It’s very easy to overlook your hand health when you are constantly on the go. Even if you remember, sometimes the circumstances don’t allow for hand sanitization. Today with the world at a standstill because of COVID 19, you can help keep it at bay through practicing good hand hygiene. Your hands are the most common carriers of viruses and bacteria. They are singularly responsible for over two – thirds of all the diseases that make you sick. This is because your hands constantly touch or otherwise come into contact with various surfaces that might have these bacteria and viruses. You then touch yourself with those very hands, either your eyes or nose or even mouth, and they get easily transmitted to your body.
So how do you break that chain? Should you start wearing gloves? Or maybe you should stop touching altogether? All of this sounds very tedious. Most of it even goes against your natural behavior. Luckily there is a very easy method to protect you from these actions. It is by regular hand wash and making use of hand sanitizers.
What is the Requirement of Hand Sanitizer?
The best and most effective way of fighting gems and keeping your hands infection-free is by washing your hands frequently with soap and water. However, many times this is not possible when you are on the go. This is because hand washing is subject to the availability of:
So, what do you do when you cannot find any or either? This is where hand sanitizers come to your rescue. According to the Centre For Disease Control, using a hand sanitizer with 60% alcohol content effectively reduces your chances of getting sick. According to the study, sanitizers are especially linked to lower respiratory diseases. Hand sanitizers are the best alternative to hand wash. They come in compact bottles and can be easily carried around in your pocket or handbag.
Whenever you are on the go and unsure of whether you will have access to a handwashing facility, you must make it a point to carry that convenient bottle of hand sanitizer. Your hands are the major carriers of all the germs. Hence you must keep your hands free of these germs before they make their way into your system.
Making Your Sanitizer
Sanitizers are cheap and readily available in the market. But they do come laden with preservatives and chemicals that are best avoided. This is especially true if you are:
- Have certain medical conditions that prevent the use of generic sanitizers like hand eczema or some rash
- Don’t want to unnecessarily expose yourself to preservatives
- Unavailability of sanitizers in the market
These conditions can prevent you from using market sanitizers. Now more than ever, with the COVID19 making its rounds, you need to oomph up your hand hygiene. Though getting your hands on a sanitizer is proving challenging for many.
However, you need not despair. You can still take care of your hand hygiene by simply making your sanitizer at home. Below are two versions of making your sanitizer. The first one only requires ingredients already available in your kitchen cabinet or bathroom cupboard. The second one is more complex, requiring ingredients that you might have to purchase from a local store.
The first one is simple but should only be used for emergency purposes. But the second one will give you better protection. Here is a simple step by step process to get you started on both the varieties.
- Quick Emergency Use “Gel” Sanitizer
This is a quick and easy method of making sanitizer. The ingredients and recipe are shared below:
- Isopropyl Alcohol (99% alcohol)
- Aloe Vera Gel
- Tea Tree Oil
- Mix the Isopropyl alcohol with Aloe Vera gel in a 3:1 ratio.
- Then add a few drops of tea tree oil to the mixture and bottle it up.
This sanitizer is quick and easy to make and use. However, you will find that the Aloe Vera in it renders it somewhat sticky. When using 99% alcohol, you can stick to a 2:1 ratio as well to get the desired 60% potency in the sanitizer. However, the 3:1 proportion gives better results.
- More Efficient “Spray” Sanitizer
The gel sanitizer will carry through for you in situations when you simply cannot get your hands on a sanitizer. Otherwise, the preferable version is this spray one, which follows the guidelines set by WHO. It is more efficient and effective. The ingredients and recipe are shared below:
- Isopropyl alcohol
- Glycerol or glycerin
- Hydrogen peroxide
- Distilled water
- Spray bottle
- Mix 353 ml of Isopropyl alcohol with about 2 teaspoons of glycerin.
- Then mix 1 tablespoon of hydrogen peroxide to it.
- Then add 88 ml of distilled water to the solution.
- Transfer the solution to a spray bottle
The glycerin in the recipe is not essential. It just keeps your hands from getting dry. If you cannot find glycerin, then just skip it and moisturize your hands well after using the sanitizer. You can even add some nice essential oil to the mix to get it to smell nice.
Points to Note
When making your hand sanitizer, there are some points that you must take into consideration. These are:
- Sanitize the equipment you use to make the sanitizer thoroughly. These might include the mixing bowl, spatula, spoon, measuring unit, etc.
- Wipe down the countertop where you will be making the sanitizer with a diluted bleach solution.
