DIY Hand Sanitizer

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Never buy store-bought hand sanitizer again! A super easy recipe for hand sanitizer that actually leaves your skin clean and moisturized.

There are few issues that stir up a group of “crunchy” (naturally-minded, real-foodie, homemade) ladies as much as hand sanitizer.

Okay, maybe vaccines. But, we’re not going there. Let’s stick with dirty hands and the clear liquid found in millions of purses and classrooms across America.

Before kids I had a “thing” (me and my “things”) against dirt, but oh my, how things changed once my first baby entered the picture. Suddenly messes and dirt (and other unmentionables) stuck to my hair, clothes, skin, and house like cheese on a good grass-fed burger. The need to embrace dirt (not being dirty, just a few extra clingy good germs) became apparent.

Here’s the funny thing about dirt: the more I embraced it, the less we got sick. I’m sure a good diet also helped, along with natural preventives such as: probiotic kombucha, elderberry syrup, and homemade chicken broth.

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In this guide, you’ll learn how to…

  • be an informed consumer and read ingredient lists
  • make your own body products using simple ingredients (i.e.cocoa powder, baking soda, oats, yogurt, honey)
  • determine what to buy versus make

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Now, please hear me out. I’m not talking about smothering our bodies in buckets of dirt and rubbing our hands on every public grocery cart in the store. Please don’t do that! Instead, let’s avoid the constant urge to sanitize our living conditions with millions of toxins in a state of paranoia. Cleaning is good, very good! But a little bit of healthy dirt (allowing our kids to run around outside, garden, and get dirty every now and then) is wonderful for the immune system. In fact, our guts need good bacteria to fight off the bad guys–this is an important aspect to having a healthy and thriving immune system.

Never buy store-bought hand sanitizer again! A super easy recipe for hand sanitizer that actually leaves your skin clean and moisturized.

Before we throw away our soap and hand sanitizer, I would like to tell you that I believe in cleanliness. I believe a good liquid hand soap is important to stock in the kitchen and bathroom, laundry soap is a necessity (obviously), and body wash is a smart choice.  I also believe hand sanitizer has a time and place: after handling money or touching the never-washed grocery store carts.

Never buy store-bought hand sanitizer again! A super easy recipe for hand sanitizer that actually leaves your skin clean and moisturized.

For those times when good ol’ soap and water just aren’t available, and hands needs to be washed, I keep a homemade hand sanitizer in my purse, made with a few simple ingredients.

Never buy store-bought hand sanitizer again! A super easy recipe for hand sanitizer that actually leaves your skin clean and moisturized.

Let’s embrace good hygiene, naturally. I promise it can be done.

More Natural Ways to Protect Against Unwanted Germs

homemade DIY hand sanitizer
5 from 11 votes
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Hand Sanitizer

For those times when good ol’ soap and water just aren’t available and hands needs to be washed, keep a homemade hand sanitizer (made with a few simple ingredients) in your bag.

Course DIY
Cuisine Body
Keyword Hand Sanitizer
Prep Time 5 minutes
Total Time 5 minutes
Servings 2 oz
Author Kristin Marr

Ingredients

  • 3 TB 190 proof alcohol or at least 120 proof alcohol or 70% or higher isopropyl rubbing alcohol (the original recipe called for witch hazel, however, alcohol is considered the best and what's currently recommended in light of recent issues). Don't use other types of alcohol (methanol, butanol) since they're toxic.
  • 1 TB aloe vera (this is to prevent hands from drying out from the alcohol)
  • 1/2 tsp vegetable glycerin or vitamin E oil (optional, again adds moisturizing properties to the hand sanitizer to benefit your hands)
  • essential oil (optional, like a few drops of tea tree or lavender essential oil) see note below

Instructions

  1. Combine all the ingredients in a bowl. To use the hand sanitizer store in a small jar or a squeeze tube (like this). This recipe will make 2 fluid ounces (one tube.) If you prefer to make a spray, use this recipe.

Recipe Notes

CORONA VIRUS UPDATE: With coronavirus on the rise, this post is particularly helpful from a pediatrician. She specifically addresses coronavirus. I'm not a doctor or disease specialist. Please consult your doctor and the CDC website to do your own research about the best ways to protect your family. The CDC recommends hand sanitizer that's at least 60% alcohol. The power of this hand sanitizer comes from the alcohol, so if you don't have the essential oils, no worries. The important part is the alcohol! 

