by Andrew Quinn
Hand sanitiser, while good at killing viruses like Covid-19, is no substitute for the tried and tested method of washing your hands with hot water and soap. However, hot water and soap are not always readily available, which is why so many people across the UK have been stocking up on alcohol-based hand sanitisers.
Walk into virtually any pharmacy or retail outlet, ask to purchase hand sanitiser and it’s almost guaranteed that you will be told there is none left in stock.
As the famous proverb goes, ‘need is the mother of invention’. Maintaining clean hands and reducing the risk of infection is the need part of this proverb, and the invention part is homemade hand sanitiser.
Homemade sanitiser is actually much easier to make that you might think.
All you need is a spoon, measuring jug, recycled hand sanitiser or liquid soap bottle, funnel, 99 per cent rubbing alcohol (isopropyl alcohol), aloe vera gel and - if required - a few drops of your favourite essential oil, to give the hand sanitiser a pleasant smell.
In your measuring jug and using your spoon, combine 2/3 cup of the 99 per cent rubbing alcohol (isopropyl alcohol) with 1/3 cup of aloe vera gel.
Add between eight and 10 drops of your favourite essential oil, such as lavender, myrrh or mandarin.
Stir once more and using your funnel, decant gel into clean recycled hand santiser or liquid soap bottle.
How to use hand sanitiser effectively
In order to be effective a hand sanitiser has to be at least 60 per cent alcohol-based - it is the alcohol that kills the bacteria and viruses.
You also must cover your hands with the gel and let them dry naturally.
It’s important to remember that hand sanitisers should not be used as substitute for washing your hands with hot water and soap.
A version of this article originally appeared on our sister site, Belfast Newsletter
Coronavirus: the facts
What is coronavirus?
COVID-19 is a respiratory illness that can affect lungs and airways. It is caused by a virus called coronavirus.
What caused coronavirus?
The outbreak started in Wuhan in China in December 2019 and it is thought that the virus, like others of its kind, has come from animals.
How is it spread?
As this is such a new illness, experts still aren’t sure how it is spread. But.similar viruses are spread in cough droplets. Therefore covering your nose and mouth when sneezing and coughing, and disposing of used tissues straight away is advised. Viruses like coronavirus cannot live outside the body for very long.
What are the symptoms?
The NHS states that the symptoms are: a dry cough, high temperature and shortness of breath - but these symptoms do not necessarily mean you have the illness. Look out for flu-like symptoms, such as aches and pains, nasal congestion, runny nose and a sore throat. It’s important to remember that some people may become infected but won’t develop any symptoms or feel unwell.
What precautions can be taken?
Washing your hands with soap and water thoroughly. The NHS also advises to cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when you cough or sneeze; put used tissues in the bin immediately and try to avoid close contact with people who are unwell. Also avoiding touching eyes, nose and mouth unless your hands are clean.
Should I avoid public places?
Most people who feel well can continue to go to work, school and public places and should only stay at home and self isolate if advised by a medical professional or the coronavirus service.
What should I do if I feel unwell?
Don’t go to your GP but instead call NHS 111 or look online at the coronavirus service that can tell you if you need medical help and what to do next.
When to call NHS 111
NHS 111 should be used if you feel unwell with coronavirus symptoms, have been in a country with a high risk of coronavirus in the last 14 days or if you have been in close contact with someone with the virus.
Sources: World Health Organisation and NHS