Brief Report: DIY COVID-19 Disinfectant Wipes, Spray and Gel

*DIY = Do-It-Yourself

“What would life be if we had no courage to attempt anything?” Vincent Van Gogh

“The only man who never makes mistakes is the man who never does anything.” Theodore Roosevelt

Introduction: A novel coronavirus, originally named 2019-nCoV, began circulating around the world in late 2019. It was later renamed to severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2). The resulting disease caused by SARS-CoV-2 was designated coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). This virus was new to humans, and the widespread morbidity and mortality has affected the entire world.

Scientists, clinicians, and many other workers/researchers in the health fields have been studying SARS-Cov-2 in every conceivable way. We have been fortunate to contribute two publications to the rapidly expanding PubMed listing of articles on COVID-19/SARS-Cov-2. The first paper dealt with vitamin D, Parkinson’s, and COVID-19 [Click here: full citation at the bottom of this post] and the second paper reviewed exercise, Parkinson’s, and COVID-19 [Click here: full citation at the bottom of this post]. However, the current post deals with a different aspect of the pandemic, specifically, DIY or do-it-yourself reagents to combat COVID-19.

“If you’re waiting until you feel talented enough to make it, you’ll never make it.” Criss Jam

Overview: In the midst of the spiking next wave of COVID-19, we are experiencing shortages of cleaning/disinfecting reagents in the USA. In fact, many stores are greatly reduced in stock and are limiting how much each shopper can purchase. Some stores are totally out of stock until next year sometime. Over the past 8 months, we have experienced numerous shortages of anti-microbial material (wipes, sprays, gels and lotions). During this time, I purchased material but when times got tight and stocks were unavailable, I turned to DIY. Below are the various recipes and reagents that I have used over the past 6 months. Please see DISCLAIMER at the end of the post.

Valuable resources that have guided the preparation of these products, CDC and WHO Guidelines: click here and click here

“Just because it’s a trend should we do it?” Bert McCoy

How to Make DIY COVID-19 Disinfectant Wipes, Spray and Gel: The WHO recommends using either isopropyl alcohol or ethyl alcohol (ethanol) at a minimum of 60% final concentration. You will see many commercial products between 60 and 80% using either isopropyl alcohol or ethyl alcohol (ethanol). I have used isopropyl alcohol because it appeared easier to obtain in small amounts commercially compared to ethanol ( but see point #2 below in points to consider).

Points to consider:
#1- The flash point of ethyl alcohol is 13 oC (55 oF), and mixtures of ethyl alcohol may ignite below average room temperatures. The flash point of isopropyl alcohol is 11.7 oC (53 oF), and like ethanol, mixtures of isopropyl alcohol may ignite below average room temperatures. Why this warning? Many DIY recipes call for powerful high-speed blenders, which might heat up the solution above these flash points. While there is little evidence for fires while making these DIY solutions, please be careful using blenders because an alcohol-based flame is not very obvious.

#2- Use the highest available quality ethanol or isopropyl alcohol. If you decide to use ethanol, be aware of what chemical is used to remove the final 5-10% of water, etc., especially methanol and benzene are quite harmful. The CDC and the WHO endorse ethanol at 80% due to its rapid antiviral action compared to the same concentration of isopropyl alcohol; therefore, I will be switching to ethanol in the near future when I find a suitable source of ethyl alcohol (and I will update this blog post).

Sanitizer Wipes with 75% isopropyl alcohol and 0.125% hydrogen peroxide (all sources are given at the end of this section):

Supplies/Reagents:

  • Huggies (natural care baby) wipes [(56 wipes/package) Note:(i) these have less water than other wipes; (ii) many other DIY sites use paper towels but baby wipes just seemed to be far superior and much more convenient];
  • Isopropyl alcohol (99.5%);
  • Distilled water (DO NOT USE tap water);
  • Hydrogen peroxide (3%).

Instructions:

  • Open container, it is simpler to just use the container these wipes are stored in, self-sealing and very convenient.
  • Mix together (mix together using either a bowl and a whisk or a beaker on the stirring plate adding reagents measured with graduated cylinders) to give a final volume of 1-cup (US): 179 mL isopropyl alcohol (99.5%), 48 mL of distilled water, and 10 mL hydrogen peroxide (3% vol/vol) = 237 mL (1-cup);
  • Pour solution into baby wipes container, close the lid and they will be ready to use in 2-3 days (hydrogen peroxide will inactivate any bacterial spores or other toxins within the reagents/package).

Comments: These wipes are very easy to make and they work well on countertops and other physical areas of your house, car, and other places. if you need fragrance, you can always add a few drops of some essential oil (add during mixing before adding everything to wipes container). The wipes remain wet if the container stays closed.

