Health and Fitness

6 Alternative Disinfectants to Rubbing Alcohol

No, you can't use swimming pool water just because it has chlorine.
IMAGE WIKIMEDIA COMMONS
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“My swimming pool has chlorine. Can I use swimming pool water as disinfectant?”

These are just some of the desperate questions people are asking as grocery shelves run out of rubbing alcohol. 

The danger in these times lies in people turning to unproven and unsafe measures like using swimming pool water in their attempt to use alternative disinfectants.

The following are safe alternatives when alcohol runs out.  

1| Soap and Water

Going back to basics is sometimes the best solution to a problem. Soap and water remain the most effective way to disinfect your skin of COVID-19.

2| Bleach

Household bleach is a great disinfectant. It is also highly concentrated. Use it as a disinfectant on surfaces, floors, doorknobs, bathrooms, and more. The Department of Health has recommended using bleach as a disinfectant for homes.

You may use Zonrox for this. Simply mix two tablespoons of Zonrox per liter of water and use this for wiping surfaces.

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3| Chlorine

To disinfect surfaces, mix one tablespoon of chlorine powder with two liters of water. To disinfect your hands, mix one tablespoon of chlorine powder with 20 liters of water. 

4| Lysol Spray

Next to isopropyl alcohol, people turn to Lysol for sanitizing purposes. In this photo, Barangay Alabang chair Tin-Tin Abas sprays Lyson Disinfectant on a footbridge on March 11. 

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5| UV Light Sanitizer

The good thing about the UV light sanitizer is that you only need to recharge it. The downside is that it takes some time for it to kill germs, viruses, and bacteria on surfaces such as paper bills, eyeglasses, and your smartphone.

“Sterilization is more complete the longer the radiation. It takes time—a few minutes or up to 30 depending on the UV source and the level of contamination,” said Jason Chan, an assistant professor in science education at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology.

Do not use this on your skin because it will damage your cells as much as it kills bacteria and viruses.

6| Hydrogen Peroxide

Hydrogen peroxide is effective against a wide spectrum of bacteria, fungi, viruses, and spores. It is widely available and is considered a good antiseptic with disinfectant properties. It is typically used for cleansing wounds to prevent the growth of bacteria or infection. You may use the 20-volume hydrogen peroxide available at groceries and pharmacies.

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Do not use the following ‘sanitizers’

99 Percent Isopropyl Alcohol: It is less effective than using 70 percent isopropyl alcohol. You may read this article on why it is so. 

Tea Tree Oil: This product may have antiseptic properties, but it is not potent enough to kill viruses such as the COVID-19.

Coconut Oil: Just like tea tree oil, avoid using coconut oil as your disinfectant on skin.

Baking Soda: This does not kill germs, viruses, and bacteria, but it is a good traditional cleaner for getting rid of surface dirt.

Vinegar: Many homes still use vinegar to disinfect kitchen surfaces. Do not use this as sanitizer or disinfectant against viruses because it has no effect on these.

Swimming pool water: You might be thinking of jumping in your pool to sanitize your body, but it will take a lot of time before chlorine in a pool can kill germs and viruses in the water.

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Mario Alvaro Limos
Features Editor, Esquire Philippines
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