Coronavirus Questions Answered: Can Hydrogen Peroxide Sanitize Hands?

The concentration of typical drugstore hydrogen peroxide is 3 percent. [Jesse Franks / Shutterstock]
The concentration of typical drugstore hydrogen peroxide is 3 percent. [Jesse Franks / Shutterstock]

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Robert asks: Can hydrogen peroxide straight from the bottle be used as a hand sanitizer?

MetroHealth’s Dr. Amy Ray said no, hydrogen peroxide from the bottle should not be used as a hand sanitizer.

“The concentration we would use and what’s available at your local grocery store and pharmacy is not intended for disinfection,” she said. “It is intended for antisepsis, which is essentially taking care of a contaminated wound.”

University Hospitals’ dermatologist Dr. Mara Grace Beveridge said the concentration of typical drugstore hydrogen peroxide is 3 percent, and you would need to leave it on for 6-8 minutes to have antiviral activity, which could cause irritation, or, in severe cases, burning and bleaching of skin.

It is possible to make a hand sanitizer out of hydrogen peroxide, but she says that’s not something you can readily make at home.

For these reasons, she said washing hands with soap and water is the best option or you can use over-the-counter hand sanitizer with at least 60 percent alcohol.

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