Hand Sanitizer Spray with 75% isopropyl alcohol, 4% glycerol, and 0.12% hydrogen peroxide:

Supplies/Reagents:

  • Two amber 4 fluid ounce (US) spray bottles [which means you can add 118 mL in each bottle];
  • Isopropyl alcohol (99.5%);
  • Distilled water (DO NOT USE tap water);
  • Glycerol (glycerin);
  • Hydrogen peroxide (3%).

Instructions:

  • Mix together (as described above) to give a final volume of 245 mL: 185 mL isopropyl alcohol (99.5%), 40 mL of distilled water, 10 mL glycerol, and 10 mL hydrogen peroxide (3% vol/vol).
  • Pour into container, close and ready to use in 2-3 days (hydrogen peroxide is being used to inactivate any bacterial spores or other toxins within the solution/package).

Comments: Making a hand sanitizer spray solution is very easy. If needed, one can easily add a fragrance by using a few drops of an essential oil. Glycerol (glycerin) is used as an emollient to keep your skin from drying out and getting dermatitis when exposed to high concentrations of alcohol. I just read that the WHO recommends 1.45% glycerol, which is lower than what I use. However, this is easy to correct in future formulations. There is some speculation that the glycerol may interfere with the antimicrobial effect of alcohol but that’s not fully substantiated. Additionally, other DIY recipes may substitute aloe vera in place of glycerin.

Hand Sanitizer Gel Solution with 65% isopropyl alcohol, 0.7% glycerol, and 0.3% hydrogen peroxide:

Supplies/Reagents:

  • 1 clear or blue 8/8.5 fluid ounce (US) bottle [ which allows for up to 237 mL in bottle];
  • Isopropyl alcohol (99.5%);
  • Distilled water (DO NOT USE tap water);
  • Glycerol (glycerin) (99%);
  • Hydrogen peroxide (3%);
  • Carbomer 940/980;
  • Triethanolamine (99%).

Instructions:

  •  Three-part mixing scheme to prepare a gel-forming solution, final volume = 200 mL. Part 1, add 0.6 gm Carbomer 940/980 (0.3% wt/vol) through a fine grate mesh over several minutes to a stirring solution of water (59 mL), hydrogen peroxide (8 mL), and glycerol (1.5 mL). After adding the Carbomer 940/980 to this aqueous mixture, let it stir for at least 15-20 min. Hopefully, this will give a cloudy-mixture but a somewhat particulate-free solution; if not, keep stirring.
  • Part 2, Slowly add over 5-15 min, 131 mL isoproyl alcohol (99.5%) to the Carbomer-water-glycerol-hydrogen peroxide mixture. As you dilute out the mixture with alcohol, the solution may clear somewhat or it may stay opaque. Let it stir until the residual flakes of Carbomer have dissolved. The pH should be between five and six, and never exceed a pH of eight.
  • Part 3, at this point, you are ready to add triethanolamine (99%) (to raise the pH slightly); start by adding 0.5 mL (of the calculated 1 mL final volume). A gel will form immediately and the solution may also clarify, keep stirring it for a few minutes. You started with 200 mL of solution, formation of the gel has reduced the final volume. Recheck the pH to make sure it’s below pH 8.
  • Pour into container, close and ready to use in 2-3 days (hydrogen peroxide will inactivate any bacterial spores or other toxins within the solution/package).
  • For further details about the polymerization reaction and DIY using a gel with the Carbomer 940/980-triethanolamine polymer system, please refer to the guidelines as detailed here.

Comments: I have been trying for several months to make a gel with no success. Then I discovered the Carbomer 940/980-triethanolamine polymer system, which gave immediate and some positive results. If the Carbomer 940/980 does not dissolve sufficiently because you added it too fast, did not put it through the wire mesh properly, or you did not allow enough time for it to dissolve; you will end up with a ‘grainy’ but still functional gel. The % alcohol used in the gel will interfere with polymerization, such that I used 65% isopropyl alcohol with success and the current amounts of Carbomer 940/980 and triethanolamine; however, going to 75-80% isopropyl alcohol (or ethanol) would require either another gelling agent or a different amount of Carbomer 940/980-triethanolamine (i.e., further experimentation). Using the same conditions at a higher isopropyl alcohol amount (80%) led to a grainy and less gel-like solution. If you must have a gel it can be done. I would definitely recommend the Carbomer 940/980-triethanolamine polymer system. Practice and more practice makes perfect, well, as perfect as achieving a gel that is clear and without a grainy feeling. It can be done! However, the Hand Sanitizer spray is so easy to prepare.

