(Apologies to all the Karens’ out there…)
Well, these here are crazy times! People going nuts over toilet paper and hoarding groceries ahead of an imminent lock down in Australia, indeed the world. It feels like we are a world away from the compassion and giving we displayed as a nation during the recent bushfire crisis.
So in an effort to be helpful, informative, and hopefully inject a bit of humour as well, I thought I’d provide some information on why handwashing and sanitizing is important, and how you can work around the lack thereof on our supermarket shelves. These insights come from littlebird’s alter ego ‘Lime Tyger’ who knows and cares about such things. So here goes…
The ‘Simples’ version:
Covid-19 or coronavirus outer walls are made up of lipids (like fats or oils) protecting the actual virus behind the lipid layer. Soap also contains lipids, and when you wash your hands really well you get all these lipids on your hands. So if you have Covid-19 on your hands the lipids in the virus wall start to break down, they are soluble in the lipids in your soap on your hands.
Breaking down the lipid layer with lipids in soap kills the virus. It’s that simple.
Making sure everyone has access to soap (liquid or bar) to wash their hands is also important. The more people killing the virus by washing their hands thoroughly after contact the less likely it is to spread. Proper washing is vital though – You need to ensure your hands are wet and fully lathered with soap, cleansing EVERY part of the hand down to the wrists, for at least twenty seconds. Look at this video of *WHO handwashing technique as a guide on how to wash properly.
If you don’t have immediate access to wash your hands, sanitizer is a good alternative. IF the alcohol content in commercial sanitizers is at least 60% it can effectively destroy the proteins in the virus. Less than 60% and it will not, and higher concentrations will likely cause irritation and dryness to your skin.
NOTE: alcohol based sanitizer doesn’t discriminate between good and bad germs…it kills them all. That’s not a good thing long term, so use wisely and sparingly!
So the million dollar question is…what do you do if the panic buying, stockpiling arses in the community have stripped the shelves of hand soaps, washes and sanitizers?
- Last time I looked (this morning) in a couple of my local supermarkets there were still bars of soap on the shelves…check first as this really is the quickest and best option. I know bar soap isn’t as popular as the liquid variety these days, it is however, just as effective.
- Dishwashing Liquid – it is more abrasive than soap, so efficient at killing the virus, BUT potentially damaging to your skin. Not recommended for people with sensitive or allergenic conditions, and for everyone else…short term use only and moisturise regularly. (You can also dilute the liquid with water, that might help)
- Shampoo and conditioner. Shampoo is not really effective as most shampoos are constructed with the aim to leave the lipids in hair as much as possible so as to not dry out hair follicles. It will clean your hands, but not necessarily destroy the virus. Conditioners are more likely to be effective as they are often loaded with lipids in order to – as the term suggests – condition your hair. For both of these again, no guarantees and probably a short term measure at best.
- Laundry liquid – couldn’t find any information on this at all, though based on some research findings that dishwashing liquid can be used as a substitute for laundry liquid, you probably could use it – again, treat it like dishwashing liquid…not at all for sensitive/allergenics, short term ONLY for everyone else!
- Hand Sanitizer – there is no substitute. Make it or buy it – those are the options. And no, do NOT soak your hands with vodka!! Firstly what a criminal fucking waste of vodka, and secondly, refer to the first statement!
Seriously though, vodka (or any white spirit) does not generally have a high enough alcohol content to make it effective as a sanitizer. Most commercial vodka is about 40% alcohol (80 percent proof) way below the 90-99% recommended range. So stop wasting good vodka by pouring it on your hands. Leave it on the bar shelf or make a vodka lime and soda or espresso martini instead and sanitize from the inside out. (Sensible drinking limits apply)
Make your own:
Making both bar and liquid soap can be quite involved, so unless you’re a soap making enthusiast, either of these quick solutions for liquid wash are effective:
|Leftover soap bars (total weight 120 gm) or an unused soap bar, grated|
4 cups cold water,
bring to the boil and add grated soap.
Leave for 15 minutes then stir again
Leave to cool completely (several hours)
Add essential oils (approximately 20 drops per cup of mixture)*
If you are happy with the consistency, it’s now ready to pour into containers/
For thicker soap, reheat and add more soap flakes. For thinner mixture,
reheat and add more water.
| 1/2 cup liquid castile soap|
1/2 cup distilled water
1 TB vitamin E oil(optional)
1 TB sweet almond, olive or jojoba oil (optional)
15 drops tea tree essential oil
5-10 drops lavender essential oil
|Mix all the ingredients together and shake well.|
At least 1 tbs of oil is recommended for moisturising properties and those
Jojoba is highly recommended as it mostly closely resembles the human
skin’s natural oils
Oil will separate from the castile soap base, so you will need to shake this
mixture before each use
|2/3 cup of isopropyl Alcohol (99%+) or ethanol|
1/3 cup Aloe Vera gel
8-10 drops of your favourite essential oil*.
Mix well, package and you are done.
1. The Alcohol MUST be 90-99% alcohol otherwise it won’t be effective.
2. It (alcohol) MUST constitute 60% or two-thirds of the total contents of the
sanitizer or likewise, it will not efficiently destroy the virus or sanitize hands.
3. Aloe is a vital ingredient as it is the emollient that offsets the harshness
of rubbing pure alcohol on your hands.
4. Aloe may separate from the alcohol, this is normal you just need to
shake the container before use.
|As no testing has been done on this, I am not guaranteeing it is a successful |
means of sanitizing your hands, however there is plenty of evidence that the
proportions above (with the required alcohol strength) do make for an
effective sanitizer within WHO guidelines.
|Research essential oils before you add them to either liquid hand soap |
Many essential oils have antibacterial qualities that whilst having no
impact on COVID-19, are still helpful in combatting germs generally.
Some oils have strong or adverse side effects and are not
Lavender and tea tree are universally considered safe, but do not
exceed recommended volumes
Do NOT use citrus based essential oils in hand sanitizer especially, as they can
cause photosensitivity and exposure to UV rays could result in burning or skin
Check online for suppliers of isopropyl alcohol, Aloe Vera gel, carrier and essential oils, Castile liquid soap
Confirm they are fit for purpose before purchasing
These recipes are provided for personal use only and not intended for sale. If you intend to sell, please research your obligations with regards to assurances and the information and packaging required.
Please DON’T go panic buying these ingredients now and creating a shortage in yet another area. A little goes along way with most of these recipes! These are unusual times for all of us, and really tough for some. Be kind and helpful to strangers around you…a smile and a kind word costs nothing but can transform someone’s day. And don’t pour vodka, gin, tequila or any other white spirit on your hands FFS. Google cocktail recipes instead and learn a popular (and practical) skill when you go into Iso*.
*Isolation (apparently a whole new slang is developing out of this pandemic)
Stay safe lovelies,
Lime Tyger xx
Click on links above (embedded) and below to learn more about information and sources for stuff in this post