Psychologists believe the hoarding behavior during crisis is related to a sense of control. It’s ironic because it exhibits instead both a lack of control as well as a transfer of power from the individual to large corporations known to use their fortunes to further reduce individual control.
People have faith in hand sanitizer because slick marketing packages perception of control into a small bottle, not because of any valid reasons versus other known safer and more effective options.
One of the crazier things I hear, for example, is that hand sanitizer is more “convenient” because you don’t always have water with you. This of course begs the question of why you could have hand sanitizer with you if you can’t carry a small bottle of water?
Another thing I hear is that hand sanitizer saves time. Yet that is exactly the problem with it. Doing the 20 second minimum of soap and water washing is what makes it so effective. Going faster is less effective for both, plus you often find people squirting sanitizer multiple times and rubbing anyway.
More to the point, being out and about with exposure to things like dirt, dust and oils makes sanitizer even less effective versus hand washing with soap.
Business Insider did a simple experiment to show real differences between sanitizer and soap (lighter is worse).
Despite these facts, sales research shows percentages are up massively for sanitizer while soap doesn’t even make the chart
The only people really benefiting from such panic and hoarding of goods are political extremists like the Koch family that dominate the industry and who infamously tried to stoke fears of democracy by claiming things like Eisenhower was a Communist.
Just remember, the more you panic buy things like sanitizer and toilet paper instead of local soap, the more a giant Koch empire is working to undermine democracy.
What is needed is another round of posters to remind people to stay calm and lather.
During the Great Fire of San Francisco, for example, the Oakland Mayor simply said businesses that use surge pricing during disasters (e.g. the entire predatory business concept of Lyft and Uber) would have their assets confiscated by the military.
Can you imagine modern-day hackers from the government taking Amazon’s assets under military control in order to stop rampant criminal price gouging practices?
There are many other good examples so it’s a wonder nobody in government anywhere seems to be creating modern versions of these.