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Ask the Lab Scientist – COVID-19: Question re Disinfectants

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As shortages occur, what household items are effective? Bleach, vinegar, rubbing alcohol?


Here is the answer from Dr. Leclair:

When you are home, soap and water will do quite nicely for you and for anything that is washable or at least can withstand soap and water.

For any of things that do not do well with water (example, computer keyboards or phone, rubbing alcohol (> 70%) and bleach (⅓ cup bleach per 1 gallon of water or 4 teaspoons bleach per 1 quart of water) will do, but not vinegar or even 80 proof vodka.

If you plan on taking a liquid with you, you can make a functional hand sanitizer with alcohol and aloe reva. Here is one version.  The aloe vera will keep your skin from getting too dry and the oil will make it less likely for you to be accused of drinking!

  • 3/4 cup of isopropyl or rubbing alcohol (99 percent)
  • 1/4 cup of aloe vera gel (to help keep your hands smooth and to counteract the harshness of alcohol)
  • 10 drops of essential oil, such as lavender oil, or you can use lemon juice instead


  • Pour all ingredients into a bowl, ideally one with a pouring spout like a glass measuring container.
  • Mix with a spoon and then beat with a whisk to turn the sanitizer into a gel.
  • Pour the ingredients into an empty bottle for easy use, and label it “hand sanitizer.”

Susan Leclair

CLL Society - COVID-19

When appropriate, the CLL Society will be posting updates and background information on the present Coronavirus pandemic focusing on reliable primary sources of information and avoiding most of the news that is not directly from reliable medical experts or government and world health agencies.