How to Make Natural Homemade Hand Sanitizer

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Homemade DIY natural hand sanitizer
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I am not a fan of commercial hand sanitizers. (Probably doesn’t surprise anyone!) This may sound strange but I don’t use antibacterial soap or strong cleaners at home because I actually believe having a little bacteria around is a good thing.

I’m glad that I started making my own personal care products years ago, especially since the FDA ruled in 2016 that manufacturers should stop using triclosan, a common ingredient in antibacterial soaps and sanitizers at the time, due to its ability to disrupt hormones and contribution to a rise in resistant strains of bacteria.

Just goes to show it pays to read the research!

That said… certain ingredients can be helpful in combating viruses, and with the current climate of those going around, I am being more proactive than I normally am. Scroll down to the bottom of this post to see other measures I’m taking to stay well.

Why Put Down the Hand Sanitizer?

My home isn’t a hospital (thanks to generally strong immune systems) so I take a gentler approach and make this homemade hand sanitizer to use only when we can’t wash our hands or are concerned about exposure to really bad bacteria.

I can see the appeal of killing “99.9% of germs” when you have a family of small children, and illness for one usually means illness for all. Still, it’s helpful to understand some reasons why the antibacterial label popping up on all kinds of soaps, wipes, and cleaners might not be the solution it seems to be.

  • Reason #1: Regular hand washing might be just as effective and should be a first line of defense. Recent reports show that washing with warm water and soap for at least 30 seconds is as effective as antibacterial soaps and sanitizers. They still have their place but make sure to wash hands as well!
  • Reason #2: It may be true that antibacterial products kill 99.9% of germs, but that .1% is the most potentially harmful (since it can resist antibacterial agents). This small percentage that survives then breeds and passes on its antibiotic resistance to its offspring, creating lines of “super bugs” that resist antibiotic use. This may be one factor in the dramatic increase in strains like MRSA.
  • Reason #3: Triclosan, the chemical in most antibacterial soaps has been shown to interact with chlorine in the water to form chloroform gas. On top of that, it has been shown to be a hormone disruptor, especially in children. I’m glad it’s been phased out from so many products, but I’m skeptical it solves the issue.
  • Reason #4: Some evidence shows that kids who grow up in an overly sterile environment have higher rates of allergies and asthma than kids who don’t use antibacterial products as much. Exposure to different types of bacteria, especially early in life, helps kids’ immune systems to develop.

Give Bacteria a Little Respect!

My strategy when it comes to keeping the nasty bacteria at bay is to make sure my kids’ immune systems are strong. We focus on eating a real food diet with plenty of fermented veggies and drinks (good bacteria) and restricting sugar. We also prioritize good old fashioned play time outside, where they can get vitamin D from the sun and healthy bacteria from the soil microbiome.

I use handmade bar soaps or homemade foaming hand soap for all of our hand washing needs, and we made it through another flu season with no cases of the flu. Coincidence? Maybe, but I don’t see the need to use harsh chemicals to sanitize my house daily.

Benefits of Natural Hand Sanitizer (with Essential Oils)

We don’t use even our natural hand sanitizer very often and opt for simple hand washing whenever possible. I do keep a little bottle of homemade hand sanitizer by the sink though to ensure safety after handling meat or changing a diaper, etc.

Besides stinking to high heaven, commercial sanitizers often contain drying alcohol that is too strong for kids to use anyway. The nice thing about making my own is I can make a more gentle version for use around the kids and a stronger one to use in a place like a public restroom.

Instead of triclosan or other antibacterial agents, I use essential oils that inhibit bacteria naturally, being careful to choose ones that are safe for kids. There is also some evidence that these oils can help battle viruses, making them potentially more effective. It is important to note that these first two recipes are more like a waterless soap and not a full hand sanitizer. The CDC explains that a product must be at least 60% alcohol to be a hand sanitizer and only the last recipe can reach that percentage.

No Time to DIY?