- Wash your hands thoroughly before starting.
- Use gloves and other protective gear like eye goggle and face mask.
- Ensure that the alcohol you use is not diluted. Isopropyl alcohol should be 99% alcohol-based. Anything else and you will have to readjust the proportions of the concentration.
- Make sure that you put the mixture in a good clean, firmly sealed bottle to avoid contamination.
- WHO recommends that you let the homemade sanitizer sit for about 72 hours before using it. This will allow the mixture to kill any germs and bacteria that might have been introduced to it during the mixing process.
- Bear in mind that potency matters a lot when it comes to the effectiveness of the sanitizer. As per the Centre For Disease Control (CDC), the sanitizer must have at least 60% alcohol content to fight off the germs and bacteria, rendering them useless. Any less and your sanitizer will not be effective.
- Remember that sanitizers dry out your hands. A higher alcohol concentration will work very well in killing all the germs, but they will also wreak havoc on your hands. Hence if you have dry or sensitive hands, aim for 60% – 70% alcohol content only.
Reasons Why You Should Not Make Sanitizers
Given the current situation in India and the world, the shelves have been cleaned out of sanitizers. Under such circumstances, you are left with no choice but to make your sanitizer to better protect yourself. However, even though making your sanitizers is very tempting, it is generally not the preferred or recommended practice. There are certain drawbacks to it. Some of these are listed below:
- FDA lists a lack of research on the efficacy and reliability of homemade sanitizers as a major cause of concern. Under such unpredictability, you should avoid making your sanitizers as much as possible.
- Making sanitizer involves proportionate mixing of components. It might sound easy but is tricky and complicated on the ground. If you don’t get the concentration right then, you can end up with a harsh sanitizer or an ineffective one.
- You have to get the potency right. Sanitizers have to be at least 60% alcohol-based to make them effective. This can prove difficult to judge at home.
- The ingredients used in making sanitizer may not be readily available in the market.
When “Not” To Use Hand Sanitizer
Even though hand hygiene is paramount and hand sanitizers are the most convenient options. There are certain circumstances when you should not use any type of sanitizer and look for some soap and water to wash your hands. These situations are:
- When your hands are visibly dirty.
- When your hands are soiled.
- If you have been in contact with chemicals.
- If your hands have a rash or other skin condition
Pros and Cons of Hand Sanitizer
You think that sanitizers are the best things for your immunity. Some of the plus points of it are enumerated below:
- Easy and convenient to use.
- Afford good protection against germs and viruses.
- They are especially helpful during the flu season.
- Perfect for traveling and outdoors.
- However, they do have certain shortcomings as well. These are:
- There are certain bacteria that they cannot kill, such as Cryptosporidium (causes diarrhea) and Norovirus (stomach bugs).
- Further overexposure to hand sanitizers can and will compromise the flora of your hands.
- Also, hand sanitizers are only effective if you use the right amount and rub your hands properly.
After analyzing the benefits of hand sanitizers and homemade hand sanitizers, you might have certain doubts. Some common questions are answered below:
Can Direct Alcohol Be Used for Sanitizing Hands Rather Than Sanitizers?
Even though sanitizers require a minimum of 60% alcohol to be effective, it does not help to use direct alcohol. WHO only recommends using hand sanitizers for maintaining hand hygiene. It becomes difficult to ensure the safety and efficacy of other products when they are not specifically designed for this use.
Is There A Difference Between Hand Sanitizer and Hand Cleanser?
Hand sanitizer can only kill the germs and bacteria on your hands. They will not clean your hand from dirt and grime as a cleanser will.
Can You Eat Food After Using Hand Sanitizer or Do You Have to Wash Your Hands Before Eating?
The sanitizer will kill all the germs in your hand. So you can eat after using hand sanitizer. But make sure you let the sanitizer dry completely before easting. However, it is recommended to wash your hands over sanitizing.
Are Homemade Sanitizers Effective?
Yes, homemade sanitizers are effective if they are made following the correct guidelines. You need to keep the minimum alcohol content at 60% to make it effective against germs.
Hand sanitizers are a great way of keeping your hands’ germ-free and maintaining hand hygiene. However, you should not attempt to make your sanitizers unless you have all the equipment, including an alcoholmeter with you. Homemade sanitizers are not recommended by the WHO since it’s very difficult to judge the alcohol content at home. At the end of the day, washing hands with soap and water is the best way to hand hygiene.