Pandemic Preparedness is one of the simpler types of prepping - mostly because it relies heavily on you already being prepped with other things like food storage, water storage, etc. A major component of Pandemic Prepping is preparation for quarantine. Sanitation is a major part of Pandemic and quarantine preparedness. While sanitzation is always important, during quarantine, sanitization will be extremely important in order to keep everyone healthy. In this post we’re going to talk about killing germs and how to do it safely with household products.
Why do it with household products? There are a couple answers to this. First, thriftiness kind of goes with prepping - or maybe it’s more like stretching our dollars since we spend SO MANY of them on preps! By buying large quantities of the base products for sanitization we’re also getting the base products for several other important preps - namely medical. If we get large quantities of the base stuff, we can put off determining their use based on our needs. We can also save money this way - buying bulk amounts of hand sanitizer is more expensive than buying bulk amounts of the ingredients for it! For some there is also a question of whether harsh additives have been added to their sanitizer that they do not want. By making it ourselves, we can be sure of what is going into it. Besides, prepping is all about self-reliance, right?!
You can kill most any germs, without leaving a dangerous residue, with a binary spray. White Vinegar and 3% Hydrogen Peroxide both kill germs. Simply fill one spray bottle with white vinegar and another with hydrogen peroxide. Spray whatever you need sanitized with one, then with the other. Individually these two kill large numbers of germs, combined they function as well as or better than commercial sanitizing spray.
NEVER NEVER mix them both into the same bottle though - this will create Peracetic Acid - which is useless to clean with, is corrosive, and can hurt you!
You could also fill a third bottle with bleach and zap something with all 3 of them if you wanted to be REALLY sure you had killed everything possible. But the bleach will discolor things and is potentially harmful if ingested.
So, for sanitizer spray store:
- White Vinegar
- 3% Hydrogen Peroxide
- Unscented Bleach (if desired)
Hand Sanitizing Gel
This has been an interesting experiment and learning experience. I set out a couple days ago to figure out how to make hand sanitizer at home. With an immune fragile child in our home, we sanitize a LOT! After doing copious amounts of research and extended experimentation last night, I believe I have found a reliable and effective way to make hand sanitizer at home. First, some background:
To be effective, hand sanitizers MUST contain a minimum of 60% alcohol by concentration. Alcohol kills germs by dessication, meaning that it dries them out through rapid evaporation. A lower concentration of alcohol results in not having enough alcohol to rapidly evaporate and dry out the microbes on your hands. There are many recipes on the internet that result in an over-dilluted mixture which will prove to be very ineffective at killing germs. Here are two really good articles to read on this: One from the New York Times and one from the CDC.
The recipe and method we have come up with for Do-It-Yourself home-made hand sanitizing gel is as follows:
- 5 cups 91% Isopropyl Alcohol
- 2 cups 100% pure Aloe Gel
Notice that the ingredients for this are also useful for lots of other things?
This results in an alcohol concentration of roughly 63% (being more precise requires using tenths of a cup in measurement). You can add essential oils as desired for scent. There are some essential oils that add germ killing ability such as tea tree oil but I have no idea what the diluted effectiveness would be or what quantity you would need them in.
Making Hand Sanitizer Gel at Home
Start by measuring out your Aloe into a mixing bowl.
Add in your alcohol
Mix at high speed - we found it works best to have a cute Cancer Chic run the mixer for you
Mix for several minutes, the solution will begin to gel
The aeration of the mixture is extremely important to getting the consistency correct. You should she bubbles all throughout the mixture.
The end mixture is thicker than water, but not extremely thick.
Once you’ve gotten the mixture to gel and achieve a constant consistency, you can pour it into containers for storage and use.
So with a potential pandemic from the swine flu and the resulting potential quarantine, with the need to have sanitizer in your EDC, BOB and 72 Hour kits, make sure you have plenty of these base components stored so you can use them as needed! I suggest storing the base components and using sanitization as a great way to rotate these items. Peroxide, bleach and alcohol all have couple year shelf lives, using them as regular household cleaners is a great way to keep them fresh! (Look for our upcoming post on lots more uses for vinegar and peroxide!)