Magazine News Opinions Volume 69, Issue 8

Are Homemade Protectors From COVID-19 Really Effective?

by Katelyn To

Graphic by Jane Wilson

We’ve all seen the infamous frantic shoppers excessively stocking up on everything from toilet paper (slightly questionable) to hand sanitizer. While some people have an abundance of resources, others are left empty-handed. As a result, many people have gotten creative and crafted their own needed products, such as unfortunately scarce face masks and hand sanitizer. With so many people heading down the DIY route, the question is: are these homemade products still as effective as store-bought ones?

The answer is both yes and no. Homemade face masks, such as those made from cloth, a bandana, or a t-shirt, do help block larger particles. However, N95 respirators or surgical masks are still the most effective, but if you don’t have one already, they are reserved for medical workers. So if you are left with the option of wearing a cloth mask or nothing, definitely opt for the cloth mask. Something important to remember is that the mask does not protect you, the wearer, from the disease. It protects you from spreading it to others. If everyone going into public places wears a face mask, despite knowing if they have COVID-19 because people can be asymptomatic, it would dramatically decrease spread of the virus. 

On the other hand, homemade hand sanitizer is supposed to be just as effective as store-bought hand sanitizer–as long as you follow a few guidelines. The alcohol must make up at least 60% of the product. This means you should use rubbing alcohol with 99% alcohol volume and a two to one ratio of alcohol to aloe vera. It should be made in a clean area as well, with clean utensils and clean hands. Sticking to these rules should ensure an effective hand sanitizer. Just remember that hand sanitizer is not a substitute for washing hands. Hand washing with warm water and soap is always the better option, and hand sanitizer should only be used in case of emergency.