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Coronavirus causes shortage of hand sanitizers in stores; here's how to make your own

If you’ve tried shopping for hand sanitizer recently, you may have had a difficult time finding a store that has some in stock.

A recent report shows that the demand for hand sanitizer has increased about 1,400% in recent weeks.

While health experts still recommend washing your hands as the best way to prevent the spread of germs, they acknowledge that hand sanitizer is a more convenient way to kill off viruses.

Robert Kirchdoerfer, an assistant professor of biochemistry at the University of Wisconsin — Madison, said that the alcohol in hand sanitizer can deactivate the Coronavirus if you come into contact with it.

“So Coronaviruses are enveloped viruses and what this means is the viral genomic materials is wrapped in a layer of lipids. What the alcohol is doing is going in and disrupting that layer of lipids. So essentially it’s like popping the balloon,” Kirchdoerfer said.

Kirchdoerfer also said that the soap you use to wash you hands works the same way.

But because the demand for hand sanitizers is increasing, if you aren’t able to find any in stores, and aren’t willing to pay the increased prices online, here’s how you can make your own:

  • Mix 1/3 cup of aloe gel with 2/3 cup of rubbing alcohol.
  • Add 5-10 drops of essential oil to mask the smell of the alcohol.
  • Mix it all together and then use a funnel to pour it into a bottle of your choice.
  • Voila! You have your own home-made hand sanitizer.

Kirchdoerfer said if you want your sanitizer to be as effective as possible, the overall product must be at least 60% alcohol.

“You have to use a fairly high concentration of rubbing alcohol,” he said. “So, this is really only going to work if you use the 90 or 100% rubbing alcohol. If you start with 70% and you dilute it further, you’re not using enough alcohol to inactivate the virus anymore.”

An at-home sanitizer will also provide a good way to avoid price-gouging for hand sanitizer products in stores and online.