The original recipe included essential oils, but they aren't necessary. The necessary ingredient is at least 60% alcohol, so to simplify this recipe and make it as easy as possible, I've adjusted the recipe to reflect this. 

Never buy store-bought hand sanitizer again! A super easy recipe for hand sanitizer that actually leaves your skin clean and moisturized.

Disclaimer: The DIY recipes on this website are based on my personal experiences. I am not a trained chemist, cleaning specialist, or skincare expert. The DIY recipes shared on this website haven’t been tested in a lab. Information about my products or recipes haven’t been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. Please consult a doctor or specialist for specific concerns about any skincare issues, cleaning products, or dietary needs. Please use your discretion, based on your own research, when making homemade products.

 

 More DIYs You May Like:

DIY homemade liquid hand soap

 DIY Liquid Hand Soap

DIYnatural floor cleaner wipes homemade swiffer

 DIY Natural Floor Cleaner Wipes 

DIY Reusable and Disinfecting Cleaning Cloths

DIY Cleaner Wipes 

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125 Comments

  • In addition to nasty chemicals in store-bought brands there is also the issue of overuse–folks keeping everything sanitized allowing no exposure to germs. I assume you can do the same with natural ingredients. Hyper-clean OCD-style germ destruction can be the same with EOs as it is with chemicals, right? You’re avoiding the propylene glycol and the FD&C Blue No. 1 but you’re still not giving your body the chance to meet the germs that will help you become stronger. I’m not sure I’m explaining this very well. What do you think?

    • I have read that lavender can cause problems for boys, messing with their endocrine system and inhibiting proper development. Do you know anything about this?

      • This revolves around a test regarding synthetic lavender oils (Such as what you would find in a bedtime wash off a walmart shelf or a lavender oil from a health food store. You get what you pay for ALWAYS. ) and does not apply to 100% pure essential oils. Know your farmer, Know your distiller, Know their quality standards.

        • Hey Ashley, Thank you for sharing. It’s always good to know where your products are coming from. Thankfully, there are a number of very reputable essential oil companies out there, including a couple from the health food store.

    • One thing I saw in another DIY was to sanitize all the objects used to make this – including hands – and let the mixture sit in fridge for 72 hours to allow any germs or viruses to be killed before use.

  • I made this this afternoon and my hands feel so soft! However, I really struggled to get the gel into my squeeze container. Maybe this is just a novice problem and a stupid question, but I ended up wasting some of my precious essential oils (although I must say, my countertops smell very nice now!). I tried piping it through a ziploc with a hole cut in the corner, but it wasn’t ideal. Suggestions?

    • Hey Erica, I’m so glad you’re hands feel soft! I’m sorry you lost some oils. Are you using the tubes? If so, I use a funnel to pour the hand sanitizer into the tube. I hope that helps :). I usually get a bit more than a dime size amount (more like the size of a nickel) when I squeeze the tube (once sealed and ready to use), so I just share the love with the kids :).

  • Thanks so much for all your great information and “recipes”.

    I’ve seen recommendations that when buying commerical hand sanitizer that it have 60% alchol at a minimum. Do you know how much alcohol is in witch hazel? In other words, would this (really good sounding formula!) have enough to be truly effective? Thanks!

    • Hey Linda,

      You’re welcome :).

      The main ingredient in store-bought hand sanitizer is water (along with alcohol, aloe vera, and other ingredients.) The witch hazel doesn’t contain as much alcohol as a pure alcohol does, but it’s still highly effective, particularly when paired with the tea tree and lavender. You can also use rubbing alcohol or even vodka, just reduce the amount by a tablespoon because it’s a bit more harsh on the skin.

    • Hey Kristine, I would use something like orange essential oil if you have it or you could just add a few more drops of tea tree. The lavender is more for the beneficial properties than scent, but those two oils can be substituted.

      • I would be careful with adding any Citrus Essential Oils. Citrus EOs are photo-sensitive; which mean they can cause burns when exposed to direct sun light.
        Some EOs like Lime can be safe to use depending on how they are produced.

