Washing hands with soap and water is the #1 recommended way to prevent the spread of Coronavirus. But if you don’t have access to soap and water, what can you do?
>>>The CDC recommends using a hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.<<<
Because a review of 22 studies found that the following can inactivate human coronaviruses:
- 62-71% ethanol alcohol
- 0.5% hydrogen peroxide
- 0.1% sodium hypochlorite (i.e., bleach)
And not only that, researchers have found that human coronaviruses can live on inanimate surfaces like metal, glass or plastic (think your mobile phone, keyboard, countertops, credit cards – you name it!) for up to 9 days!
So your best bet to protect yourself and your kids is to keep your hands clean and disinfect surfaces with what the studies have shown can actually kill human coronaviruses.
While hydrogen peroxide and bleach may be fine for surfaces, they’re not ideal for our hands, which is why the CDC recommends a hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.
Many of you have asked me about colloidal silver or witch hazel, and the truth is – we don’t know. And to be totally honest, I wouldn’t risk it. I can only recommend what the studies show can actually work …
Cleaning our hands thoroughly and frequently is a critical step in preventing the further spread of the 2019 novel Coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2. But with the run on Purell and other alcohol-based hand sanitizers, there aren’t many options available on the shelves that have at least 60% alcohol.
There are cautions with making your own hand sanitizer, as it can be challenging to get the right proportions to have enough alcohol to effectively combat Coronavirus, but not too much to dry your hands out until they’re raw and cracked. However, if you don’t have access to running soap and water, and can’t find a hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol, the best option if you’re in a pinch may be to make your own.
I’ve had many questions on how to make your own 60% alcohol-based hand sanitizer, so here are some options. All you need are 2 ingredients: Isopropyl Rubbing Alcohol + Aloe Vera Gel. (If you’re allergic to aloe or just can’t find any, you can use vegetable glycerin instead). All you need to know is the right proportion of isopropyl rubbing alcohol to aloe vera gel to make it at least 60% alcohol. Remember, your hand sanitizer should be at least 60% alcohol to have activity against Coronavirus. So using a little bit of math, here are 3 recipe options using the different percentage rubbing alcohols you’ll find:
Option 1 with 99% Isopropyl Rubbing Alcohol:
- 2 parts alcohol
- 1 part aloe vera gel
(For example: 2/3 cup alcohol + 1/3 cup aloe vera gel)
Option 2 with 91% Isopropyl or Rubbing Alcohol:
- 3 parts alcohol
- 1 part aloe vera gel
(For example: 3/4 cup alcohol + 1/4 cup aloe vera gel)
Option 3 with 70% Isopropyl or Rubbing Alcohol:
- 9 parts alcohol
- 1 part aloe vera gel
(For example: 90ml or 3 ounces of alcohol + 10ml or 2 teaspoons of aloe vera gel)
Pour into a dispenser bottle and shake well to mix. If you’re using multiple bottles, you can mix first in a bowl then transfer with a funnel.
>>> Please note: Option 3 is very runny, and may work better for use in a spray bottle <<<
If desired, you may consider adding any of the following essential oils that studies have found to have possible antimicrobial activity against Coronavirus, Influenza, and the many other circulating cold and flu viruses:
- (Sage) Salvia officianalis
- Tea Tree
- Your favorite!
** Please note – some of these essential oils may be irritating to sensitive skin. Use sparingly – 1 or 2 drops may be enough. Before using, do a patch test by applying a small amount on forearm and waiting 24 hours to see if there is any reaction.**
PLEASE: remember to rub your hands vigorously after applying your alcohol-based hand sanitizer for at least 30 seconds, making sure you get your palms, back of hands, between fingers, and under fingernails – just like you would if you were washing with soap and water!
And remember, washing hands with soap and water is the preferred method of keeping hands clean. To make sure you and your kids are washing your hands effectively to reduce Coronavirus spread, be sure to read my article Handwashing and Coronavirus: Are you doing it the right way?
As always, I love hearing from you so please be sure to leave any comments below. And please share this article with any parent you know who could benefit!
xo Holistic mama doc – Elisa Song, MD
P.S. To get my latest updates on how to best prepare your family for COVID-19, be sure to sign up for my newsletter and ready my article Coronavirus: What a pediatrician wants you to know