Stores out of hand gel or Clorox wipes? Never fear — here are inexpensive solutions to help decontaminate your hands and any items you bring into your home.
In my Hosting a Home Movie Night in Quarantine article, I promised a few easy and inexpensive decontamination recipes if your stores are out of sanitizing hand gel or wipes:
- Buy some regular bleach and a big pack of baby wipes to make your own instant sanitizing wipes. Baby wipes are all over the shelves in stores. No one is buying them, since they lack the necessary alcohol to decontaminate your hands, kitchen counters, packages, and groceries from outside the house. In Brazil (yes, I’m living overseas until the crisis resolves), I bought a huge vat of baby wipes (containing aloe vera…which helps my over-sanitized hands stay comfortable…you can buy straight aloe vera from the pharmacy and add your own). I opened the top and poured in the bleach, in small amounts. Try a couple of capfuls and see how you feel about it. Then use the wipes on everything, and don’t be stingy. The CoVid19 coronavirus persists on various surfaces anywhere from 8 hours (paper) to 4 days (wood).
- Keep a mug of bleach and dish soap solution. On my counter, next to the altered baby wipes, I have a little mug with water, a capful of bleach, and a healthy squirt of dish detergent. I use this right on my hands and goods to decontaminate things, and also dip my baby wipes in them to clean off the counters where my possibly viral-loaded items were sitting. Remember to decontaminate light switches, remotes, fridge handles, doorknobs…all the usual suspects people touch all day without thinking about it.
- Isopropyl Alcohol. This is better for your electronics than bleach. Get a bottle and some cotton balls, and use them on your phone and laptops in the morning, evening, and after using them in public. With all the metal, plastic and glass in these essential daily items, CoVid could happily lurk on them. Don’t neglect this. Anecdote: don’t use bleach on these things if you can help it. In Brazil, isopropyl alcohol is not available in pharmacies. I was told only hospitals have them. So I’m forced to use the bleach solution…and my phone is acting up. It’s still usable, but not every function works right anymore. Irksome, but better than getting sick, eh?
- Make your own handmade hand gel. Buy these three things: 100% aloe vera gel, isopropyl alcohol (99% strength or ethanol (AKA, grain alcohol, at 90%-95%), and glycerin. Fill a bottle/jar with aloe vera and the alcohol in a 1:1 ratio, or experiment with how runny/viscous you want your gel. Then add the glycerin up to a 10% ratio. This is the minimum amount needed to kill most germs, according to the CDC. You actually don’t need the glycerin (you can find it in most pharmacies – just ask if you can’t find it), but it helps provide a soothing, smoothable texture to the mix, and helps against drying out your hands. Glycerin is a major ingredient in hand lotions: look at the ingredients of your favorite lotion. You can also add a drop or two of essential oils if you like; there are many great ones that offer possible antimicrobial effects. Don’t rely on essential oils alone, please. Use the serious stuff you’d find in hospitals. This is no time to be homeopathic/naturopathic and be guessing if they work. Things are just too serious to rely on unproved remedies.
- Have some hand gel? Stretch it out like the locals do in Brazil — with hard liquor. No joke: public places here are adding tequila or whiskey to their pump bottles. It stinks like booze on your hands for only a few minutes, but it works. All alcohol is an antiseptic. Go for the higher content percentage liquor, like 70% — the hard stuff. Seriously.
Water and soap: still the BEST option.
Use warm water if you can (hot is not necessary), and plenty of soap. Rub hands (under nails, around thumbs, and include the back of hands) for 20 seconds. I have a nail brush to get under those nails where the virus can lurk. Rub well and sing the ABCs or happy birthday song twice. Or set a 20 second timer. Pretend you are a doctor heading into surgery. In a way, we all are…we’re excising the deadly Coronavirus.
Note: I’m not a doctor or health care professional, so make sure you aren’t allergic to bleach or anything I’ve recommended here as a sanitizer.
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