          • is their another cheaper and easy-to-find materials/ingredients to use?
            oh,and i’m planning to use this as our investigatory project in science

          • Hey Ashley Jane Tojoy,

            I can’t recommend different ingredients in this particular recipe as I haven’t experimented with any other ingredients. The best option may be to pick up the majority of the ingredients from a CVS or Walgreens. And then find a local store or Amazon for the essential oils. That would probably be the cheapest way to make this recipe.

  • Hi, what is the benefit to using essential oils in this sanitizer? I have a sensitivity to most smells and would prefer them not to be on my hands for hours…could I leave out all essential oils and have this still be an effective germ killer?

  • 5 stars
    I made this sanitizer and love it! I am wondering however if it has to be refrigerated as the aloe Vera gel bottle says to refrigerate after opening. I mainly keep the sanitizer in my diaper bag and I know I will forget to grab it from the fridge and hence not have it when needed. Any info you can share on this would be great.

    • Hey Jo,

      Most homemade hand sanitizers are used fairly quickly (a few weeks to a month), so I don’t refrigerate my hand sanitizer, but the leftover aloe vera should be stored in the fridge for long-term use. If you plan on making enough hand sanitizer to last long-term, I would store the extra in the fridge until needed. Hope that helps :). Aloe vera is a plant and can be used a dietary supplement which is why most pure aloe vera brands recommend the refrigerator for storage (in my opinion and experience).

      • I think the aloe needs to be refrigerated on
        It’s own, but the alcohol once mixed with the aloe gel should keep it germ free and fresh.

  • Hi, this is exactly what I’ve been looking for, so thanks. 🙂 I am wondering how you determined the dilution rate for the essential oils? Every chart I can find shows 24 drops of EO per 2 ounces of carrier is more like a 2% dilution. Which I’m fine with; just wondering.

    Also, what do you think of f subbing 1 Tbs of vegetable glycerin for one of the Tbsps of aloe? More softening, or more sticky?

    Thanks!

    • Hey Jones, I used a basic dilution chart, but also catered the recipe toward our scent preferences. You’re welcome to add more or less of the essential oils, if desired and based on the 2% dilution. Adding more glycerin may cause the hand sanitizer to be runny, but that’s just my initial thought…I haven’t tried making the substitution. If you try it, let me know how it goes.

      • 5 stars
        Hi Kristin, thanks for the update. I guess I was confused because the instructions said “based on .5% dilution.” Anyway, I did try adding glycerin. Initially I used 2 Tbsp Aloe gel, 1 Tbsp glycerin & 1 Tbsp alcohol (instead of witch hazel), and you’re right, it was runnier. Interestingly, and unlike the original batch, there was room in the container for an additional Tbsp. of Aloe, so I added more. It’s full to the top, but it solved the runniness issue. 🙂 That said, I’m not so sure I like the feel of it as well as the batch without glycerin. It’s doesn’t leave my hands feeling sticky, exactly, but something. Thanks again, this is a great recipe and I see a number of others on your site that I’m looking forward to trying.

        • No problem, Jones :). I apologize for the confusion. Thanks for sharing your experiment…it’s always fascinating how one or two little tweaks can change a recipe.

  • I stumbled upon your blog this morning (along with Humblebee) and am so glad I did – lots of great ideas and recipes. My youngest son has an immune deficiency and for a year and a half he could not even go outside due to potential fungus blowing in the wind and pathogens lurking in the ground. While his situation is not nearly so precarious, germs are still an enemy and we sanitize frequently at home – I’m also an RN, so sanitizing is my job! I’ve been looking for something more natural and am grateful for this recipe. Thank you!

    • Hey Glennae, I’m so glad you found Live Simply and the Humblebee this morning! Welcome! My mom is an RN and every time we visit her at work, we always carry our homemade hand sanitizer. I think you’re going to love the homemade version. Enjoy!!

  • i accidentally used aloe Vera juice instead of gel, is there anyway to fix what I have mixed. I hope I don’t have to throw it away!

  • Just found your site through Pinterest and I can’t wait to try this hand sanitizer along with some of your other recipes! I made the switch to homemade cleaners last year in an effort to reduce waste. I’m excited to see recipes for laundry detergent and several other things that I still buy but hope to make. Thanks for the inspiration!

