DIY Hand Sanitiser Recipes Are Going 'Viral'
As cases of coronavirus rise around the world, people are going to drastic measures to protect themselves, including stock-piling on household essentials.
Hand sanitisers, antibacterial products, face masks and other general hygiene items have been in high demand for weeks, and now even toilet paper has disappeared from shelves as people panic buy.
Under such circumstances, people have begun sharing 'recipes' for DIY hand sanitisers that can be made at home.
While many of the recipes differ, all of them include one essential ingredient -- alcohol. Specifically, those products which contain at least 60 percent alcohol content, such as vodka.
According to the US Centre for Diseases Control and Prevention, alcohol-based hand sanitisers are the most effective method to use when soap and water is not available.
"Many studies have found that sanitizers with an alcohol concentration between 60–95 percent are more effective at killing germs than those with a lower alcohol concentration or non-alcohol-based hand sanitizers," the Centre says on its website.
It's important to note, however, that because of the use of alcohol it's important to be wary around children, because of the inadvertent risk of consumption.
Online DIY recipes also use a number of other main ingredients for homemade hand sanitisers, including aloe vera and vinegar.
Some of the recipes, which had been shared online even prior to the coronavirus outbreak, suggest using essential oils such as lavender and tea tree, which can also help cut through the smell of the alcohol.
Washing Hands Still The "Best Weapon"
But despite hand sanitiser products selling out in stores across the country, health authorities are continuing to remind Australians the most effective hygiene method to protect from the spread of infectious diseases is washing hands with soap and water.
Queensland's Chief Health Officer Dr Jeannette Young has repeatedly stressed the best weapon the community can use against the virus is hand-washing.
"Washing your hands is the gold standard of health advice as far as coronavirus goes," Young said again on Tuesday, as the state confirmed another case of the virus, bringing the nation's total to 36.
“Washing your hands properly and often means that you can help prevent viruses from entering your body.”
Other states have also issued similar advice to the community.
On Monday, NSW Health Minister Brad Hazard also said it was time to put a stop to the "Aussie" handshake.
“A pat on the back rather than a handshake will help,” Hazzard said.
But Curtin University's Pro Vice-Chancellor of Health Sciences Professor Archie Clements said hand sanitiser products can still form a "key part" of good hygiene.
Clements told 10 daily that regularly washing your hands, covering your face when you sneeze and cough and using tissues are the basics that all members of the community should be doing to help prevent the spread of disease.
He said people should also avoid shaking hands and physical contact where possible, particularly around large groups of people.
"Hand sanitisers are one of the key strategies, whereas face masks are probably not that useful," he said.
"I think it's probably always best to rely on commercially developed products that are being tested in terms of their effectiveness," he added.
How Is Hand Sanitiser Different From Hand Washing?
Clements said the main difference between hand sanitisers and soap and water is that handwashing is effective in the actual removal of dirt, viruses, and bacteria.
Hand sanitisers don't remove them from your hands, but simply kill the viruses and bacteria that are on the surface of the hand.
"Basically what you should do is regularly wash your hands with soap if you sneeze or cough, cover your face with a tissue and then discard the tissue in the bin."
Clements said while he wasn't surprised that stores had begun selling out of hygiene products, he believes people in the general community should be cautious and prepared, but not overreact.
He believes China's initial response to the virus outbreak allowed countries like Australia to develop an awareness of the disease and prepare themselves for a potential global spread.
"There's no need for mass panic, really the people that should be concerned are the elderly and people with pre-existing medical conditions," Clements said.
"For the general public, I think it's just practising good hygiene and going about your daily business."
Main image: @NiamhFitz