Purell Panic: Hand Sanitizer Shortage Prompts Many To Make Their Own

NEW YORK (WCBS 880) — The novel coronavirus outbreak has sparked "Purell Panic" with customers clearing hand sanitizer from store shelves.  

At Hudson Square Pharmacy in Lower Manhattan, owner Allen Solomon said he sold out of hand sanitizer and isn't expecting to restock anytime soon.

So, he has created a "make your own" hand sanitizer section complete with a recipe his customers can follow. It calls for combining roughly four parts of aloe vera gel with one part isopropyl alcohol, either 70 percent or 90 percent, and then shake well. Strong vodka of at least 151 proof can be used in place of rubbing alcohol. 

But as more people resort to making their own, those supplies are also running low.

"We sold out of all the aloe vera gel yesterday, we have more coming today," Solomon said.

The pharmacy is still well stocked with soap, which health experts say is a better choice than the alcohol-based antiseptics.

According to the CDC, alcohol-based hand sanitizers can quickly reduce the number of microbes on hands in some situations, but don't eliminate all types of germs.

"But if soap and water are not available, using a hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol can help you avoid getting sick and spreading germs to others," the CDC notes.

The CDC encourages people to wash their hands often and thoroughly to prevent the spread of germs.

With sales of hand sanitizers skyrocketing in recent weeks, some sellers are limiting the number of containers customers can purchase per visit while others have jacked up their prices in stores and online.

More is on the way, with Purell saying it is pumping up production to keep up with the demand.