March 10, 2020 / 9:22 PM / 18 days ago

False claim: Homemade hand sanitizer will protect against coronavirus

A Facebook page has posted an image with a recipe for homemade hand sanitizer (see here ). While the post does not claim it is for the current coronavirus outbreak (COVID-19), the timing and the comments on the post suggest that it may be for this purpose due to the shortage of hand sanitizer (see more on this  here ). 

The recipe includes 6 tbsp vodka, 4 tbsp aloe vera, 10 drops lavender oil, 10 drops tea tree oil. 

During the COVID-19 outbreak, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) recommend washing hands frequently with soap and water or using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol (see here )

Vodka usually contains 35-46% alcohol by volume (see: here ). This would not suffice to make it effective to fight coronavirus.

The CDC explains why lower alcohol concentration is less desirable generally, here :

“Many studies have found that sanitizers with an alcohol concentration between 60–95% are more effective at killing germs than those with a lower alcohol concentration or non-alcohol-based hand sanitizers. Hand sanitizers without 60-95% alcohol 1) may not work equally well for many types of germs; and 2) merely reduce the growth of germs rather than kill them outright.”

The WHO released a guide for local production of handrub which includes two recipes that differ greatly from the claim (see  here ). While this is not specifically formulated for the coronavirus outbreak, the two recommended recipes for local production include Ethanol 96% and Isopropyl alcohol 99.8%. 

Vodka or other drinking alcohol is not listed by the CDC in their cleaning and disinfection recommendations, visible here . Instead, they link to a comprehensive list approved by The American Chemistry Council's (ACC) Center for Biocide Chemistries (CBC), visible here . Both agencies recommend various types of cleaning products and do not mention vodka or other drinking alcohol. 

The idea that vodka might serve this purpose led to spirit maker Tito’s Vodka shutting down claims that using vodka kills the coronavirus (see here ). On March 5, 2020, they tweeted, “Per the CDC, hand sanitizer needs to contain at least 60% alcohol. Tito's Handmade Vodka is 40% alcohol, and therefore does not meet the current recommendation of the CDC. Please see attached for more information.” See the tweet here .

Demand has surged for hand sanitizer, with prices spiking and customers stockpiling on the product. Read more here .

While the use of vodka as a hand sanitizer has not been commented on by the CDC, its alcohol concentration does not meet the widely recommended 60% minimum alcohol content.

VERDICT

False: While this recipe might work unofficially, no official government recommendation includes vodka in recommended cleaning and disinfection techniques, especially not for the COVID-19 outbreak

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