Amid the coronavirus pandemic, stores around the country are running out of hand sanitizers, and health officials are worried that the DIY sanitizers people are making at home aren’t safe to use, especially if the concoctions don’t contain at least 60% alcohol.
To help address the hand sanitizer shortage, some companies — including luxury conglomerate LVMH, which owns brands like Louis Vuitton and Christian Dior — are stepping up, shifting their focus to the manufacturing of sanitizer gels.
With headquarters in Paris, LVMH, for example, announced that it will be using the production lines of its perfume and cosmetic brands to produce large quantities of hydroalcoholic gels. The disinfectant gels will be distributed free of charge to health authorities in France, where the coronavirus has rapidly spread. According to Al Jazeera, France is among the hardest-hit countries, with 5,400 cases since January and 127 deaths.
A vaccine to protect against the COVID-19 virus is not currently available. To protect yourself from the spread of the virus, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends washing your hands frequently and for at least 20 seconds, especially after being in a public place, or after blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing. If soap and water aren’t readily available, a hand sanitizer of at least 60% alcohol can be used. You should cover all surfaces of your hands and rub them together until they feel dry.
But some of the handmade sanitizers fall short. (Here’s what happened when one of our own writers tried to make a popular DIY sanitizer that’s been circulating on the Internet).
Because some of these homemade concoctions may not be safe for your skin or contain the right ratio of ingredients, the Food and Drug Administration is encouraging licensed pharmacists and physicians to create hand sanitizer batches to temporarily help fill the void, according to Bloomberg. The FDA’s guidance spells out how the sanitizers should be made, with specified amounts of alcohol, glycerol, hydrogen peroxide and sterile distilled water or cold water that’s been boiled.
Distilleries are also stepping up to create hand sanitizers with high-proof alcohol. In Oregon, for example, Shine Distillery created hand sanitizer bottles with 80% alcohol that it’s been giving out for free to customers. The distillery had been using its high-proof initial product — an undrinkable liquid that’s left over after distilling vodka and whiskey — as a cleaner for drains and windows. They got the idea to use some of it for hand sanitizer, too.
Meanwhile, two brothers who went on a 1,300-mile road trip, buying out hand sanitizers from stores and then attempting to sell the bottles on Amazon for upwards of $80, will reportedly be donating the supplies they amassed after the Tennessee Attorney General’s Office opened a price-gouging investigation, according to TODAY.
A final reminder: While it’s great to have some alcohol-based sanitizers available and ready to use in a pinch, the CDC does warn that while sanitizers can reduce the microbes on your hands, they don’t eliminate all types of germs. In the end, good old-fashioned soap and water is more effective than hand sanitizer.