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As more families stock up on supplies to prevent the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19), the demand for hand sanitizer—one of the most essential items of all—has absolutely skyrocketed, resulting in price hikes and product scarcity, not to mention major headaches for shoppers.
While the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) maintain that good old-fashioned hand-washing for at least 20 seconds is the most effective way to protect against COVID-19, using hand sanitizer containing at least 60% alcohol when there's no soap and water around can also be an effective way to eliminate germs.
Eager to skip the big in-store crowds but feeling overwhelmed because every retailer you search online seems sold out too? Here are the best places online where you can still buy hand sanitizer right now, plus key things to keep in mind as you look for other options.
Where to buy hand sanitizer
Shopping for hand sanitizer is a serious hassle right now, but fortunately, there are a few places where you can still buy sanitizer, including:
- Get the Purell Instant Hand Sanitizer Jelly Wrap at Office Depot for $1.59 (in-store purchase only)
- Get the Purell Instant Hand Sanitizer Foam, 8 Pack at Office Depot for $168.39
- Get the Welly First Aid Hand Sanitizer Replenishment Pack at Target for $3.99
- Get the Purell Advanced Hand Sanitizer Refreshing Gel Pump Bottle at Target for $5.49
- Get the Purell Naturals Hand Sanitizer at Target for $1.99
While we'll be updating this list daily, keep in mind that supplies are dwindling, so you may want to grab what you can before a product sells out.
Does hand sanitizer expire?
Have an old bottle of hand sanitizer that's been tucked away in you purse or backpack for a while? With supplies selling out so fast everywhere, you might be tempted to just use the old one you already have. However, it's important to give the label on that bottle a good once-over before you do. The reason? That hand sanitizer might be expired.
While hand sanitizer and wipes seem like one of those things that last forever, that's not the case at all. Because the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulates them, hand sanitizers are subject to the same requirements as other FDA-regulated products, meaning they do come with expiration dates. Also, the main ingredient in most over-the-counter options is ethyl alcohol, which may lose its efficiency over time, making it less helpful against germs.
Most hand sanitizers expire within a year to three years, and while they're still probably safe to use, you may want to consider grabbing a fresh bottle or two (or the ingredients to make your own), just to be on the safe side.
How to make your own hand sanitizer
If you can't get your hands on any hand sanitizer right now, don't panic—you could always make your own. As bottles of Purell and GermX become harder to track down, public health experts are recommending the do-it-yourself approach.
The most important ingredients to have on hand, reports Kelly Tyko, are isopropyl alcohol (99% rubbing alcohol) and aloe vera gel, although ethanol alcohol could be used for at-home mixtures as well. No matter which route you go, just remember the CDC's recommendations for hand sanitizer—it needs to contain at least 60% alcohol—and be mindful of that as you're preparing homemade sanitizers.
Where to get the ingredients
If you're shopping for all the ingredients that you need to make your own sanitizer—plus containers to hold it in after—you can still find a lot of products online, including:
Isopropyl Alcohol (99% rubbing alcohol)
- Get the CVS Health 91% Isopropyl Alcohol, 32 OZ at CVS for $2.59 (in-stores only)
- Get the Up&Up Isopropyl Alcohol 91% Antiseptic at Target for $2.59 (in-stores only)
Aloe Vera Gel
- Get the iQ Natural Organic Aloe Vera Gel at Walmart for $19.99
- Get the Soothing Moisture Aloe Vera at Walmart for $15.99
- Get the OGGI Round Glass 12 oz. Soap Dispenser at Bed, Bath and Beyond for $6.99-$12.99
- Get the Mainstays Soft Touch Black Lotion Pump at Walmart for $5.97
In addition to grabbing the ingredients listed above, you may want to include essential oils, like tea tree oil, in your homemade batch.
"There is evidence that cinnamon, thyme, and tea tree oil, while they are not disinfecting agents that will be useful against coronavirus, have their own anti-bacterial properties that can help to keep your hands clean," says our senior scientist Julia MacDougall.
Prices were accurate at the time this article was published but may change over time.