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.