Knowing who to trust is the only way to make the internet work for you, but thanks to the very openness we love about online spaces, it can be hard to know what's real and what's nonsense. Well-intentioned people can and do easily share misinformation, and the consequences come with a multiplying effect. Some viral stories, however, can be easily debunked, and homemade hand sanitizer is pretty firmly one of them.
You may have tried to stock up on Purell and other substitutes for hand-washing to stave off COVID-19 in your life, but loads of stores both online and locally are reporting backorders, empty shelves, and exorbitant markups. Enter the DIY-er, eager to show the world how easy it is to virus-proof your life from home. You may have seen recipes calling for rubbing alcohol and aloe plants, and while it is true that hand sanitizer is pretty simple overall, there are some subtleties to its makeup that make homemade versions insufficient for killing viruses.
Emily Price at Lifehacker wrote up a debunking post explaining why you can't use vodka to make your own hand sanitizer (yes, that was a real thing going around Twitter, enough that one vodka brand had to issue its own statement declaiming the practice). Many of the ingredients offered up on these DIY recipes aren't medical-grade or are meant for consumption rather than cleaning. Not only that, but mass-manufactured sanitizers are adjusted to be gentle on your skin. It's probably best to rely on what's tried and true: washing your hands, sneezing and coughing into your elbow or shoulder, and keeping your hands away from your face.