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WHO Provides Instructions for Homemade Hand Sanitizer

Hand sanitizer is sold out at a grocery store Thursday, March 5, 2020, in Nashville, Tenn. Tennessee has confirmed its first case of the new coronavirus, state Department of Health Commissioner Lisa Piercey announced in a Thursday morning news…

Soap and water are best for getting rid of the germs on your hands, provided you scrub for at least 20 seconds, but if that’s not possible, hand sanitizer also works.

Normally, hand sanitizer, or handrub, is inexpensive and widely available. But many areas of the United States are sold out as coronavirus cases multiply. Commercial hand sanitizer is now hard to get even where COVID-19, the novel coronavirus, hasn’t hit.

Fortunately, it’s easy to make at home. WHO says its “recommended handrub formulations can be used both for hygienic hand antisepsis and for presurgical hand preparation.”

Making it is easy. The instructions will make 10 liters, but as with any recipe, you could also make less as long as you keep the proportions the same. You will need:

8,333 ml of 96% ethanol
417 ml of hydrogen peroxide
145 ml of glycerol 98%

1. Pour the alcohol into a large bottle or tank that can hold 10 liters of liquid.
2. Add hydrogen peroxide.
3. Add glycerol; expect it to be thick and sticky.

Next, fill the tank up to the 10 ml mark with cold water that has been boiled or distilled. Mix the solution by gently shaking the container or use a clean stirring stick or spatula.

Ethanol is relatively inexpensive. Glycerol is also low-cost and helps prevent your skin from drying out.

WHO provides another solution using isopropyl alcohol, glycerol and hydrogen peroxide.

YouTube is filled with videos of how to make your own hand sanitizer, which may or may not have been tested. WHO had its handrub formulations tested by two independent laboratories in different countries to make sure they work. For more information, see the instructions on WHO’s website.

News reports have surfaced of Americans attempting to make hand sanitizer with vodka. On Thursday, an American vodka producer warned customers that its spirit is only 40% alcohol, well below the proportion needed to effectively kill germs.

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