03/13/2020 - 7:39pm

Sanitizers- forget all this nonsense. The ingredients to make it are probably all gone by now. Water and soap is superior, more effective. Just keep your hands away from your face and wash when you get home.

Testing - personally there is NO NEED to be tested - it does not matter if you have CV, the flu, or a cold. Treatment is all just the same - stay home as with any sickness, call your doctor if you get short of breath or seriously ill. If you can't get tested but have had fever and lower respiratory symptoms ( a dry cough) it may make sense to stay home an extra week to protect others.

Symptoms - it is a LOWER RESPIRATORY bug. Meaning the lungs. If you have cold or flu symptoms you most likely have a cold or the flu. Even is Asia 96% are testing to have the flu! CDC does not even list diarrhea or nasal discharge as symptoms of Covid 19. DO NOT continue emptying all the shelves of T Paper and tissues - you won't need them! Others will for their usual and intended purpose.

Sat, 03/14/2020 - 11:00am

With so many closures, the only thing that will keep the economy going will be hoarding. So buy up all the stuff that could save your life and the 320 million people standing in line. Ok, I’m just being a jack-a, with my comments. Please be considerate of others. Just how many gallons of sanitizer do you need? Alcohol, aloe vera & masks? Be reasonable, people!

Sun, 03/15/2020 - 7:08pm

We worry about KimJung Un destroying the US way of life, we don’t need his assistance. We are doing just fine by hoarding and being inconsiderate to each other. I never thought I would see our society reduced to this. Thank goodness I have my CCW, and know how to use it, along with our long arms.

A. Bellows
Mon, 03/16/2020 - 12:50pm

I bypass the hands and take alcohol internally. That'll teach them bugs.

Thu, 03/19/2020 - 6:44pm

Not that I don't believe this or am I taking any of this lightly. But with the sincerity of this pandemic, how come healthcare workers at Medilodge can not protect themselves with mask. I haven't heard of anyone having it there. But wouldn't it be too late if someone catches it?

Wed, 03/25/2020 - 12:34am

Yep same at hospitals for nurses and doctors mask and other PPE equipment

Mr. Rodgers
Sat, 03/28/2020 - 12:05pm

My brother is a supervisor at UPS working out of Livingston County. They are working masks and gloves. Company won't provide them and they can't bring in or wear their own. This should not be tolerated.

Fri, 04/03/2020 - 6:56am

Everyone is aware of the COVID-19 and all the preventive measures. With the help of this video, one can make their own soap at home with ingredients and herbs which are easily available in our kitchen.
Follow this link for complete video:-

Fri, 04/03/2020 - 9:17am

Good timely article!
There are lots of shortages of all medical supplies right now, especially face masks and hand sanitizers, making your own mask or sanitizer is useful.
Ideally you are washing your hands instead, but sanitizer is useful when that option isn't available.

Stay cautious and be prepared!

I wrote an article on a similar subject here:

Wed, 04/22/2020 - 8:25am

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Thu, 05/28/2020 - 3:35am

Hand sanitizers are paramount to use when someone is not able to wash his hands. Otherwise washing hands with soap for at least 20 seconds is enough to wash off the unwanted bacteria. I like the idea of making sanitizer at home as due to its shortage during COVID-19, this article is really helpful. It's essential to buy in bulk to save yourself in the future. For more info, visit: