With the shortage in stores, here is a way to make your own Hand Sanitizer!
How It Works
The active ingredient in this hand sanitizer recipe is the alcohol, which needs to comprise at least 60% of the product in order to be an effective disinfectant. The recipe calls for 99% isopropyl alcohol (rubbing alcohol) or ethanol (grain alcohol, most commonly available at 90%-95%). Please don’t use any other types of alcohol (e.g., methanol, butanol), as they are toxic. Also, if you use a product that contains a lower percentage of alcohol (e.g., 70% alcohol) then you need to increase the amount of alcohol in the recipe or it won’t be as effective.
Essential Oils in Hand Sanitizer
Beyond instilling fragrance to your hand sanitizer, the essential oil you choose may also help protect you against germs. For example, thyme and clove oil have antimicrobial properties. If you are using antimicrobial oils, only use a drop or two, since these oils tend to be very powerful and might irritate your skin. Other oils, such as lavender or chamomile, may help soothe your skin.
Antiviral Essential Oils
You can add essential oils to increase hand sanitizer effectiveness against viruses. For example, studies have shown the following essential oils work against the flu virus:
Red thyme oil
Cinnamon leaf oil
Tea tree oil
Lemon balm (also effective against avian influenza or bird flu)
Myrrh is another essential oil with antibacterial and antiviral properties. Cinnamon, wild carrot, eucalyptus, and rosemary oils are effective against many Gram-positive and Gram-negative bacteria, including some antibiotic resistant strains. A blend of cinnamon, wild carrot, clove, and oregano oils acts against Candida albicans (yeast).
Hand Sanitizer Recipe
- 2/3 cup 99 percent rubbing alcohol (isopropyl alcohol) or ethanol
- 1/3 cup Aloe Vera Gel (If unable to find aloe vera, glycerin can be used as a substitute)
- 3 drops Tea Tree Oil
- 3 drops Lavender Essential Oil
- 3 drops Lemon Essential Oil
In a small/nonreactive bowl, combine alcohol and aloe vera gel until well mixed (for thicker sanitizer, add an additional tablespoon of aloe vera gel), then stir in tea tree, lavender and lemon oils. Stir well to combine after each drop.
Use a funnel to move your sanitizer to a glass bottle with a spray or pump top. Leftover sanitizer can be kept at room temperature in a tightly sealed jar/bottle.
Effectiveness of Hand Sanitizer
There are different types of hand sanitizers. This DIY produces an alcohol-based hand sanitizer. According to the World Health Organization’s List of Essential Medicines, alcohol-based hand sanitizer is among the safest and most effective medicines. Hand sanitizer is most effective when it contains between 60% and 95% alcohol. It kills 99.99% of non-spore forming bacteria in under 30 seconds. Alcohol kills antibiotic-resistant bacteria, TB bacteria, enveloped viruses (e.g., flu, common cold, HIV, Coronavirus), but it does not protect against the rabies virus. It kills most types of fungi. Alcohol-based hand sanitizer is not effective against spores. So, it should not be used as a substitute for hand washing when spores are a concern (e.g., after using the toilet).
Use Hand Sanitizer Properly
No product works unless you use it correctly!
- Apply hand sanitizer to exposed skin surfaces. Be sure to get between fingers, under fingernails, around the thumbs, and around the wrists.
- Thoroughly rub the product into skin for 30 seconds and allow it to air dry.
DISCLAIMER: This hand sanitizer is not a substitute for proper hand washing. And while this home remedy contains commonly-accepted natural antiviral ingredients, it has never been tested in a lab to determine its efficacy. As always, check with your health care professional before using any home remedy on you or your family.
- Brochot, A., Guilbot, A., Haddioui, L, Roques, C. (2017). “Antibacterial, antifungal, and antiviral effects of three essential oil blends.” MicrobiologyOpen. 2017 Aug; 6(4):e00459. doi:10.1002/mbo3.459
- Sandora, T.J.; Shih, M.C.; Goldmann, D.A. (June 2008). “Reducing absenteeism from gastrointestinal and respiratory illness in elementary school students: A randomized, controlled trial of an infection-control intervention”. Pediatrics. 121 (6): e1555–62. doi:10.1542/peds.2007-2597
- Trampuz, Andrej; Widmer, Andreas F. (2004). “Hand Hygiene: A Frequently Missed Lifesaving Opportunity During Patient Care“. Mayo Clinic Proceedings. 79 (1): 109–16. doi:10.4065/79.1.109
- World Health Organization (2019). World Health Organization Model List of Essential Medicines: 21st List 2019. Geneva: World Health Organization.
- Wu, S.; Patel, K.B.; Booth, L.J., et al. (2010). “Protective essential oil attentuates influenze virus infection: An in vitro study in MDCK cells.” BMC Complement Altern Med. 2010; 10:69. doi:10.1186/1472-6882-10-69