  • I am planning on making this using Young Living’s Thieves Essential Oil, since it is great for immune support! I was wondering one thing. I bought a couple of the little 2oz bottles of Aloe Vera, would it mix together well if I just emptied out some of the aloe into another container, and add the other ingredients into the bottle and shake well?

  • I’m in the process of changing over to all natural, and mostly homemade products. I was excited to stumble across this post, as I never considered making my own hand sanitizer! This sounds like a great recipe-I can’t wait to try it! The only thing that doesn’t add up is that you stated the amount of EOs are based on a 0.5% dilution, but 24 drops of EO in 2 ounces of finished product is actually a 2% dilution. Just thought you might want to change that so people aren’t thinking they’re using a more dilute formulation, especially if they’ll be using it on kids.

  • I was just wondering what made this a hand sanitizer? Is it the witch hazel or the essence oils? I’m asking because I would like to use a different scent.

  • Hi Kristin,
    My son’s class wants to make this recipe in 50ml foaming bottles. Could you please tell me if the recipe needs to be adapted to foam? Thank you..

  • 5 stars
    Oh I am so happy to find your site. I have been searching for ways to make homemade cleaners for a while! Your recipes are the kinds I would like to try!

  • Hi Kristen, just stumbled upon your recipe and have a question. A friend and I made hand sanitizer last week with a recipe using only aloe vera gel, tea tree oil and an essential oil.
    Ours didn’t turn out as “squeezable” as a shop bought version, while yours in the pic in the bowl above looks more squeezable/runny than ours.
    I was wondering if it was the witch hazel that makes it more squeezable?

  • Quick question: do the essential oils you suggest have sanitizing properties or are they merely for scent? I ask because I love this stuff, but my husband cannot stand the scent of tea tree oil…bad childhood memories ?

  • Hi Kristin! So looking forward to try on your recipe. Btw, for the aloe vera gel, could I use those from Korea “Nature Republic Aloe Vera Soothing Gel”?

  • Hello Kristin,

    Odd question: I like to keep hand sanitizer in my car. Is this any less effective if left in the car?

    Thanks!

    • Hey Chris, Good catch! I never noticed this recommendation. I haven’t had an issue with Witch hazel in the tubes. You could use something else for storage. Not sure what else would be good.

    • Gloria, when you posted this we had not yet been hit with the Corona Virus. Now that we have, the CDC is very specific that the concoction must be minimum 60% alcohol.

      This means you need a stronger alcohol than a 60/70% strength. They sell a 91% one, but not sure the math to make that into final strength of 60% minimum recommended. If you used maybe 1T aloe vera, to 4T 91% alcohol, you would be closer but it would be a little watery. Maybe a different kind of bottle, i like the little pump one my purell came in, a 2 oz container. I bet you can find those on Amazon.

      • Hi Chuey,

        Thank you for your comment. This is a very old post and Kristin has updated to reflect what is needed to kill the coronavirus.

        LS Team.

  • 5 stars
    Thank you for sharing this info, Kristin. I’ve been using Everyone hand saniztizer gel, but it’s pricey. I decided to search for a DIY recipe and chose your post in the list of hit results from Startpage. I’m thinking about experimenting with different essential oils for scent; rosemary will be one of them.

  • Hi! Thank you so much for sharing the recipe! Quick question though, I tried making it but then it turned out to be quite sticky. Do you have any idea to make it not sticky? Thanks!

  • Glad I found your recipe in as commercial hand sanitizers are sold out everywhere due to Coronavirus. The mixture was a little too thick for my liking, so revised the recipe to 2 Tablespoons of 70% isopropyl alcohol, which worked great for me. I used a syringe to fill my plastic squeeze bottles as the mixture was still too thick to pour. I will no longer purchase hand sanitizers!

  • Hi Kristin, do you believe that your formula is more effective than shop brought hand sanitizer? I am just curious because I am eager to try it, however I am not sure if it causes any irritation to the skin.

  • I bought “After sun gel with Aloe” it’s green and gel-like. Will this work to make the sanitizer or do I have to purchase another brand/kind.

    • Hi Leslie, unfortunately that is not real aloe. If you look at the ingredient list, aloe is one of the last ingredients one it. Please let me know if you have other questions.

      LS Team.

