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. Some drugstores are selling out of or running low on sanitizer, as well as cleansing wipes for surfaces.
- Here’s how to make your own hand sanitizer and cleansing wipes, according to a germ expert.
First, it was face masks. Now, hand sanitizer. Items that weren’t valuable just a couple months ago are now coveted, hoarded, and flying off store shelves .
While public-health experts don’t recommend healthy people wear face masks , you can make your own hand sanitizer, and cleaning wipes should your local drugstore run dry.
Topnews Tv talked to Maryam Z. Wahrman , a biology professor at William Paterson University and 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 for beer, wine, or spirits). So long as it contains at least 60% alcohol , you can rub the liquid into your hands, let them air dry, and you’ll have effectively sanitized 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. Or add a few drops of aloe vera to the rubbing alcohol (as long as it’s over 60% alcohol to ensure the aloe doesn’t dilute it too much).
“If you drop below 60%, the effectiveness drops very dramatically,” Wahrman said.
OregonLive recommends mixing 2/3 cups of 91% isopropyl alcohol with 1/3 cups of aloe vera, You can add eight to 10 drops of scented oil too if you want to smell nice, too.
Ideally, however, you can forgo the hand sanitizer and just wash your hands thoroughly and frequently. Hand-washing, which actually 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.
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, again, any type of solution that has at least 60% alcohol), and wipe down whatever surface you’d like to clean.
Even before the novel coronavirus outbreak, Wahrman did this to her phone daily. She also does it to remote controls when traveling.
After cleaning her phone with an alcohol-moistened tissue, “it looks nice and squeaky clean,” she said, “and I know most of the germs I’ve picked up along the way have been killed and somewhat removed.”