Louis Vuitton Conglomerate Is Now Making Hand Sanitizer in Its Perfume Factories

LVMH will be able to make 12 tons of hand sanitizer this week alone as the coronavirus crisis escalates.
March 17, 2020, 3:29pm
perfume manufacturing factory
Photo: Getty Images

LVMH—the French luxury conglomerate that operates more than 75 brands, including high-end labels like Louis Vuitton, Fendi, and Celine—has a pretty clean Twitter feed, composed mostly of retweets from its own expensive family. It has recently shared updates about the launch of a new TAG Heuer watch collection, the arrival of the Loewe all-leather 'balloon' handbag, and the potential for an Anguillan vacation curated by Belmond—but it hasn't mentioned one of its biggest and arguably most important drops yet.


Over the weekend, the company announced that it will now use the production facilities that normally make fragrances and cosmetics for Dior, Givenchy, and Guerlain to churn out bottles of hydroalcoholic gel, aka hand sanitizer, instead. The resulting bottles of sanitizer will then be delivered free of charge to French health agencies, and to Assistance Publique-Hôpitaux de Paris (APHP), the largest teaching hospital system in Europe.

"Through this initiative, LVMH intends to help address the risk of a lack of product in France and enable a greater number of people to continue to take the right action to protect themselves from the spread of the [coronavirus]," the company wrote in a statement, adding that it would "continue to honor this commitment" as long as it was needed.

AFP reports that the company will be able to make 12 tons of hand sanitizer this week alone. "I wish to thank LVMH for acting so quickly: they made us this offer on Saturday night at 9pm, and confirmed it on Sunday,” Martine Hirsch, the head of Paris hospitals, told the agency.

As of this writing, there have been 5,397 confirmed cases of coronavirus in France, and 127 deaths. On Saturday, French Prime Minister Édouard Philippe announced that all non-essential businesses, including bars, restaurants, movie theaters, and clubs, would be closed. "We have seen too many people in cafes and restaurants," he said. "In usual times, this would make me happy, because this is the France we all love. But for a few weeks, this is not what we should be doing."

In the United States, a Portland, Oregon distillery has been making its own DIY hand wash too. According to Willamette Week, Shine Distillery and Grill is turning the 160-proof leftovers from its still into "hand cleaner," and it's giving pocket-sized bottles away for free. Shine isn't allowed to legally call the product "sanitizer," but it does exceed the CDC's recommendation that alcohol-based hand sanitizers should be least 60% alcohol. (Sorry, Tito's Vodka still cannot and should not be used for this purpose.)

"Three types of alcohol are generated in the fermentation process," distillery owner Jon Poteet said. "The moonshiners would call it the heads, hearts and tails. Methyl alcohol [heads] comes out first, and they would end up throwing it away." Shine didn't throw it away: pre-coronavirus, they used it to clean their windows and drains.

According to Shine's Facebook page, other distilleries across the U.S. have since reached out to see how they can start offering the same service to their own communities. If that's the case, then maybe now's a good time to pick up a gift card to use at one of those big-hearted local businesses when things have calmed down in a few weeks (or however long it takes). Until then, more good news like this, please.