If you need a ready-made option, try my hand sanitizer from Wellnesse. While I still don’t advocate using hand sanitizer all the time (usually just soap and water will do), this is a natural, safe option for those times when you need extra protection.

How to Make Your Own Natural Hand Sanitizer

Here are my go-to hand sanitizer recipes. I start out with the most gentle. Increase the strength as needed.

Homemade DIY natural hand sanitizer
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3.62 from 65 votes

Homemade Hand Sanitizer Recipe (Safe for Kids)

This homemade hand sanitizer recipe is non-drying with an herbal gel base and nourishes with aloe vera. It’s so simple that your children can help you make it.
Prep Time1 minute
Author: Katie Wells

Instructions

Notes

See below for some stronger versions.

Stronger Hand Sanitizer Recipe

For a stronger hand sanitizer that performs like commercial versions (without the triclosan), try this recipe. If you work in a hospital, this might be a good one for your personal use. I would not use this recipe on kids!

Ingredients

Instructions

  1. To make, mix aloe vera gel, optional glycerin, and rubbing alcohol in a small bowl.
  2. Add cinnamon essential oil and tea tree oil along with a drop or two of any other oils you want to add for scent. Lemongrass, orange, lavender, and peppermint are good choices.
  3. Mix well and add about 1 tablespoon of distilled water (or colloidal/ionic silver) to thin to desired consistency.
  4. Use a small funnel or medicine dropper to transfer hand sanitizer into spray or pump type bottles. This can also be stored in small silicone tubes for use on the go.
  5. Use as you would any other type of hand sanitizer.

Strongest Homemade Hand Sanitizer Recipe (5 Minute Recipe)

The CDC recommends at least 60% alcohol in hand sanitizer to effectively battle viruses. This formula follows this percentage and adds aloe vera for gentleness and essential oils for extra virus fighting. This is the one I am currently using after being in areas where viruses are more likely to be transmitted.

Ingredients:

Instructions:

  1. Mix all ingredients and combine in a spray bottle (these are the perfect size) or small bottle of any kind. Use as needed.

Keep in mind that you should adjust the recipe depending on the strength of the alcohol you’re using. For example, if you’re using 99% Isopropyl rubbing alcohol, you’ll need a different amount of aloe vera than if you were using 70% alcohol. Here are some quick guidelines?

Option 1 with 99% Isopropyl Rubbing Alcohol:
2 parts alcohol
1 part aloe vera gel
(For example: 2/3 cup alcohol + 1/3 cup aloe vera gel)

Option 2 with 70% Isopropyl or Rubbing Alcohol:
9 parts alcohol
1 part aloe vera gel
(For example: 90ml or 3 ounces of alcohol + 10ml or 2 teaspoons of aloe vera gel)

Option 3 with 91% Isopropyl or Rubbing Alcohol:
3 parts alcohol
1 part aloe vera gel
(For example: 3/4 cup alcohol + 1/4 cup aloe vera gel)

Notes

  • Always check with a doctor or healthcare provider before using essential oils, especially on children or if you have a medical condition.
  • Using fresh aloe vera gel isn’t as stable for counter storage; a commercial brand is recommended.

If you like this recipe, also try my DIY disinfecting wipes for kitchen counters or bathrooms.

Other Ways We Stay Well

This time of year, we prioritize a few ways to stay well:

  • Diffusing Essential Oils: I’m diffusing Germ Destroyer Kid-Safe essential oil or Germ Fighter Essential Oil (from Plant Therapy) regularly. I’m also keeping many of their blends including Respiraid on hand in case of illness.
  • Hand Washing: Sources agree that regular hand washing with soap and warm water for at least 30 seconds is just as effective as harsh sanitizers so we’re making sure to wash our hands even more than we normally would, especially after being in any public places.
  • Nasal Irrigation:  Another step I always take this time of year. We use a mixture of XClear nasal rinse with Xylitol and Nasopure Nasal Irrigation, especially after travel or potential exposure.
  • Propolis Spray: We spray our throats with Propolis spray before and after leaving the house.
  • Vitamin C: Several sources recommend getting enough Vitamin C to help fortify the body against viruses. I keep ascorbic acid powder on hand and increase our dose at the first sign of any sniffles. I also get Vitamin C IVs this time of year, especially before and after travel.
  • Vitamin D: Sources also suggest that having optimal Vitamin D levels might help protect the body from the worst of viruses and from respiratory complications. I test our levels this time of year (EverlyWell has an at-home test) and use drops to get our levels in a good range (above 50).

