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  • Writer's pictureNaomi Roach

DIY Hand Sanitisers: Friend or Ineffective Foe?

With the global demand for hand sanitisers surging, and more and more of us seeking sustainable and 'all natural' formulations, many are turning to do-it-yourself (DIY) recipes, to create their own sanitising solutions. The allure of homemade hand sanitiser lies in their simplicity and readily available ingredients. However, questions arise regarding their efficacy and safety, compared to (and we stress, well-formulated and safety-checked) commercial products. In this blog post, we will delve into the world of DIY hand sanitisers, weighing their pros and cons to determine if they are reliable allies in the battle against germs or potentially ineffective foes.

  1. Understanding DIY Hand Sanitiser Recipes: Numerous DIY hand sanitiser recipes are available online, often featuring a combination of isopropyl alcohol or ethanol, aloe vera gel, and essential oils (or maybe one of these in isolation). While some of these recipes may be effective, the key lies in achieving the right alcohol concentration. Commercial hand sanitiser typically contains at least 60% alcohol, in order to effectively kill germs, making it crucial for DIY concoctions to meet this threshold.

  2. The Importance of Alcohol Concentration: One of the primary concerns with DIY hand sanitisers is the potential variation in alcohol concentration. Incorrect measurements or substitutions in the recipe can lead to a sanitiser that is either too weak to be effective or too strong, causing skin irritation. Without proper equipment and knowledge, achieving the right alcohol percentage can be challenging, making commercial sanitisers which have undergone adequate checks the safer choice (certainly in this regard at least).

  3. Consistency and Dispensing: Commercial hand sanitisers (from reputable brands) undergo rigorous quality control, to ensure uniformity and consistency. DIY versions might not achieve the same level of uniformity, leading to variations in their efficacy. Moreover, the use of improper containers can lead to spillage, degradation/destabilisation of contents, or inaccurate dispensing, all of which can impact the effectiveness of the sanitiser.

  4. Risk of Contamination: The process of creating DIY hand sanitisers carries a risk of contamination, if proper hygiene and sanitation practices are not followed. If the equipment or ingredients are not adequately sterilised, harmful bacteria or other pathogens might be introduced into the mixture, potentially causing more harm than good.

  5. Expert Recommendations: Health organisations like the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommend using commercial hand sanitisers with at least 60% alcohol for optimal germ-killing efficacy. While DIY solutions might serve as an alternative when commercial products are unavailable, they should not replace proper handwashing with soap and water as our primary hygiene measure.

  6. Natural Ingredients: A common misconception associated with DIY hand sanitisers is the belief that natural ingredients, such as essential oils, are inherently safe for use. While many essential oils do possess antimicrobial properties and add a pleasant fragrance to sanitisers, they also pose risks if not used properly. Some essential oils may cause skin irritation or allergic reactions in certain individuals. Moreover, essential oils can be potent substances, and using them in incorrect concentrations may lead to adverse effects. As with any ingredient, it is crucial to exercise caution, conduct proper research, and follow expert guidelines to ensure the safe and effective use of essential oils in DIY hand sanitisers. Commercially produced hand sanitisers are formulated and tested for safety, providing a more controlled and reliable option for germ protection.

Conclusion: DIY hand sanitisers can be tempting during times of scarcity or emergency, but they come with risks and uncertainties. The efficacy of a DIY hand sanitiser depends on achieving the correct alcohol concentration, maintaining consistency, and practicing proper hygiene during the preparation process. Where the aforementioned factors cannot be validated, it may be best to rely on commercially produced hand sanitisers, with a proven alcohol percentage, for optimal protection against germs. However, in situations where no other option is available, following expert-approved recipes and guidelines can make DIY hand sanitisers a friend for those in need. Remember, proper hand hygiene, whether through hand sanitisers or handwashing, remains a vital practice in safeguarding our health and the well-being of those around us. #SafeSanitising

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