I have ethanol , Reagent Grade 99.8% v/v

can i use this to make hand sanitizer ? is it safe for hand skin ?

I will be following this guideline from WHO for making the sanitizer << have a look at that link.

I am planning to dilute the Ethanol with water to get a 65% concentration .

Can i proceed with making the sanitizer ? Look at the Ethanol specs on the picture below

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  • It is a very good document published by the World Health Organization indeed how to produce hand sanitizers. The offer two recipes, one to disinfect viruses and one to disinfect bacteria: who.int/gpsc/5may/Guide_to_Local_Production.pdf Your suggestions to use 65% solution is not what WHO advices
    – iep
    Mar 20, 2020 at 20:32

2 Answers 2


All the alcohol based sanitizers are using ethanol as the main alcohol often with isopropylalcohol. The latter is more effective against bacteria and ethanol is better against virus

The effectiveness of alcohol as an anti-bacterial or anti-fungal disinfectant increase as the molecular weight increases. Therefore, Isopropyl alcohols, such as IPA, are more effective than ethanol alcohols, such as DE.

Denatured Ethanol is considered more effective as a virucidal disinfectant, as isopropanol is not effective against non-enveloped viruses.

Examples of non-enveloped viruses: Hepatitis A Rotavirus Adenovirus Examples of enveloped viruses: Influenza Ebola HIV Hepatitis B Rabies SAR virus

Non-enveloped viruses utilize capsid proteins to mediate binding to host cells, while enveloped viruses use viral proteins for this function. Enveloped viruses are surrounded by an outer lipid membrane, while non-enveloped viruses lack this membrane.

You should add glycerine as an emollient as alcohol and water alone are too harsh on the skin, again as per the WHO recipe you referenced.


  • 70% - 95% ethanol/propylalcohol to clean surfaces (diluted with water )

  • 60% - 95% ethanol/propylalcohol to clean hands ( diluted with glycerine, or aloe vera )


  • 2
    Propylene glycol is a good substitute for glycerine - the point is that the hands need to stay wetted long enough for the alcohol to take effect. Mar 17, 2020 at 22:08
  • I might be blind, but I didn't see where the article stated ethanol was more effective against viruses than isopropyl. Would you be so kind as to point that out to me? I have both 91% isopropyl and 97% etanol, but I have no commercial and sanitizer, so would be interested in trying this. Thanks! Mar 18, 2020 at 3:21
  • 2
    @anongoodnurse Sorry I can no longer find the reference so added another. Since covid-19 is caused by an enveloped virus, then you're good to go with both of those alcohols with an emollient. Mar 18, 2020 at 3:40
  • Thanks so much!!! I really appreciate it. :D Mar 18, 2020 at 14:01

Yes you can. You are safe if you use 65% ethanol mixed with 35% water or glycerine. That is what is known/sold as disinfectant hand sanitizer for viruses.


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