Dispensing hand sanitiser onto fingers.
News
6 April 2020

Downsides to DIY hand sanitiser

Washing with plain soap and water is your best option.

As the Covid-19 lockdown continues, we’ve had complaints coming in that some retailers are charging sky-high prices for hand sanitiser – up to $50!

Many supermarkets have also been short on stock.

The situation has resulted in a multitude of homemade recipes for hand sanitiser appearing online, with claims they're just as effective as commercial products.

Handwashing is still best

Proper hand hygiene is vital for limiting the spread of coronavirus, as well as colds and flu. But if you can’t find any hand sanitiser, don’t panic.

Regularly washing your hands with soap and running water for at least 20 seconds is still the most effective way to eradicate germs.

Hand sanitiser can be useful if you don’t have access to clean water. But with most of us at home during the lockdown, that shouldn’t be a problem. Plain soap and water will get the job done.

DIY downsides

To be effective at killing germs, hand sanitisers must contain a sufficient alcohol concentration – at least 60%, the Ministry of Health advises.

Some online recipes suggest using essential oils instead of alcohol – rendering it ineffective in the fight against coronavirus, let alone any other virus.

Other articles or online posts reference the guidelines released by the World Health Organization (PDF, 305KB).

Only problem?

Those guidelines aren't aimed at the average DIY enthusiast and require materials you're unlikely to have lying around, such as an alcoholometer and large quantities of highly flammable ingredients.

Commercial hand sanitisers also contain emollients to keep your skin soft and reduce any damage. Important, because dry and damaged skin can increase the risk of bugs entering through cuts in the skin.

While many DIY recipes suggest adding aloe vera for its moisturising properties, if you don't get the ratio right you also run the risk of diluting the alcohol concentration, rendering it ineffective.

Crowd of people walking.

Coronavirus (Covid-19)

Read our latest articles on the Covid-19 pandemic. Got a consumer-related question about coronavirus? Email us at info@consumer.org.nz and we'll do our best to help.

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