Hand Sanitizer Alternatives: What to buy when you can’t find hand sanitizers
By now, the instructions to”wash your hands with soap” has been firmly imprinted in your mind. Yes, the number one method to keep clean is to constantly wash your hands.
But sometimes you don’t have access to a sink and soap, or it’s inconvenient to run to the restroom every 5 minutes to wash up. With hand sanitizers in short supply, what do you do?
Here are 4 items that you can still find at stores and Amazon to keep your hands virus-free.
WASH YOUR HANDS WITH SOAP is the first and most important option. These alternatives can be used if you’re in a bind and have no immediate access to soap and water. Something is better than nothing.
No-Rinse Cleansing Foam
No-rinse cleansing foams are for made for gentle cleansing skin of the elderly and disabled. Simply pump to dispense foam, and rub into your hands until completely absorbed. No need to rinse or wipe off.
This no-rinse cleansing foam contains soap. The CDC recommends soap as the best way to destroy the coronavirus. Here’s why, from the NY Times and The Guardian: “…the virus is a self-assembled nanoparticle in which the weakest link is the lipid (fatty) bilayer. Soap dissolves the fat membrane and the virus falls apart like a house of cards and dies…”
The no-rinse cleansing foam is a soap – it contains Sodium Lauroyl Sarcosinate, a surfectant (soaps and detergents are surfectants) that is gentler on the skin, non-irritating.
- What is Sodium Lauroyl Sarcosinate? Here’s EWG (Environmental Working Group) description.
- It’s used in detergents, body wash, facial soap, liquid soap.
- Outside of the flu season, the product is also great to just have in the car, in your diaper bag, or for camping.
- It’s important to NOT wipe the soap off – remember the CDC recommends a 20-second soap-wash? Let your hands dry naturally.
Pump once or twice. It’s thick and foamy.
Lather all over your hands and between fingers. Still stays foamy for 8 seconds.
Rub it in until the foam disappears, which takes about 20 seconds.
My hands are nice and soft, thanks to the non-irritating and moisturizing ingredients.
Look for a brand that is sulfate-free, paraben-free. I chose Welmedix brand because it is a hospital-grade formula. At the time of publishing, the price was $24.85 for 3 bottles.
Everclear Alcohol in a Spray Bottle
It’s not perfect, but it works. Yep, it will dry your hands. But I’d rather have dry hands than infected hands.
Everclear Alcohol is 75.5% alcohol, which is over the level that the CDC recommends. I just pour Everclear into a travel spray bottle and SPRAY THE OBJECT YOU ARE ABOUT TO TOUCH. Shopping cart handles, door knobs, point-of-sale credit card pin pads.
You can also spray your hands after you touch the object, but it’s just as effective to spray the object you are going to touch.
To make the experience more pleasant, add a few drops of glycerin (so it won’t dry your hands as much), and few drops of an essential oil.
Travel sized spray bottles can be purchased on Amazon for as little as $12 for 12 bottles. I like these glass spray bottles.
Lysol Spray + Baggie of Paper Towels
Cut paper towels into smaller squares. Generously spray with Lysol disinfectant spray.
I’ve started wiping things I’m ABOUT TO TOUCH, vs. wiping my hands.
Not only does this help to keep me virus-free….but it also helps the person after me who touches the same object.
Instead of spraying Lysol on the object, which causes a cloud of fumes (cough cough <– oh and HEY, no unnecessary coughing in public), pre-spray the paper towels squares, place in a baggie to carry with you.
Sure, you can wipe your hands with the Lysol wipes, just chase it with a little hand lotion if you’re worried about ruining your precious manicure.
If you can’t find Lysol – the CDC also recommends a diluted bleach solution. Pour this solution into a travel spray bottle, and spray the paper towels to keep in a baggie. As I recommended before, wipe down the surface of the object you are about to touch.
- 5 tablespoons (1/3rd cup) bleach per gallon of water or
- 4 teaspoons bleach per quart of water
Other products approved by the CDC:
- Clorox 4 in 1 Disinfecting Spray
- Clorox Clean Up Cleaner
- Clorox Multi-Surface Cleaner + Bleach
- Clorox Total 360 Disinfecting Cleaner
- Lysol Bleach Multi-Purpose Cleaner
- Lysol Power Toilet Bowl Cleaner
- Lysol Disinfectant Spray
- Peroxide Multi Surface Cleaner and Disinfectant
- ZEP Antibacterial Disinfectant & Cleaner
Here’s the entire list that the CDC has linked to.
Concentrated Rinse-less Body Wash: not best choice, but will work
This Rinseless Body Bath is also made for sponge baths. In normal applications, you would dilute 1 ounce of the concentrate with 32 ounces of warm water and apply with a large sponge or washcloth.
Yes, this works like a soap, I pour a diluted solution into a travel sized shampoo bottle. Squirt a bit on my hands, rub vigorously and let air dry. It’s important to let your hands air-dry…give the formula time to do its magic on the virus and bacteria.
