We all know that it’s extremely important to keep your hands clean at all costs during this time of the COVID-19 outbreak. In fact, the panic of having enough hand sanitizer has caused a widespread scarcity of Purell and other hand sanitizer brands. Don’t worry, while you may not have access to traditional hand sanitizing gel that you’re used to, there are still plenty of ways to keep your hands clean and germ-free during this trying time. We’re here to break down five alternative ways to wash and sanitize your hands. 

Make Your Own Hand Sanitizer

While hand sanitizer isn’t absolutely necessary to keep you germ-free, it certainly helps in times when you cannot make it to a nearby sink. One way to battle the hand sanitizer shortages is to simply learn how to make your own. Here are the ingredients and the directions you need to make an impressive Purell alternative in the comfort and safety of your home. 

You may already have some of these items lying around the house, and the rest is bound to be far more available than Purell itself.

Equipment:

  • Bowl and spoon
  • Funnel
  • Empty liquid soap or hand sanitizer bottle

Ingredients:

  • 2/3 cup 99% rubbing (isopropyl) alcohol  
  • 1/3 cup 100% pure aloe vera gel  

Optional: 

  • Gloves
  • 8-10 drops of essential oil for a more pleasant aroma 

Step 1: Using care to avoid skin contact with the rubbing alcohol, combine the rubbing alcohol with aloe vera as well as any essential oils you may choose to use. Mix the ingredients well using a spoon.

Step 2: Use the funnel to transfer the mixture from your bowl into the empty lotion or hand sanitizer bottle. Replace the pump, and you now have a ready-to-use hand sanitizer. 

Warnings: 

You should always remember that using rubbing alcohol in high quantities can cause damage to your skin. To maintain safety, always use a 2:1 proportion and make sure to keep the alcohol content around 60%. To combat the drying effect, it may also be a good idea to follow the use of your hand sanitizer with lotion to provide proper care for your skin. 

You should also remember that hand sanitizer on its own will not offer sufficient protection against the virus. It’s important to wash your hands with soap and water and avoid touching your face as much as possible – this is especially the case if your hands are visibly dirty. In this case, wash your hands thoroughly to avoid spreading germs to other parts of your body. 

Use Disinfecting Wipes

Disinfecting wipes are a great alternative to using Purell sanitizer. You get all of the germ-fighting benefits and a sanitary way to wipe and throw away any germs. Carry a pack with you when you have to leave your home to ensure you’re never stuck without a way to clean your hands.  

These wipes by Kleenex can be used anywhere on the skin and are made with a fragrance and alcohol-free formula, which kills 99% of germs. This means they’ll be a welcomed break for your already-dry skin. 

While it’s always a good idea to disinfect your hands, don’t forget about using sanitizing wipes for your surfaces: These by Clorox are available with and without bleach. They come in a versatile pack in case you need them for on-the-go sanitizing action. 

You can even make your own sanitizing wipes by combining the above-described hand sanitizer with some strong (preferably cloth-like paper towels). These hand towels by Kleenex are perfect. You can just wet them with the sanitizing solution and store it in an airtight zip bag. 

Use Alcohol

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, hand sanitizer containing at least 60% alcohol can be used to disinfect your hands when you’re nowhere near a sink. But when you cannot find sanitizer go for the active ingredient itself – alcohol. 

Using alcohol wipes to clean and disinfect your hands is a great, albeit skin-drying, alternative to hand sanitizer. These are made with 75% alcohol and can be used for multi-purpose cleaning. Again, this is a practice best followed by some type of skin moisturizing routine to protect your hands from over-drying. 

Should I disinfect surfaces with alcohol? 

Rubbing alcohol is an effective disinfectant for hard objects and small surfaces. Large and porous surfaces may not benefit from the treatment as much (and then there’s always the question of discoloration). Small objects, such as keys can certainly be disinfected, but we don’t recommend trying to clean your entire house with rubbing alcohol. 

Why?

Most of the rubbing alcohol you will find for household use will need to stay on the surface for a certain amount of time to properly sanitize from all germs and bacteria. The problem with this is that rubbing alcohol may evaporate before it has the necessary time to sanitize the surface. 

Can I use any kind of alcohol? 

No, not all types of alcohol can be used to disinfect and clean. Keep in mind the alcohol level needs to be at least 70% for it to be used to disinfect. Under no circumstances should you try to use alcohol meant for human consumption to clean and disinfect from viruses. If it belongs in the liquor cabinet – don’t use it. 

Use Disinfecting Soap

The truth is, no amount of hand sanitizer will take place of handwashing. Any time there a visible trace of dirt on your hands, you must wash them to ensure they are really clean. The most obvious and important way to get your hands germ free is still the true and trusted method of washing them with soap and water. While cleaning your hands with regular soap and water is fine too, we think using a disinfecting soap goes the extra mile to protect you from germs and viruses during this extreme time.  

It’s equally important to wash for at least a 20-second duration of time to properly remove the germs. Some people find it easiest to hum a familiar tune while they wash to ensure the 20-second rule is met each time without fail. If you’re out of musical ideas, the “Happy Birthday” song repeated twice is always a good measure. 

Hand Lotion with Sanitizer

While hand sanitizer may have gone flying off the shelves, there is a less-known alternative that is more readily available: antibacterial hand cream. Unlike regular hand sanitizer, this stuff is made to nourish your skin while also giving you the germ-fighting effect. Compared to some of the other alternatives, which really do threaten to dry out your hands, this is definitely a gentler method your skin will likely appreciate. 

What’s more? This stuff actually smells great, not like the chemical-factory aroma of a regular sanitizing gel. These come in scents like Tangerine-Vanilla, Raspberry-Lime, and Coconut Breeze. Beats the rubbing alcohol scent any day. 

We hope these tips help keep you safe and your hands clean from germs. Don’t let a Purell shortage make you feel out of control of your own safety. Use our alternative methods as well as all recommended precautions from the CDC to help slow the spread of the outbreak.