How to make your own hand sanitizer and cleaning wipes

Shoshy Ciment/Business Insider
  • Washing your hands frequently and thoroughly is the best way to protect yourself against the novel coronavirus.
  • When you can’t access warm water and soap, hand sanitizer is the next best option.
  • Making your own hand sanitizer is pretty simple, but it’s important to calculate the “recipe” correctly in order for it to be effective.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

The coronavirus pandemic has inspired people to make their own sourdough and banana bread, why not hand sanitizer and cleaning wipes too?

Insider talked to Miryam Wahrman, a biology professor at William Paterson University and the author of “The Hand Book: Surviving in a Germ-Filled World,” about exactly how.

All you really need is alcohol, either isopropyl (rubbing) or ethyl (used in beer, wine, and spirits). As long as the solution is at least 60% alcohol, you can rub the liquid into your hands and let them air dry, then you’ll have effectively sanitised them.

“The bottom line is that alcohol is the active ingredient” in hand sanitizer, she said.

To make the experience a little gentler on your skin, you can moisturize after the alcohol has dried. You can also add a few drops of aloe vera to the rubbing alcohol, but make sure the liquid is over 60% alcohol so that the aloe doesn’t dilute it too much.

“If you drop below 60%, the effectiveness drops very dramatically,” Wahrman said.

OregonLive recommends mixing two-thirds of a cup of 91% isopropyl alcohol with one-third of a cup of aloe vera. You can also add eight to 10 drops of scented oil if you want to smell nice.

Ideally, you can forgo the hand sanitizer and just wash your hands thoroughly and frequently. Handwashing, which removes germs from your skin, remains the best way to protect against the coronavirus and other pathogens.

Hand sanitizer, by contrast, kills most germs but doesn’t remove them from your skin, Wahrman said.

“Handwashing is the most important first step, and you shouldn’t be bashful about it,” she said.

FILE - This July 15, 2011, file photo shows Clorox brand products line the shelf of a supermarket in the East Village neighbourhood of New York. A handful of companies are rising to new highs even as stock markets around the world tumble on worries about a rapidly spreading virus. Clorox is close to an all-time high after jumping Monday, Feb. 24, 2020, amid expectations that more homes and hospitals will use its disinfecting wipes, for example. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer, File)Associated PressYou can use rubbing alcohol and a tissue in place of name-brand disinfecting wipes.

Alcohol is also the key ingredient in disinfecting wipes

To make your own disinfecting wipes, simply take a paper towel or tissue, dab it in rubbing alcohol (or any type of solution that is at least 60% alcohol), and wipe down whatever surface you’d like to clean.

Even before the coronavirus outbreak, Wahrman did this to her phone daily. She also does it to remote controls when travelling.

After cleaning her phone with an alcohol-moistened tissue, “it looks nice and squeaky clean,” she said, adding, “And I know most of the germs I’ve picked up along the way have been killed and somewhat removed.”

Business Insider Emails & Alerts

Site highlights each day to your inbox.

Follow Business Insider Australia on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram.