The last couple of weeks changed our lives in a way we’d never expected. With our new life came a newly discovered over-obsession for hand-washing.
It’s an understatement that I spent the last 2 weeks reading and talking about hand sanitizers 24/7, after an article on one of my other blogs was read by over 300,000 people and shared by over 2,500 people on Facebook. Our blog was even recommended on a famous radio station and was invited to a morning show on live tv. Guess what, the article was about hand sanitizers. After reading and analysing comments and private messages from doctors, pharmasists and chemistry teachers, I was very keen to share my learnings in my second language where more people would understand this post.
I’ve been over-obsessing about hand-washing just as much as about Zero Waste and sustainability. The idea of making your own sanitizer, as well as your own cleaning products, juices or hummus is well under the umbrella of Zero Waste. Re-using old bottles and creating your own product as opposed to buying more disposable plastic is something I find extremely exciting and satisfying.
Before you jump on these two, don’t forget: washing your hands with water and soap for at least 30 seconds should always be your first choice.
Hand Sanitizer by WHO (scaled down)
So today I’d like to share the World Health Organization-recommended formula for hand sanitizer (75% alcohol). Their original recipe has been scaled down for home use here so you can easily make it at home in small bottles. You will need alcohol, either 91% or 99%, hydrogen peroxide and a little bit of glycerin and water to smooth the formula.
- 1 cup Isopropyl alcohol (99%)*
- 1 tablespoon hydrogen peroxide (3%)
- 1 teaspoon glycerin (98%)
- Mix the alcohol, hydrogen peroxide and glycerin into a 2-cup glass measure. Add enough water to bring the total quantity to 1 1/3 cups. Mix well.
- Pour, via funnel, the sanitizer into small glass bottles – both squeeze-type and spritzer/spray-type bottles work well.
*This can be substituted with 1 cup plus 4 teaspoons 91% Isopropyl alcohol.
The efficacy of alcohol-based hand hygiene products is affected by a number of factors, including the type of alcohol used, the concentration of alcohol, the contact time, the volume of alcohol used, and whether the hands are wet when the alcohol is applied. Small volumes (0.2–0.5 ml) of alcohol applied to the hands are not more effective than washing hands with plain soap and water. Frequent use of alcohol-based formulations for hand antisepsis tends to cause drying of the skin unless humectants or other skin conditioning agents are added to the formulations, just like 1–3% glycerol the WHO added to this recipe.
Aloe Vera Hand Sanitizer
Personally, I love when my hands smell nice after a good wash or even using a sanitiser. Therefore I’ve got another formula which uses aloe vera that I absolutely love. This is a bit more gentle with the alcohol content of 60% which is the minimum amount needed to kill germs according to CDC.
- 3/4 cup of isopropyl alcohol (99%)
- 1/4 cup of aloe vera gel
- 10 drops of essential oil, such as lavender or tree tea oil
- Pour all ingredients into a bowl, ideally one with a pouring spout like a glass measuring container.
- Mix with a spoon and then whisk it to turn the sanitizer into a gel.
- Pour the ingredients into an empty glass bottle for easy use.
Dr. Rishi Desai, chief medical officer of Osmosis, and a former epidemic intelligence service officer in the division of viral diseases at the CDC, says that the hand sanitizer recipe below will kill 99.9 percent of germs after 60 seconds.
Enjoy and stay safe x