The Scientific Research Council (SRC) is calling on citizens to be mindful of the hand sanitisers they create to protect themselves against the coronavirus (COVID-19).
“You want to ensure that the solution you are creating is strong enough to kill microbes, such as the virus which causes COVID-19. The two main agents that we recommend using in the household are bleach and alcohol. Bleach, however, should not be used on the skin, but instead on surfaces,” Manager, Product Research and Development Division, Scientific Research Council, Dr Charah Watson said.
Watson pointed out that the concentration of alcohol is very important when creating homemade hand sanitisers and urged persons to be mindful of using too little or too much.
“The hand sanitisers on the market normally contain 62 per cent alcohol. To kill the virus which causes COVID-19, you need at least 60 per cent alcohol, but to be sure, I’d recommend using 70 per cent. Bear in mind that adding water or other over-the-counter pre-made gels can interfere with the alcohol concentration level and the overall effectiveness of your hand sanitiser,” she explained.
“You can add a little bit of glycerine to the alcohol hand rub to reduce the drying effect. For each 240-millilitre bottle of alcohol, you can add a quarter teaspoon of glycerine. If you want to add aloe vera, I would recommend adding a quarter teaspoon of the gel from a freshly cut stalk. Over-the-counter aloe vera gel products have additives which can reduce the alcohol concentration of the hand sanitiser,” Watson said.
She advised against adding fragrances, as hand sanitisers are frequently used and continued exposure to strong fragrances in sanitisers may trigger allergic symptoms that can resemble those of COVID-19, such as sneezing.
Meanwhile, Watson is reminding citizens that hand sanitisers should not replace regular handwashing.