Tito’s Vodka Says Using Booze as Hand Sanitizer Won’t Stop Coronavirus

Turns out 80-proof alcohol “does not meet the current recommendation of the CDC.”

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Vodka pairs well with Red Bull and with feeling sad while staring out at the snow. It is not, however, an appropriate substance to use when you’ve run out of Purell and looming fear of the Coronavirus makes you desperate to dunk your arms up to the elbows in a germ-killing substance of any kind. 

Tito’s, the Austin, Texas vodka maker, had to make sure customers knew this, and tweeted an advisory to that effect. If you read it imagining someone sighing in exasperation as they write then it has the intended effect.

“Per the CDC, hand sanitizer needs to contain at least 60% alcohol,” the company said in their tweet, “Tito’s Handmade Vodka is 40% alcohol, and therefore does not meet the current recommendation of the CDC.”

This was in response to a Twitter user who’d tagged Tito’s corporate account and written that they “made some hand sanitizer out your vodka.” 

By far the most important advice being given to the public regarding the novel coronavirus—a completely new bug that first appeared in China in late 2019—is to wash your hands.


We’re not just saying you have to slather your mitts with sanitary gel or vodka or even hi-test rum. WebMd tells us why straight-up soap and water is so effective:

Hand-washing — with soap and water — is a far more powerful weapon against germs than many of us realize.

[Co-director of the Center for Hygiene and Health in Home and Community at Simmons University in Boston Dr. Elizabeth] Scott says it works on two fronts: “The first thing that’s happening is that you’re physically removing things from your hands. At the same time, for certain agents, the soap will actually be busting open that agent, breaking it apart.”

Viruses are coated with what amounts to a layer of protective fat. Soap simply breaks through the fat, exposing and killing the virus within. 

Another important thing about handwashing—most people don’t do it right or for long enough. WebMD notes that most people do a “splash and dash,” doing little more than wetting their hands down and taking off. 

The basics per multiple sources, including WebMD:

  • Use hot or cold water; temperature is irrelevant.
  • Lather well, preferably with liquid or gel soap—soap that comes out of the dispenser as foam isn’t quite as effective. 
  • Wash for 20 seconds, at least. The internet is full of song recommendations for tunes to sing inside your head that last long enough.

Most people who catch the coronavirus won’t be able to tell the difference between it and a normal cold bug. It does, however, present a particular danger to the elderly and those with respiratory diseases and compromised immune systems, so it’s a good time to take special care when in the presence of friends and loved ones who fit those criteria.

None of this detracts from the healing powers of vodka, however, which remains a delicious way to at least forget your troubles when you feel like crap from catching any virus.