Hand sanitizer prices surge to $50 a bottle — here's how to make it at home for under $2

@rita.sav | Twenty20

There were over 700 confirmed cases of the coronavirus in the United States as of March 10, according to NBC News. To prevent the spread of COVID-19, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends diligently washing your hands with soap and water to kill germs and harmful bacteria whenever possible.

When a sink isn't an option, using a hand sanitizer to rub your hands is a good alternative — as long as the formula has an alcohol content of at least 60%, the CDC says.

Those recommendations have led to hand sanitizer shortages in retail stores and online. And as the supply goes down, prices surge. A 12-ounce Purell bottle, which retails for around $4.50, was selling for $50 a bottle on Amazon as of Thursday. (Amazon has pledged to crack down on price gouging and has suspended many sellers from overcharging.)

If the cleaning aisles of your local stores are bare and you don't want to shell out unnecessary cash, you can make hand sanitizer at home that meets CDC guidelines and is effective at killing germs, according to Melissa Maker, host of the CleanMySpace YouTube channel and founder of Clean My Space, a housekeeping service based in Canada.

Her homemade sanitizer takes about a minute to make and costs just $1.10. The key ingredients are rubbing alcohol and pure aloe vera gel. You can add in a moisturizer like almond oil to prevent your skin from drying out, and a few drops of an essential oil, like eucalyptus, to make the smell of rubbing alcohol a little less harsh, says Maker.

Here's her recipe:

DIY hand sanitizer
Melissa Maker
Clean My Space founder
per 6 fl. oz.
Prices based on national averages.
  • ¼ cup pure aloe vera gel $0.50
  • ½ cup rubbing alcohol $0.24
  • 1 tablespoon nourishing oil like vitamin E, jojoba, or sweet almond $0.20
  • 15 drops of essential oils like lavender, tea tree, vanilla, thyme, rosemary, lemon or peppermint $0.15
  • Mix the solution together in a clean squeeze bottle and adjust the amount of rubbing alcohol to achieve your desired consistency. Shake well and use as needed.
Download recipe

Although hand washing is optimal, hand sanitizer is effective for preventing illness, says Aubree Gordon, associate professor of epidemiology at the University of Michigan's School of Public Health — even sanitizer you make yourself, as long as you follow guidelines. To avoid making a sanitizer that's less effective than a store-bought version, use an extra-strength isopropyl alcohol. "Go with 91% or higher alcohol concentration," Gordon suggests.

How to make hand sanitizer during the coronavirus outbreak

Watch out for DIY sanitizer recipes that use commercial vodka instead of rubbing alcohol, too. Tito's Vodka has taken to Twitter to let users know that the company's spirits don't contain a high enough alcohol content to rid your hands of germs and bacteria.

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