CDC recommends handwashing with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or, using alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol when soap and water are not available. These actions are part of everyday preventive actions individuals can take to slow the spread of respiratory diseases like COVID-19.
- When washing hands, you can use plain soap or antibacterial soap. Plain soap is as effective as antibacterial soap at removing germs.
- If soap and water are not readily available, you can use an FDA-approved alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol. You can tell if the sanitizer contains at least 60% alcohol by looking at the product label.
CDC does not encourage the production and use of homemade hand sanitizer products because of concerns over the correct use of the ingredients and the need to work under sterile conditions to make the product. Local industries that are looking into producing hand sanitizer to fill in for commercial shortages can refer to the World Health Organization guidance: https://www.who.int/gpsc/5may/Guide_to_Local_Production.pdf. Organizations should revert to the use of commercially produced, FDA-approved product once such supplies again become available.
- To be effective against killing some types of germs, hand sanitizers need to have a strength of at least 60% alcohol and be used when hands are not visibly dirty or greasy.
- Do not rely on “Do It Yourself” or “DIY” recipes based solely on essential oils or formulated without correct compounding practices.
- Do not use hand sanitizer to disinfect frequently touched surfaces and objects. See CDC’s information for cleaning and sanitizing your home.