Do Not Make Your Own Sanitizer

March 19, 2020 - Genevieve Cottrell

Genevieve Cottrell, the MSU Chemical Safety Officer, does not recommend units and departments make their own hand sanitizer at this time. 

Rationale is as follows:

  1. The chemicals used to make hand sanitizer are flammable, corrosive, oxidizing and irritants per their Safety Data Sheets 
  2. MSU employees who mix or manipulate chemicals are required to take online safety training before mixing chemicals
  3. Manipulation of flammable chemicals requires adequate grounding and bonding to inhibit static charge and prevent fires
  4. Chemical mixing is to take place in a fume hood, with an eyewash and safety shower present
  5. Appropriate personal protective equipment is required, which should include chemical splash goggles and a flame-resistant lab coat
  6. Bulk flammable chemicals must be stored in a flammable cabinet per NFPA fire code

If any unit or department is considering this process, they must contact EHS first (5-0153) and develop a written and approved SOP for their process before beginning this work.

Please encourage units to stop buying chemicals to make bulk hand sanitizers. Without a place to safely mix or store these products, the risk of unintended fires is of greater concern.

Additional information for existing laboratories and/or those who have up-to-date safety training and adequate chemical facilities/storage:

The CDC has not published or recommended any hand sanitizer recipe they would consider a reliable substitute for hand washing.

According to the World Health Organization, only pharmacopeial quality reagents should be used if attempting to make hand sanitizer (e.g. The International Pharmacopoeia) and not technical/reagent grade chemicals.

Furthermore, hand washing is proven more effective than hand sanitizers; MSU does not have a shortage of hand soap.

I encourage you to spend your time instead winding down operations in your laboratories, practicing social distancing, good handwashing and showing kindness to your fellow humans.