NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — If you’ve been looking for hand sanitizer, you’re not alone.

Since the first coronavirus case was confirmed in New York City, bottles have been flying off store shelves.

So on Tuesday CBS2’s Nick Caloway set out on a mission to find out how to make his own.

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At Pasteur Pharmacy in Midtown, hand sanitizer has been the hottest seller over the last few days.

“Cases and cases and cases. We can’t keep enough on the shelf,” pharmacist Leon Tarasenko said.


The pharmacy got a shipment on Monday. It was gone in 45 minutes. For many customers, it’s the only thing on their list.

“My wife sent me on a mission for hand sanitizer. She wanted Purell. They didn’t have any,” said David Goldberg of the Bronx.

“Well, I just want to re-stock, because I do have some at home, and I don’t want to be out,” added Pat Mendoza of Manhattan.

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It’s not just at the pharmacy. At a CVS down the street, the Purell shelves were also empty. And some retail websites are also either sold out or selling germ-killers with huge mark-ups.

But there is another way to get by until the shelves are re-stocked.

Tarasenko said it’s easier than you think to make your own hand sanitizer.

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There are two main ingredients, both easily found at most drug stores: two-thirds of a cup of rubbing alcohol, and one-third cup of aloe vera gel. A few drops of essential oils are also optional.

“I suggest you do it little by little — put a little aloe vera gel, a little alcohol,” Tarasenko said.

He said to make sure to mix well. The end result needs to have at least 60% alcohol to be effective. You can put it in a travel container and bring it to work or school, and, he said, it’s a good substitute until the real stuff is re-stocked.

“If you want to use the Purell, it’s fine, if you can find it. But in the interim, in between, if you don’t have your Purell, you can do this. It’s not a problem,” Tarasenko said.

Hand sanitizer is still the second-best way to keep your hands germ-free. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends, when possible, washing your hands with old fashioned soap and water.

Just like store-bought sanitizer, the homemade stuff should be kept out of the reach of young children.

Comments (4)
  1. Stuart Basem says:

    All the older & realistic war movies as well as so many cop & detective stories show whisky being used as first aid when nothing else available.

  2. Ima Pharmacist says:

    There is no isopropyl alcohol to be found! Pharmacies are not getting restocked, either. There is some on the internet, but are either restricted sale to Medical or Dental offices (no argument there, understandable) or to Spas and personal service industry (they should not be conducting business right now).

  3. JuanV says:

    The main problem is where to get rubbing alcohol???

  4. DIane Schips says:

    Please be more careful with your research! Sanitizer needs to be 60% alcohol. Most rubbing alcohol is 70% alcohol. A product that is made from 2/3 of a product that is 70% alcohol, the resulting product would be only 46.2% alcohol. You do state the final product need to be 60% alcohol, but you don’t make it clear how to do that.

    Use a product that’s 90% or so alcohol. Some isopropyl alcohols are that high. Everclar is that high.

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