Coronavirus latest: Does hand sanitiser go out of date?

People have been advised by governments and the World Health Organisation to wash their hands more frequently than usual. It’s also recommended you clean your hands for at least 20 seconds in order to remove any trace of coronavirus and any other microbes.

Does hand sanitiser go out of date?

Hand sanitiser and soap are both effective when washing your hands.

The former is particularly useful for people when out of the house.

Hand sanitiser is made using alcohol, which kills germs, bacteria and viruses.

But over time it can become less effective and eventually goes out of date.


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Once opened, the alcohol inside the hand sanitiser container begins to evaporate.

When the level falls below 60 percent alcohol, the gel will not be as effective at killing germs.

Experts say it usually takes roughly three years to reach full expiry.

Alex Berezow, microbiologist and Vice President of Scientific Communications at the American Council on Science and Health, told Insider: “Some alcohol is better than nothing.

“If the concentration goes below 60 percent alcohol, then it loses some effectiveness.”

And expired hand gels may still have some effectiveness, especially if the bottle has not been opened yet.

But if you are at home and have access to soap, the best course of action is to save the gel.

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That’s because soap is more effective at killing a virus.

Mr Berezow said: “It is a bad idea to use hand sanitizers in the home.

“People will use them instead of washing their hands, which is a much better way to get rid of a virus.”

Furthermore, sanitiser gel won’t be clean your hands properly if they are visibly dirty.

Rubbing alcohol is better used to disinfect surfaces at home.

This will limit the number of germs a person can pick up when touching surfaces.

It’s also possible to make homemade hand sanitiser, though Public Health England (PHE) has advised against it and recommended soap and water as an alternative instead.

Dr Nick Phin, deputy director at the National Infection Service, PHE, said: “Proper hand washing is the most effective method and this should be your first choice.”

How to make hand sanitiser at home

Professor Miryam Wahrman, a germ expert at William Paterson University, says its very simple to make your own version at home.

All you really need is a solution containing more than 60 percent alcohol – whether it’s rubbing alcohol or the drinkable variety.

This is because a hand sanitiser requires at least 60 percent alcohol content to kill most viruses.

Simply fill your container with about a third of vodka, then add about 10 drops each of tea tree essential oil and lavender essential oil and fill your bottle the rest of the way with aloe vera gel and shake.

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