This article was medically reviewed by Dr. Lauren Jefferis, board certified in Internal Medicine and Pediatrics. As always, this is not personal medical advice and we recommend that you talk with your doctor or work with a concierge doctor at SteadyMD.

Ever made your own hand sanitizer? How did it turn out?

Ever wanted to make homemade hand sanitizer? This tutorial will show you how to make a safe, herbal, all-natural hand sanitizer at home.

Sources
Katie Wells Avatar

About Katie Wells

Katie Wells, CTNC, MCHC, Founder of Wellness Mama and Co-founder of Wellnesse, has a background in research, journalism, and nutrition. As a mom of six, she turned to research and took health into her own hands to find answers to her health problems. WellnessMama.com is the culmination of her thousands of hours of research and all posts are medically reviewed and verified by the Wellness Mama research team. Katie is also the author of the bestselling books The Wellness Mama Cookbook and The Wellness Mama 5-Step Lifestyle Detox.

Comments

224 responses to “How to Make Natural Homemade Hand Sanitizer”

  1. Linda H Avatar
    Linda H

    Hi,
    Wonderful recipe. Can I use Tea Tree oil instead of germ destroyer essential oil?
    Thank you!

  2. Glenda Wade Avatar
    Glenda Wade

    I have the same difficulty as other readers and had a stringy mess of aloe that wouldn’t mix in. Did you post a solution? I didn’t see one. Thank you.

  3. Angie Mohr Avatar
    Angie Mohr

    4 stars
    Some great recipes I’d love to share with my online community, but would never use rubbing alcohol for much of anything. I’d use vodka personally.

  4. Terry Ann Sadowski Avatar
    Terry Ann Sadowski

    Would the dilutions be the same for ethynol alcohol? I have 95% ethynol on hand and would like to use it for hand sanitizer.

  5. Sasha Forsyth Avatar
    Sasha Forsyth

    This did not work at all. The aloe did not mix in no matter what I tried. It just ended up being a stringy mess at the bottom. What did I do wrong?

  6. Edward Avatar

    I believe that your 91% ratios are not correct (I think you had a typo?) – they end up with a 39% alcohol solution. As per your lead-in statement about CDC recommended minimum, you should have a 3 parts 91% alcohol to 1 part aloe gel ratio, which results in at 68% alcohol solution. The 39% will not kill viruses. Hope this is helpful to others.

  7. Jeannie W Avatar
    Jeannie W

    5 stars
    Thank you for your great and healthy recipes, I always know where to go to find the best recipes for DIY for my home I just have a question. I only have Aloe juice not gel. Can juice be used to make the hand sanitizer? I realize it’s more liquidy, but would you use the Gel over the juice to make this recipe?

    Thanks
    Jeannie W

  8. Kaljuma Avatar
    Kaljuma

    I tried the recipe with 2 parts alcohol 1 part fresh aloe from my plant 1 part water (i found the 99usp too strong) then a mix of lemongrass, lavender, white pine, tea tree eos and coconut essence. It went from a yellow green colour to pink after a couple days. Is it still ok?

    1. Katie Wells Avatar

      That wouldn’t be 66% alcohol like the CDC recommends, but I think the color change is just from the aloe leaves.

    2. Kare Avatar

      2 stars
      Fresh aloe needs to be refrigerated or frozen. That’s probably why it changed color. You can Vitamin C ascorbic acid as a preservative. Additionally, essential oils may contribute to changing the color.

