The coronavirus has people making DIY hand sanitizer

Everyone is (understandably) pretty freaked out about the new coronavirus, which has led to a rush to buy cleaning supplies like hand sanitizer online and at local shops.

CVS and Walgreens have warned they could run out of hand sanitizer — if you visit a local store, you may find empty shelves — and options on Amazon are limited and, in some cases, seemingly pretty expensive. 

But as some folks online have pointed out, it’s possible to make your own hand sanitizer. There’ve been lots of posts about it as people grapple with gaining some semblance of control over the outbreak on COVID-19, the official name of the new coronavirus. 

Even Stephen Colbert’s The Late Show had a joking segment about making hand sanitizer using the notoriously potent liquor Everclear

But making your own hand sanitizer is possible and it’s not really even that hard. Recipes typically call for combining rubbing alcohol and aloe vera gel in the right proportions. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends washing your hands thoroughly with soap and water, but has said that as long as a hand sanitizer is at least 60 percent alcohol it can be effective at killing germs. That’s key: You’ve got to have enough alcohol in the mixture. 

Dr. Philip Tierno, professor of microbiology and pathology at the New York University School of Medicine, told Mashable in a phone conversation that as long as your mixture was 60 percent alcohol or higher, it would get the job done. 

“As far as effectiveness, any alcohol over 60 percent or higher would kill the coronavirus,” Tierno said. “The coronavirus has an outer shell that makes it a bit easier to kill [vs. other ‘naked’ viruses].”

But if you’re going to make your own sanitizer, as CNN points out, it’s really important you do it correctly.  

And, in case you were wondering, “You don’t need scents or perfumes,” Tierno said. 

But better yet, wash your hands. Just make sure you do it correctly. The CDC recommends you wet your hands, lather soap in your hands (all over) for at least 20 seconds, then rinse and dry with clean towel. Washing your hands is typically considered the best option, since hand sanitizers might not work as well on visibly soiled or greasy hands. 

For more information on the coronavirus outbreak, visit the World Health Organization’s information page.

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