Price gouging makes hand sanitizer expensive, how to make your own at home

Tess Rowland

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A collection of hand sanitizer, an item now very difficult to find on shelves. Ebay showed listings of popular cleaning products at unusually higher prices.

Tess Rowland

In the wake of the  COVID-19 outbreak, many have stocked up on sanitation supplies such as Purell, Lysol and Clorox wipes, leading to shortages of these products and price gouging online. These items are now hard to come by, shelves around the country are empty and items at grocery stores have been on backorder. 

In a time when social distancing is encouraged and fewer people are flocking the stores, the internet has become an even more essential resource for getting supplies you need, but some higher prices listed should be a concern for citizens. 

A four-pack of 4-ounce bottles of Purell hand sanitizer is listed on Ebay for up to $60. For reference, an 8-ounce bottle of Purell at Walgreens is regularly listed at $3.79. 

A four-pack of Lysol spray is now listed at $227.50 at BJ’s Wholesale. It’s regularly listed at $16.99. 

Ebay did release a statement on March 5 that it was aware of the price gouging happening on its site and would remove all listings for masks, hand sanitizers and disinfectant wipes. 

Amazon followed suit, and most items like hand sanitizer, masks and cleaning wipes, are listed as out-of-stock. 

Nancy Friedman, a registered nurse with 30 years of experience in South Florida said the vicious cycle of panic-buying tends to stem from fear and lack of knowledge. 

“It causes this herd panic. Once someone sees another person at the store stocking up, another person has the fear of missing out, and also runs to the store to stock up,” she said. 

Friedman said that hand sanitizer is a good supplement for keeping clean and staying healthy, and is most effective on hands that are not soiled. 

“It’s good if you don’t have soap and water, like many nurses who use it are quickly going from patient to patient, but soap and water is really the best thing to use,” she said. 

She also stressed the importance of using the right kind of hand sanitizer. 

“The CDC says for hand sanitizers to be effective it should be at least 60% alcohol or above because alcohol is what will kill the bacteria in viruses,” she said. 

On Amazon, the brand Wet Ones, is listed as an antibacterial wipe, and it advertises that it is effective in killing 99.9% of germs, but if you look closely, its alcohol content is not listed. 

Attorney General Jeff Landry encouraged Louisiana shoppers to be aware of price gouging and released a statement on his website. 

“If consumers suspect price gouging, they should report it to their local law enforcement agencies,” said Landry. “We do not want people or businesses to illegally take advantage of this crisis.” 

Ultimately, Friedman said that the best way to flatten the curve and prevent the contraction of COVID-19 is to self-isolate and wash your hands regardless of the cleaning products you have access to.

“In a way, it’s best to act like you already have the virus as a means of prevention. Self- isolate at home, practice social-distancing, and constantly wash your hands, that way you prevent yourself and others from getting coronavirus,” she said. 

 

To avoid becoming a victim of price-gouging, here is a recipe to make your own recipe of hand sanitizer at home: 

  • 1 cup of 91% isopropyl alcohol 
  • 1⁄2 cup of aloe vera gel 
  • 15 drops of tea tree oil (or another antibacterial essential oil) 
  1. Measure and pour 1 cup of alcohol into a bowl. The CDC recommends that your isopropyl alcohol has an alcohol concentration between 60–95%. While most may be inclined to use Vodka they may have around the house, be sure to check the alcohol content. Tito’s Vodka told CNN their vodka is 40% alcohol, which does not meet the CDC guidelines.
  1. Measure and pour a 1⁄2 cup of aloe vera gel into another bowl. This product is used to keep your hands smooth, as alcohol can have a very drying effect on your skin.
  1. Add 15 drops of essential oils. This is used to give a scent to your hand sanitizer. Tea tree oil is a naturally antibacterial product, but you can substitute another of your favorite scents if you prefer!
  1. Mix it all into one bowl. Mix together all the ingredients. You will notice the consistency won’t be as thick as store-bought hand sanitizer, but your homemade hand sanitizer is just as effective in killing germs. You can package the hand sanitizer in a spray bottle.