Amid the Coronavirus outbreak, the World Health Organisation (WHO) and health experts have requested the public to maintain personal hygiene. Frequently washing hands with soap and water or using alcohol-based hand sanitizers are considered the most effective ways to protect from contracting the novel virus.

However, due to its high demand, hand sanitizers have gone out of stock in most of the supermarkets and medical stores all over the world, forcing people to make one by themselves. Multiple videos of people mixing the ingredients like isopropyl or rubbing alcohol (99 per cent alcohol volume), aloe vera gel or essential oil, such as tea tree oil or lavender oil, to make sanitizers have already surfaced online.

Now, the latest claim by netizens is that mixing rum, bleach and fabric softener (using the brands Tanduay Rhum, Zonrox, Downy) is effective in protecting against the novel coronavirus. Multiple videos of people from the Philippines (with them speaking in Philippine language Visayan) making homemade sanitizers using these ingredients are already going viral on social media. They are also seen rubbing the final solution on their hands.

Hoax busted

Health experts are of the opinion that these mixtures used in the 'newly discovered sanitizer' can be harmful to one's health. They have also claimed that it is not an effective way to protect against COVID-19 infection but can result in toxic effects if ingested, inhaled or absorbed through the skin.

According to the statement by Integrated Chemists of the Philippines (ICP), using distilled alcoholic products such as lambanog, rum, vodka with bleach (made of hypochlorite) to make hand sanitizer is not recommended. They have also suggested that preparation of sanitizers using bleach or hypochlorite should be done only by trained professionals.

"ICP) wishes to inform the public that such alcoholic products contain only about 40% alcohol and lack the concentration needed for a hand sanitizer. In addition, hypochlorite can cause skin irritation and inflammation. Such products which are below the required 70% alcohol concentration should NOT BE USED as hand sanitizer," reads the statement.

Integrated Chemists of the Philippians debunks the fake videos on mixing rum, bleach and fabric softener to make hand sanitizer
Integrated Chemists of the Philippians debunks the fake videos on mixing rum, bleach and fabric softener to make hand sanitizer Integrated Chemists of the Philippians/Facebook

Even Tanduay Rhum, the company that produces the rum seen in the viral videos, has come forward with an explanation on using their product in making hand sanitizers.

"Tanduay Distillers, Inc. strongly advises against mixing Tanduay Rhum with bleach, hand sanitizer or other chemicals. To be clear, this WILL NOT produce a viable disinfectant against the COVID-19 virus. On the contrary, this may cause serious harm, therefore should not be attempted," reads the company's Facebook post.

Meanwhile, Green Cross Inc, the parent company of Zonrox bleach has also issued a public advisory requesting users from refrain using their product in making hand sanitizers as seen in the recent viral videos.