Hand sanitizer is an effective alternative when you don't have access to soap and water. If you're on the go and in pinch, few drops of good quality hand sanitizer kills most germs and bacteria on your skin and protects you from transmissible illness such as flu and Covid-19.
The demand for hand sanitizer in the past was relatively moderate. But as COVID-19 swept the nation, hand sanitizer became an absolute necessity and requirement for every public building, home, and person.
As people began panicking and store shelves quickly emptied, hand sanitizers became a precious commodity. Companies couldn’t keep up with the demand for the product, and eventually consumers turned to Google and Pinterest for DIY hand sanitizer recipes.
But what seemed like a smart solution in the wake of a product shortage actually did more harm than good. Unfortunately, many problems abound with DIY hand sanitizer recipes and the ways in which they are concocted.
In fact, the FDA advises against them now.
Let’s discuss the problems with DIY hand sanitizers and why you shouldn’t make your own. But first, I’d like to cover why people started making their own hand sanitizer to begin with.
Why People Started Making Their Own Hand Sanitizer
As the fear of COVID-19 set in, stores struggled to keep their shelves stocked as the demand for hand sanitizer skyrocketed. This left many people to take matters into their own hands (no pun intended). In fact, a simple Google search of “How to Make Hand Sanitizer” returned over 69.5 million entries.
Low supply of a much sought-after item that disinfects skin from the transmissible effects of COVID-19 led people to come up with their own “solution.” And as they say, necessity is the mother of invention.
How DIY Hand Sanitizer is Made
DIY hand sanitizer recipes vary. Most commonly, recipes use a mixture of isopropyl alcohol and aloe vera gel. The ingredients are then blended together with a whisk or spoon to create hand sanitizer formula.
But while this may seem like a smart “solution” given the unavailability of professional-grade hand sanitizer at the time, DIY formulas create problems of their own.
Why You Shouldn’t Make Your Own Hand Sanitizer
Shortage of Isopropyl Alcohol
As people rushed to the store to purchase the items needed to concoct their own DIY hand sanitizer, stores ran out of isopropyl alcohol in stock because of high demand. This became a problem for those who needed isopropyl alcohol for its many versatile uses.
For example, it became a serious problem for Type 1 Diabetics, who rely on rubbing alcohol and alcohol wipes when doing glucose checks and administering insulin alcohol injections.
Increasing the demand of isopropyl alcohol made it that much harder to access for those who require it for their medical condition.
The Cost of Isopropyl Alcohol Went Up with Demand
Another negative side-effect of the increased demand for isopropyl alcohol is the subsequent hike in its price. According to the Wall Street Journal, the price of isopropyl alcohol tripled in March 2020.
As products became scarce, scalpers had a field day selling in-demand products such as hand sanitizer, isopropyl alcohol and toilet paper (among other items) at outrageous prices to desperate people during the outbreak of COVID-19.
FDA Studies Prove DIY Hand Sanitizer Ineffective
According to an article dated September 2020 by fda.gov, the FDA advises against homemade hand sanitizer formulas:
“FDA recommends that consumers do not make their own hand sanitizer. If made incorrectly, hand sanitizer can be ineffective, and there have been reports of skin burns from homemade hand sanitizer. The agency lacks verifiable information on the methods being used to prepare hand sanitizer at home and whether they are safe for use on human skin.”
There are two factors at play in the creation of DIY hand sanitizer that contribute to its potential to be ineffective:
- Unsterile Equipment
If the equipment used is not sterile, the DIY solution won’t be sterile and its ability to protect against the virus is null.
- Using the Wrong Percentage of Alcohol
Some people have used vodka, which is only 40% alcohol-significantly lower than the recommended amount of 60% needed to protect against germs and bacteria. On the other hand, some people are using 99% isopropyl alcohol-a concentration strong enough to clean electronics that is much too harsh for human skin.
If incorrect measurements are used, you’ll end up with a solution that doesn’t have enough alcohol to kill germs, or a solution that burns your hands.
Quality Hand Sanitizers Have Never Been More Available and Affordable
The main reason why you shouldn’t make your own hand sanitizer is because it is just not necessary anymore.
As popular brands such as Purell or Germ X struggled to keep up with the demand as COVID-19 cases skyrocketed in the US, many entrepreneurs with help of FDA acted to bring hand sanitizers and wipes to the market. Some companies such as distillers started making hand sanitizers in their facilities and were able to quickly get FDA registration.
Some companies like ours, started working with overseas manufacturers with existing FDA registration and national drug code and brought them to US.
As you may have noticed over the months that followed the COVID-19 outbreak, hand sanitizer began to reappear on store shelves. Hand sanitizer is now readily available and as affordable as ever (much to the chagrin of scalpers).
DIY hand sanitizers are not an effective measure against preventing transmissible illness, including COVID-19. They are often found to be unsterile and their ingredient measurements miscalculated.
On top of that, they contribute to product shortages-such as isopropyl alcohol-which negatively impacts the people who need access to these products on a daily basis. The increased demand of isopropyl alcohol caused by an uptick in homemade hand sanitizer recipe-making also caused its price to skyrocket.With the availability and affordability of professional-grade hand sanitizers on the market now, there is no need to create your own.