How to Make Hand Sanitizer at Home: DIY Recipe
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The other day I went to Costco on another futile attempt to buy toilet paper. Of course they were out. Large signs at the entrance showed they were also out of hand sanitizer and sanitizing wipes. Bummer. I needed those things too.
After failed attempts to find hand sanitizer at my local grocery store, Home Depot, Menards, and Walgreens, I finally gave up on buying hand sanitizer. I couldn’t even find travel hand sanitizer.
“Can you make your own hand sanitizer?” I wondered aloud.
“Ask Google, Mommy,” said my eight year-old son from the back seat.
Of course! Why didn’t I think of that?
A quick search for ‘homemade hand sanitizer’ showed me how to get my hands on the sanitizer I needed. If you’re looking for a way to make your own hand sanitizer, here’s how to do it.
How to Make Homemade Hand Sanitizer
If you’re like most of the world right now, you’re stuck at home. When you do go out for groceries, gas or medicine, you want one thing with you – hand sanitizer.
We’re all wiping down everything these days. It’s crazy. One day, I think we’ll look back on this and laugh, but for now, we need to be vigilant about killing viruses on our hands, bags, door knobs and other surfaces we touch.
With everyone looking for hand sanitizer at the store or online (even Amazon is out of hand sanitizer), the best option may just be to get a hand sanitizer ingredients list and make your own.
If you have kids at home like we do, you can even do this with them (depending on their age). Think of it as science class, how to make hand sanitizer edition!
What ingredients do you need?
First things first, decide whether you want to know how to make hand sanitizer gel or homemade hand sanitizer spray, or both!
We’ll break out the hand sanitizer ingredients list for both below. If you’re looking for fun things to do today, and have the ingredients, you can start immediately.
Gel Hand Sanitizer Ingredients List
Making your own hand sanitizer requires just a few ingredients:
- Isopropyl (rubbing) alcohol with 70 percent alcohol by volume (Save the Tito’s for happy hour. Vodka and other spirits won’t work)
- Aloe Vera gel
- Lavender oil or lemon juice (if you want it to smell pretty)
However much you make, the key is to keep your ratio right. Use two portions of rubbing alcohol for every one portion of aloe vera.
This keeps the alcohol content of your hand sanitizer where it needs to be – at 60 percent or more.
Why does that matter?
Alcohol-based hand sanitizer has to have at least 60 percent alcohol to kill germs. Alcohol free hand sanitizer won’t do.
If you want to kill germs, you’ll need alcohol hand sanitizer.
Spray Hand Sanitizer Ingredients List
Fair warning; this hand sanitizer recipe is harder to make. It comes from the World Health Organization’s (WHO) recipe for making hand sanitizer.
Why learn how to make hand sanitizer spray? Homemade gel hand sanitizer is easier to make, but stickier.
If you want to go the gel route, keep reading and follow the hand sanitizer recipe below.
If you are feeling adventurous and really hate sticky hands, try the WHO’s recipe.
How do you make your own hand sanitizer?
Just follow this DIY hand sanitizer recipe!
- ¾ cup isopropyl alcohol (rubbing alcohol)
- ¼ cup aloe vera gel
- 10 drops of lavender oil or lemon juice (optional)
- Empty hand sanitizer holder or hand pump bottle
- Mixing bowl, spoon, whisk
1. Wipe down the surface of your counter where you’re making your DIY hand sanitizer with a diluted bleach solution.
2. Clean the bowl, spoon and whisk you’ll be using with hot, soapy water and dry thoroughly.
3. Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water.
4. Pour all the ingredients into a bowl. If you have a bowl with a spout, like a glass mixing bowl, this will make it easier for you to pour your homemade hand sanitizer into the holders.
5. Mix the ingredients together with a spoon. Then, beat them with a whisk until the mixture turns into a gel.
6. Pour the gel into a holder and label it ‘homemade hand sanitizer” so you and anyone else who uses it knows what it is.
Need more? Double it! Triple it! Just keep the proportions the same.
How to use hand sanitizer
This is pretty basic. Just pump or squirt a nickel or quarter-sized amount in the palm of your hand from your homemade hand sanitizer dispenser and rub it all over your hands.