However, this a product I would use as second choice – the second ingredient, Propylene Glycol, is a derivative of natural gas (source: Vermont Soap Company). The third ingredient is Triethanolamine Lauryl Sulfate, a detergent.
BUT given the choice between no access to a hand-washing facility and this product (and none of the above alternatives I’ve listed above), I would absolutely use this.
4 cups water + 4 capfuls of detergent. Place in a travel sized empty shampoo bottle.
Seen on the local news channel in March 2020
Here a DIY for alcohol-based hand sanitizer
What you need:
2/3 cup Isopropyl Alcohol Antiseptic, 91 percent (also known as rubbing alcohol)
1/3 cup Aloe Vera Gel
Essential oil in your choice of fragrance (optional)
Small or medium mixing bowl
An empty container like a bottle from a travel toiletries kit or a small glass mason jar
A small piece of masking tape or adhesive labels for labeling
What to do:
Stir the Isopropyl alcohol and aloe vera gel together in the mixing bowl until they are well blended. Next add 8-10 drops of your scented essential oil. This is not necessary, but it does make it smell nice. Stir the oil in until thoroughly incorporated.
Next pour the handmade sanitizer into your empty container and seal it up. Write “Hand Sanitizer” on the piece of masking tape or label and stick it on the bottle.
Meeting CDC guidelines
When followed exactly, this recipe produces a hand sanitizer with a 60.66 percent alcohol content and meets the CDC recommendation of a sanitizer of at least a 60 percent alcohol content.
It’s also important to remember that according to the CDC using soap and water is the number one way to keep your hands germ free. But in a pinch, hand sanitizer is the best runner up option.
Just saw your article during covid-19 season. well written and so smart! Thank you.
Why have I not received any emails or updates from “Steamy Kitchens.com since March 16. And why are the giveaways that have ended still on the page.
Hi Robert – we’ve been sending you emails every week 🙂 Maybe do a search for “steamy kitchen’ in your email box and check spam folder? We’re working on getting rid of the ended giveaways. Thanks for your patience! Jaden
Merci pour ces informations pratiques.
Jaden how about using baby wipes to clean your hands as well
I wanted to say, Thank You for the alternative to hand sanitizer article. I did know some but not all of them. So, thanks. Jay
Fab article.I really appreciate the low-cost sensible solutions.
Thank you for the alternative suggestions, very helpful.
There are no sanitizers, in my area, as everybody is panic buying. I personally find that a lot of people are very selfish, at times like this. Not only is their a shortage of sanitizers, other things like toilet rolls, and tissues not forgetting food as well.
Great article..more information than most articles circulating…good suggestions if the hoarders keep one thing in mind: THE ELDERLY AND ILL AND IMMUNE COMPROMISED DESPERATELY NEED VARIOUS PRODUCTS THAT ARE NO LONGER AVAILABLE BECAUSE THEY ARE SELFISHLY BEING STOCKPILED WAY BEYOND NEED.
God bless you
i made my own hand sanitizer with alcohol, vegetable glycerin and peppermint oil due to the massive hoarding taking place of everything not even virus related . Non of the items on your list are immediately available, have to wait for April, including your waterless soap. I will stick to staying in my house and yard and washing my hands repeatedly.
It’s also possible that cider vinegar & water will work as a disinfectant. The cider vinegar has for years been able to be working with water a skin astringent and a household cleansing agent. While it could be more drying working with water mixing it with aloe juice OR gel can allow the acid to still work as a disinfectant.
Thanks so much Jaden.
I truly appreciate it. It’s impossible to find hand sanitizers in my area so this is very helpful.
I hope all of will stay safe.
Give Duke my best.
Our pets are so precious to us.
Jaden thank you for taking the time to post this valuable and vital information!
Thanks for the suggestions for hand sanitizers!
Thank you for the suggestions. I’m going to try some of these. This is scary. Trying to take it day by day and cooking at home
Great article thank you!
I am especially stoked about the rinseless body bath; having surgery on the 25th, and I had no idea something like this existed! And of courseEverclear….more than just a good time folks!
Stay safe everyone!!
Hi Jaden, I found a recipe for homemade hand sanitizer: 1 cup 91% Isopropyl alcohol, 1/2 cup Aloe Vera gel, and 8 drops tea tree oil or essential oil like lavender, lemongrass, or eucalyptus. Stay safe.
Jaden, thank you for this info. Give Duke a kiss for me, he’s a cutie. Stay safe!!!
I get MRSA mostly every year. My Wound Clinic recommended Hepiclens (spelling?) I also use a wound area wash like the Rinseless. If it’s good enough for MRSA then I think it’s good for the Wuhan virus.
you realize that if you call covid 19 the wuhan virus then smallpox should have called the american virus…there will always be new viruses developing, and where it starts and why really has not a thing to do with it.