How to protect yourself without paying through the nose.
Can’t find hand sanitizer? You could make your own out of isopropyl alcohol. Now try to find that.
A search for “isopropyl alcohol 70 percent” on Amazon yields the following at the top:
So, the seller will let you have a pint of the stuff at a price of $22. Quite a contrast with the 25-cent tag on this bottle I bought at a grocery store long before there was a virus scare:
You can discern from the defunct house brand that I did not acquire my 25-cent alcohol recently. Still, adjusting for inflation would make my purchase price 44 cents. The current Amazon price is at a 4,900% premium to that.
Official line from the company: “There is no place for price gouging on Amazon.”
Amazon claims to have deleted many gougers from its platform. But the vendors that remain do seem to be exploiting the Covid epidemic. A recent search for “Purell hand sanitizer” turned up, at the top, two offers of small bottles for $34, several items marked “currently unavailable,” and a four-pack of large bottles for $299.
There’s no need to fall prey to a buying panic. Here’s some advice for Purell hunters:
—Rely on hand washing with soap and water as your main defense. Sanitizers are of uncertain value in killing virus particles, useful only as a fallback between sinks. At the sink, wash the faucet handles, which might be covered with germs.
—Consider using alcohol prep pads in lieu of liquid sanitizer. They seem to be plentiful and affordably priced online.
—If want a liquid, make your own. If you can find 70% alcohol on a drugstore shelf, mix it with a little glycerine to make do-it-yourself sanitizer. Don’t dilute the alcohol too much; the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention says you need to keep the strength at a minimum of 60%.
Glycerine is a moisturizer used in hand lotions. You can find it on Amazon at a reasonable price (71 cents an ounce).
—Protect your hands with disposable cotton gloves before grasping a door handle, subway pole or stair railing. The gloves will lessen (but not eliminate) the risk of picking up a droplet and transmitting it to your face.
A good buy on Amazon is the Cara brand of gloves. A box of 24 pairs in size XL is $20, or 83 cents a pair. This glove runs about two sizes too small, so select XL unless you are buying for a child. The gloves can survive a few washings.
Now some advice to Jeff Bezos:
Do a better job of purging gougers. Omit unavailable items from the first search page. Allow customers to sort answers in ascending order of unit price. You may gain some transitory benefit by cluttering the response page with bad buys, but you are creating a bad user experience.
Originally published at Forbes