Making your own hand sanitizer: ‘Just don’t,’ experts say

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PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — As concerns surrounding the novel coronavirus continue, some retailers are struggling to keep up with the demand for hand sanitizer.

With stores saying shelves are empty and online pharmacies being out of stock, some people have resorted to making their own, with recipes popping up all over the internet.

But experts like Angela Bengtson, PhD., an assistant professor of epidemiology at Brown University, say just don’t do it.

“If you’re going to use a sanitizer, it needs to be 60% alcohol-based,” Bengtson explained Wednesday. “When people are making them at home, there is no way to verify if it’s 60% alcohol-based, or whether there can be other ingredients in there that are unsafe to use on your hands.”

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Store-bought sanitizers typically have emollients to counter the harshness of the alcohol on the skin, according to Bengtson, so if those aren’t included in the recipe, you run the risk of hurting yourself.

“You are putting a chemical or straight alcohol on your hands,” Bengtson added.

Bengtson said the solution to being out of hand sanitizer is simple, and already in your bathroom.

“The CDC recommends the best thing you can do is wash your hands with soap and water, for about how long it takes to sing ‘Happy Birthday,'” she said.

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Anyone who has questions regarding the virus can call the R.I. Department of Health at (401) 222-8022 or visit the department’s website.

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