Why You Might Want to Think Twice Before Making Your Own Hand Sanitizer

  • Recipes for homemade hand sanitizers are available online, but experts say those DIY products may not be the best option during the coronavirus disease outbreak.
  • They say the recipes are too complicated for most people, and products that are mixed incorrectly can cause burns or other issues.
  • The experts say washing your hands with soap and warm water is the best way to protect against COVID-19.

FDA NOTICEThe Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has announcedTrusted Source a nationwide recall of certain bottles of Saniderm Advanced Hand Sanitizer (1 liter) due to the potential presence of methanol.

MethanolTrusted Source is a toxic alcohol that can cause adverse effects, such as nausea, vomiting, or headache, when a significant amount is used on the skin. More serious effects, such as blindness, seizures, or damage to the nervous system, can occur if methanol is ingested. Drinking this hand sanitizer, either accidentally or purposely, can be fatal.

If you purchased this hand sanitizer, you should stop using it immediately. Return it to the store where you purchased it, if possible. Ask your healthcare provider any questions you may have about the safety of the hand sanitizer you use. If you experienced any adverse effects from using hand sanitizer, call your healthcare provider. If your symptoms are life threatening, call emergency medical services immediately. For more information on how to spot safe hand sanitizers, see here.

 

As hand sanitizers become more difficult to find, experts are warning consumers to be careful about making their own or mistakenly buying do-it-yourself versions made by amateurs.

They say that proper handwashing and social distancing are the best ways to stop the spread of the novel coronavirus.

“Clean hands are a very important way to prevent infection or spread, especially with viruses like the coronaviruses, which can survive on surfaces or inanimate objects for hours to even a day or more,” Stephen Morse, PhD, MS, an infectious disease expert from Columbia University in New York, told Healthline.

“Alcohol-based sanitizer containing at least 60 percent ethanol, preferably at least 62 percent or at least 70 percent isopropanol, is officially recommended,” he noted. “It will kill coronavirus in 15 to 30 seconds, about the time it takes the alcohol to evaporate after it’s applied, so wait for it to evaporate naturally. Sanitizers are not magic. They’re really mostly for convenience, to encourage you to have clean hands when you don’t have access to soap and water or don’t have time to wash.”

Hand sanitizer price gouging

Hand sanitizers are a hot commodity in stores and online, with reports of price gouging on Amazon and products being advertised for 50 percent higher than normal.

“That’s really nasty, people taking advantage of everyone’s anxiety and good public health practice to make an extra dollar,” Dr. William Schaffner, an infectious disease specialist at the Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Tennessee, told Healthline.

“I’m really unhappy with that and particularly so since obviously all these interventions to prevent the spread of coronavirus have adverse economic effects,” he added. “There are many people who will have a reduction or some people will even lose their salaries during this period of time.”

Dr. Jaime Friedman, a pediatrician from San Diego, is hopeful President Trump’s declaration last week of a national state of emergency over the COVID-19 outbreak will help combat the price gouging.

“I think it’s terrible. Vulnerable people, like the elderly who may be on a fixed income, are not able to afford inflated prices,” she told Healthline. “Now that there is a national state of emergency, this is illegal and hopefully offenders will be prosecuted to the full extent of the law.”