  • 5 stars
    Just made this for my granddaughter as everything has been sold off the shelf with this corona virus. The idea of vitamin E is great for softening the hands I think that any of the essential oils that are nit viral would be great for this. Thank you

  • Not to be a Debbie Downer, but your recipe needs to be stronger! Minimum 60% isopropyl alcohol, that is, 60% of the *finished volume*. (CDC COVID-19 guidelines)

    If you are using 60%- or 70% strength alcohol, measuring 2/3 finished volume, the total strength is cut by the AloeVera. The alcohol should be 100% strength, so when it’s diluted by the aloe, the total strength will be 60%.

    There’s no 100% isopropyl alcohol at target or CVS, but they do sell 91%, and i think 99%. But good luck finding it bc everybody and his brother are buying it!

    Best to use wet ones (baby wipes) tho it has no alcohol, is second best if you can’t get to a proper sink to wash with soap n hot water.😊 (for 20 seconds!!)

    • Hi Chuey,

      Thank you for your comment. This is a very old post and Kristin has updated to reflect what is needed to kill the coronavirus.

      LS Team.

  • Hi. I made this recipe and was surprised that the solution turned purple. Any idea what might have happened? I had rinsed the container with boiling water before I bottled it up.

  • The aloe vera gel and the alcohol don’t mix together at all, The gel stays separated and begins to harden in the alcohol. What am I doing wrong?

  • 5 stars
    Awesome recipe – just made it myself. I did something a little silly that was probably a mistake, but not a terrible one. I didn’t have any vitamin E or other oils, so I substituted some vitamin D3 edible capsules by breaking said capsules. It gives an almost-fishy smell and overall I wouldn’t recommend it (and will be looking for a strong scent to try and cover it) but I doubt it will hurt anything!

    Any recommendations on some oils to pick up that could help mitigate the scent? I’m worried that lavendar won’t be steong enough.

    • Hi Laura!

      haha, I’m sorry that happened! I’m sure thats not a very good smell. You can try adding more tea tree oil. That has a more powerful smell than lavender.

      LS Team.

    • Hi Ann,

      You could add vitamin e or glycerin, both are moisturizing. Or you could skip it but the alcohol alone will dry out your hands that’s why it’s added.

      LS Team.

  • 5 stars
    I liked your original recipe of 3 T Aloe Vera Gel, 2 T Rubbing Alcohol, 1/2 t Vitamin E Oil, 20 drops of Tea Tree Oil & 10 drops of Lavender Oil. Wouldn’t the Tea Tree/Lavender Oil boost this recipe so that I wouldn’t need to increase the rubbing alcohol content to be at least 60% alcohol?

    • Hi there,

      The essential oils haven’t been proven effective against the virus facing us. There are no studies on this. However, the CDC does recommend at least 60 % alcohol as being successful. For everyday life, that recipe is fine but in light of current times and the number of people are having coming to the blog for hand sanitizer in light of recent events. We had to update to share the most up to date information.

      LS Team.

  • The recipe you show is potentially dangerous for children. The recipe on John’s Hopkins dr chat is 2parts 70 plus alcohol and 1 part aloe jell or juice. Vitamin E is a great idea as well as essential oils. Thank you for being out there with a solution. I live in AZ and have been making my own sanitizer by processing fresh aloe from my yard. If your interested in the process feel free to contact me.

    • Hi Michelle,

      Thank you for the information. Can you share how it’s dangerous, if so please let us know how.

      Thank you.

      LS Team.

  • Before I found your recipe I used another, essentially 2 parts alcohol91%, 1 part aloe and 10 drops tea tree oil. I had a big leaf of aloe from the garden and “filleted” it. I took the gel and put it into a blender with the alcohol and tea tree oil. After a day or 2 it turned pink. Is this just oxidation or is the batch no good at all.

  • This recipe does will only yield a hand sanitizer that is above 60% alcohol content at 90% alcohol or above. If you use 70%-80% you will not have sufficient alcohol level to reliably kill viruses. Almost every recipe I check on line is below 60%, this is the first one that is partially correct.

    The math is fairly simple:
    ((volume of alcohol)/(volume of alcohol+Volume of other material))xAlcohol % as a decimel
    In this case:
    (( 3 tbs alcohol)/(3 tbs+1 tbs aloe + .333 tbs glycerin)) x .95 = 65.8%

    I think it would be good to clarify that you should not go below a 90% alcohol solution to start with.

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