Is It Safe to Use Vodka as Hand Sanitizer?

The short answer from an infectious disease specialist
Using vodka to wash hands

Q: I’ve heard that using alcohol, like vodka, to kill germs is the same as using hand sanitizer, is that true?  

A: There are a lot of different recipes out there where people have used alcohol to make their own homemade hand sanitizer, especially when it’s in short supply during the coronavirus pandemic. Plus, some distilleries are actually providing their alcohol for the makers of hand sanitizer because of the high demand.

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So while this can be true, you have to understand that for hand sanitizer to be truly effective, it needs to be at least 70% alcohol by volume, in that particular construct. Just pouring alcohol onto your hands is not necessarily any good.

There are vodkas out there that go up to 95% alcohol, which would be effective, but most of the vodka that you’ll see is only 20 or 30%, which won’t disinfect.

Pediatric infectious disease specialist Frank Esper, MD.

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