Examples of Frank’s DIY Sanitizer WIpes and Sanitizer Hand Spray (upper panel) and Hand Sanitizer Gel.

“What if you did everyday what you wished you would have?” Julieanne O’Connor

Bottles, supplies, etc. (obtained from Amazon.com)           shortened URL

8oz Plastic Cobalt Blue Bottles (6 Pack) BPA-Free Squeeze Containers with Disc Cap, Labels Included  https://amzn.to/2IRsDj3
Cyclemore 3 Pack 250ml (8.5oz) Transparent Plastic Refillable Squeeze Bottles with Black Disc Top Cap, Plastic Containers for Shampoo, Body Wash, Lotions(1pcs Brush and 6pcs Labels Included)  https://amzn.to/2IV8NDx
3.4oz Spray Bottle-5 Pack, Refillable Small Spray Bottles, Empty Spray Bottles Suitable for Cleaning Solutions, Homemade Cleaners, Plants- BPA free, Plastic Spray Bottle  https://amzn.to/3fimiJL
Norpro Plastic Funnel, Set of 3, Set of Three, White  https://amzn.to/3pLuPto
Youngever 10 Pack Empty Amber Glass Spray Bottles, 4 Ounce Refillable Container for Essential Oils, Cleaning Products, or Aromatherapy  https://amzn.to/35NyH57
Glass Graduated Measuring Cylinders Set – 5ml/10ml/25ml/50ml/100ml, moveland Premium Borosilicate Cylinders Kit with 3 Pipettes + 2 Clear Brushes + 1 Stirring Rod  https://amzn.to/3pLxIue
Glass Beaker Set of 5 Borosilicate Thick Low Form – 50ml, 100ml, 250ml, 500ml, 1000ml  https://amzn.to/35QyjTu
INTLLAB Magnetic Stirrer with 7PCS stir bar Set and stir bar Retriever  https://amzn.to/3lQwxaE
Universal pH Test Paper Strips pH Test Strips Roll, pH Measure Full Range 0-14,16.4 ft/Roll (2 Rolls)https://amzn.to/3kRo2L5
Huggies Natural Care Sensitive Baby Wipes, Unscented, 1 Flip-Top Pack (56 Wipes Total)https://amzn.to/3nNAmOr

Reagents (from Amazon.com, local stores, sanesanitizer.com)   shortened URL

Isopropyl Alcohol 99.5% (One Liter, 33.8 Oz, greater than one US Quart) 4 X 1 Liter Casehttps://amzn.to/2J29YAY
NOW Solutions, Vegetable Glycerin, 100% Pure, Versatile Skin Care, Softening and Moisturizing, 16-Ouncehttps://amzn.to/3nGsLkDhttps://amzn.to/3nGsLkD
Hydrogen peroxide (3%)Local pharmacy
Carbomer 940/980https://bit.ly/3kSGy5R
Triethanolamine 99% (TEA)https://bit.ly/2HqBY10
 Distilled waterLocal grocery store 

Complete citation to the two papers described above:

Hall, Mary-Frances E., and Frank C. Church. “Exercise for Older Adults Improves the Quality of Life in Parkinson’s Disease and Potentially Enhances the Immune Response to COVID-19.” Brain Sciences 10.9 (2020): 612. Open access free download: https://www.mdpi.com/2076-3425/10/9/612

Hribar, Casey A., Peter H. Cobbold, and Frank C. Church. “Potential Role of Vitamin D in the Elderly to Resist COVID-19 and to Slow Progression of Parkinson’s Disease.” Brain Sciences 10.5 (2020): 284. Open access free download: https://www.mdpi.com/2076-3425/1You0/5/284

DISCLAIMER: Like all posts related to DIY products, reputable commercial products have been tested for their anti-SARS-Cov-2 action and are preferable to any DIY product described here or elsewhere. Furthermore, we are neither responsible for any adverse reaction from these products nor if they fail to work. I use these products (especially the hand sanitizer spray and sanitizer wipes) back-and-forth with authentic commercial products everyday, I willingly accept the risk.

“There’s scientific evidence for the satisfizer over the maximizer. Those who just get it done will generally be happier with the outcome and will be able to be more effective than those who try to maximize every decision and they hold off on it until they have the maximal amount of information. They are less happy with the outcome, whatever decision they do end up making, and that decision is only marginally optimal in most cases, and sometimes is even worse. So get into the habit of being decisive. It is going to make you more effective an d happier.”David Tian Ph.D

Cover photo Image by pladicon2012acacias from Pixabay

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