Spread it over the tops and bottoms of your hands and over all your fingers. Wait for your hands to dry before touching anything.
What germs can hand sanitizer kill?
If you’ve been asking, ‘can hand sanitizer kill viruses?’ you’ll be happy to know the answer is yes.
Hand sanitizer can kill coronaviruses including COVID-19 and SARS-CoV-2. It kills a lot of other germs as well. It’s awesome, but it won’t kill everything.
These nasty bugs are too tough for hand sanitizer:
- Clostridium difficile (a.k.a., C. diff)
There are others, but let’s be honest. We’re all worried about coronavirus right now, and the CDC tells us that hand sanitizer, even homemade hand sanitizer, will kill it.
Will bleach kill coronavirus?
According to the CDC, unexpired household bleach is effective against coronaviruses when properly diluted.
This is great news, because it means you can cheaply and easily make a bleach spray to spray down the hard surfaces in your home and kill any coronavirus that might be living on them.
To make a diluted bleach sanitizing spray, mix:
- 4 teaspoons of bleach with one quart (4 cups) of water
- 5 tablespoons (1/3 cup) bleach per gallon of water
Wear gloves when cleaning and make sure you have good air flow (ventilation) so the bleach doesn’t hurt you in any way.
Test a small area of the surface first, especially if you’ve never used a bleach spray on it before, to make sure it doesn’t ruin the surface.
Hand Washing vs. Hand Sanitizer
In the debate over hand sanitizer vs. soap, scientific authorities have provided a clear answer.
The CDC, WHO and frankly, common sense, state that washing your hands thoroughly with soap and water for at least 25 seconds is the best way to kill coronavirus (and lots of other viruses) and stay healthy.
If soap and water aren’t available and your hands are not visibly dirty, use an alcohol- based hand sanitizer gel or spray.
The key is to make sure the hand sanitizer contains at least 60 percent alcohol.
If your hands are dirty, as in you can see dirt and grime on them, wash your hands with soap and water. Other times you want to wash your hands, as opposed to just using hand sanitizer include:
- After blowing your nose
- After using the bathroom
- Before eating or preparing food
- After touching an animal or pet (yes, this includes your dog and cat)
- Before and after providing bathroom or other routine care for a child or someone else who needs assistance
The big difference is between cleaning and disinfecting.
Cleaning, according to the CDC, is the removal of germs and dirt. It does NOT kill germs. However, by removing them, you reduce your risk of infection.
Disinfecting is using chemicals to kill germs. When you disinfect your hands, for example, you kill germs on them but don’t necessarily get them clean.
The CDC says the best way to clean surfaces of coronavirus is to wash them with soap and water and then to disinfect them.
What’s the bottom line? Wash your hands. Especially if they’re dirty. If you can’t wash your hands because you’re nowhere near soap and water, use hand sanitizer.
What to Know Before Trying to Make DIY Hand Sanitizer
Wash your hands!
(Are you getting tired of reading that yet?)
Make sure you have all the proper ingredients and that you follow the directions carefully. Take your time and do it right.
Finally, remember to wash your hands. It’s always better than hand sanitizer.
If you went out to the store looking for Purell hand sanitizer and like so many of the rest of us, couldn’t find any, don’t fear.
As you now know, you can make your own hand sanitizer at home. You don’t need much more than a few simple ingredients you can buy online.
Just remember to wash your hands! It’s always the first and best option, and should be done before you make your DIY hand sanitizer recipe.
Stay safe out there and let us know how this recipe works for you.
How often do you wash your hands? Are you able to find hand sanitizer in your area? What else are you doing to stay healthy?
John is the founder of Frugal Rules, a dad, husband and veteran of the financial services industry whose writing has been featured in Forbes, CNBC, Yahoo Finance and more.
Passionate about helping people learn from his mistakes, John shares financial tools and tips to help you enjoy the freedom that comes from living frugally. One of his favorite tools is Personal Capital , which he used to plan for retirement and keep track of his finances in less than 15 minutes each month.
Another one of John's passions is helping people save $80 per month by axing their expensive cable subscriptions and replacing them with more affordable ones, like Hulu with Live TV.
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