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Cheers to cleanliness! Liquor store helping people make homemade hand sanitizer

Experts say panic shopping has caused a major shortage
Posted at 3:29 PM, May 14, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-14 15:34:39-04

With shoppers stocking up on cleaning supplies, essential workers are saying hand sanitizer is becoming harder to get.

“You couldn’t find it anywhere and anytime it hits the store shelves, it’s just wiped out,” said an Uber driver who added that the hand sanitizer shortage is adding more stress to his life.

Now, an unlikely source is helping supply the demand

The Wine Dispensary, an upscale liquor store in Denver, is greeting customers at the door with a recipe to turn high-proof alcohol into homemade hand sanitizer.

“Four ounces of distilled water, 16 ounces of Everclear and that puts it up to just over 70% alcohol,” said owner Rob Mackenzie.

Mackenzie says he came up with the idea out of necessity and after hearing customers complain.

“Everybody that has come in, particularly three to four weeks ago, were saying the exact same thing it’s like, ‘we don’t have hand sanitizer. We don’t have hand wipes of any sort,’” he said.

Infectious disease specialists say this boozy hand sanitizer could help stop COVID-19 transmissions if you know what you’re working with.

“It makes sense because it is a high enough concentration of alcohol,” said Sheryl Zajdowicz, Ph.D., a biology professor at Metropolitan State University of Denver.

From possible skin irritation to a ratio not strong enough to kill the virus, Zajdowicz says there are challenges with making your own hand sanitizer.

“The problem is there are a lot of different alcohol that are available,” she said. “If you’re not buying 90% or full-strength alcohol, if you buy the 70%, you’re not going to have enough concentration.”

At the Wine Dispensary, one liter of Everclear will make two batches of hand sanitizer.

Costing $30 a bottle, it’s an expensive alternative to traditional hand sanitizer. But it’s a substitute Mackenzie says is well worth the price and something he’ll continue to sell until there’s no longer a need.

“We don’t feel like we have to push it anymore if it’s readily available,” he said. “but the problem is, it’s not readily available.”