  9. Vanessa Avatar
    Vanessa

    What kind of container would you use to store your homemade hand sanitizer?

  10. Christy Avatar
    Christy

    You can also pour bleach and water in a bottle and spray and wipe with that.

  11. Steve Avatar

    4 stars
    Vitamin D is an ACE2 promoter so I stopped taking my vit D megabomb pill in favor of reasonable sun exposure. ACE2 is cited as the entry point of the virus.

  12. Gail Avatar

    Please use essential oils with care. Any oils that contain phenol are toxic to cats. They may not show signs of toxicity immediately, but their body is unable to process the phenol so it builds up until reaching fatal levels. Heart breaking.

  13. Olivia Avatar

    5 stars
    I could only find 50% isopropyl alcohol. What would the alcohol aloe ratio be for the strongest hand sanitizer? Would you be able to tell me what the recipe for the stronger hand sanitizer is based on the 50% alcohol?

    1. Katie Wells Avatar

      50% alcohol won’t meet the CDC standards because you wouldn’t be able to increase it to 60% and it would further dilute by adding other ingredients. That said, the other ingredients could still be added and it could be another line of defense along with proper hand washing.

  14. Joanna Carroll Avatar
    Joanna Carroll

    I followed the recipe for the strongest hand sanitizer and used the aloe vera gel that you recommended by IQ natural. After I put it in the alcohol it became goopy and will not break up and dissolve in the alcohol, any suggestions? I already put my germ fighter drops in as well and I hate to have wasted it…

    I think I know the problem. I’m using 91% isopropyl alcohol. I think I should only be using 70%. That may be why the aloe vera coagulated.

    1. Alice Avatar

      I used 70% alcohol and got the same result. A goopy mix that wouldn’t dissolve and mix. Anyone know how I can salvage this and make it usable??

  15. Aniket Avatar

    Thanks a lot Katie. This is more useful than ever after the corona virus outbreak!

  16. Helen Clare Avatar
    Helen Clare

    Can vodka be used instead of rubbing alcohol, I have got some rubbing alcohol, but will run out soon, so I looked on Amazon to buy some more I was disgusted to see that the company I got it from had tripled the price, well to be fair all th supply are doing the same, so I was wondering if vodka could be used instead ?

      1. Helen Clare Avatar
        Helen Clare

        5 stars
        Thank you for your reply, I haven’t actually thanked you for the recipe, it’s very good, I had made it last year for when I was on holiday and added the glycerine, I didn’t like the glycerine in, so I just threw it away, (I don’t actually like hand sanitizer), but after the recent situation, I thought I’d try it again, so I left out the glycerine, and it’s really good, so Thank you again, I hope you and your family stay safe in these unsure times, I hope everyone stays safe all around the world ?, ?

  17. Jamie Avatar

    I just made the “strongest” hand sanitizer (germ destroyer, alcohol and aloe vera) without realizing its not the “kid safe” one. I used up all of my ingredients, lol – can i use it on my kids sometimes? Why is it unsafe for kids?

    1. Katie Wells Avatar

      There is a lot of debate about how much essential oils need to be diluted for use on kids and what ratios are safe. I followed the safest standards for the kid version but have used the stronger one on my own kids at times.

  18. Jess Avatar

    Found this on the World Health Organization’s site. Might help make a strong enough hand sanitizer to match the store bought ones. You can use an stronger Alcohol if you want to be sure it’s strong enough.
    • Isopropyl alcohol 75% (v/v), • Glycerol 1.45% (v/v), • Hydrogen peroxide 0.125% (v/v)
    Then add the other ingredients as well for your personal sanitizer.

  19. lisa garcia Avatar
    lisa garcia

    What oils (and amounts) can I use instead of germ destroyer EO since I do not have that? Hubby works in the medical field repairing equipment and I need this pretty fast!!

3.62 from 65 votes (56 ratings without comment)

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