DIY: Do-It-Yourself or Damage and Injure Yourself? What works and what doesn’t in fight against COVID-19

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The battle against COVID-19 Rages on.

As Negros Occidental readies itself for an Enhanced Community Quarantine for two weeks, people have been preparing themselves for the worst. An enhanced community quarantine means, only one person in each household will be allowed to go out of the house to buy groceries and necessities every day.

With these new rules, it’s not unusual that people have been panicking.

Some people have been stockpiling on grocery items and disinfectants.  While this seems like a good precautionary and preparatory measure, some shoppers have been going a little too much that supermarkets limited the items they can procure, like only two alcohol bottles per customer, due to hoarding issues. Because of relatively low stocks, with manufacturers of alcohol and disinfectants prioritizing health facilities first, it’s not long before people are searching for alternatives. (READ: Province buys food ahead of enhanced community quarantine)

While proper hand washing and good general hygiene overall are still, if not the best, one of the best ways to combat the spread of COVID-19, there’s still a few extra precautions that can be used within the household to ensure a relatively greater way of protecting one’s self and the family against the disease. Wiping surfaces with most often touched by hands by disinfectants, doorknobs, cabinet handles, table surfaces, etc. is one of the few extra precautions people can do. With this in mind, people have been thinking of how to save up on their usage of alcohol, bleach and detergents.

Dangerous Chemistry

Recently there have been multiple circulating videos in social media and group chats (most of which have now been reported and deleted) about an alternative to rubbing alcohol by mixing a few parts of it with a few parts of bleach then inserting it into a full bottle of rum allegedly turning the entire bottle into a disinfectant — the video attracted netizens due to the fact that some may not have access or have a limited supply of rubbing alcohol and are looking for alternatives.

Unfortunately the mixture does not create a disinfectant. The liquor in the video, Tanduay Rum is 40% alcohol and 70% is needed to make a proper disinfectant. Mixing alcohol and bleach creates all sorts of toxic products, like chloroacetone, hydrochloric acid, and chloroform. Acute inhalation of these products cause nausea, vomiting, convulsions and even death.

Screengrab from viral video uploaded on Facebook of a man doing DIY disinfectant.
Screengrab from viral video uploaded on Facebook of a man doing DIY disinfectant.

Mixing household products and chemicals without knowledge of them can kill you.

You may die.

As a response, Tanduay Distillers, Inc. issued a statement, urging people not to use its product in DIY sanitizer solutions.

Tanduay advisory after DIY video started circulating.
Tanduay advisory after DIY video started circulating.

Disinfectant Alternatives

The World Health Organization recently released a downloadable PDF on how to make your own Hand rubs at home titled: Guide to Local Production: WHO-recommended Handrub Formulations.

You may read it Here: https://www.who.int/gpsc/5may/Guide_to_Local_Production.pdf

While it’s relatively a bit late to scrounge for equipment to make this hand rubs by WHO, it’s still a great read and a go to alternative in the future.

Before we make a shortlist on alternatives, here are some famous alternative cleaning materials that won’t work against the Virus:

Isopropyl Alcohol that is below or above 70%. Solutions that claim to only be 40% are superficial and are made as a hypoallergenic solution. Solutions more than 70 (as there are 90-99% solutions) are made for cleaning water sensitive surfaces such as computer parts – thus evaporate faster. The water in 70% alcohol solution makes the alcohol stay a bit longer and helps in flushing away the pathogens to disinfect the skin.

Other alternatives most commonly seen but will not work: Tea Tree Oils, Coconut Oils, Baking Soda, Vinegar, Soft Drinks.

Alternative Disinfectants include but are not limited to:

Household Bleach (zonrox)

As if this is not being done already, one to two tablespoons of bleach powder or liquid mixed with a two liters of water is great for cleaning surfaces and floors. CAUTION: Adding more tablespoons and less amount of water can irritate the skin.

Chlorine

One tablespoon of Chlorine powder or liquid can be mixed with 2 liters of water and can be used for cleaning surfaces and floors. CAUTION: One table spoon to 20 liters of water is the ratio to make a safe hand sanitizer.  It is thus not recommended to use chlorine as hand sanitizers if one will not be able to measure accurately as chlorine is a hazardous chemical and may do harm.

Lysol Sprays and Hydrogen Peroxide are also good disinfectants. While this is common knowledge let us not forget that all this alternative disinfectant’s roles only supplement what is truly essential in fighting COVID-19. It’s still the glorious 20 second handwashing. And in today’s landscape, one must delete “washing too much or too frequently” in their vocabulary.

Stay Clean, Stay Safe.

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