Hand sanitizer is one of the most important products out there right now and something you should always have on you. However, hand sanitizer is no longer something you can guarantee you’ll be able to find in stores. Many people no longer feel comfortable leaving their house if they don’t have hand sanitizer in their bag. So, if you need hand sanitizer to keep yourself safe from germs, but can’t get your hands on any, what are you supposed to do? Like with many products we use often, you can make it on your own at home. This is perfect when all the hand sanitizer in your area is sold out, if you prefer having control over the products you put on your skin, or you’re just looking for a DIY activity to do in your free time.
Many of the ingredients you need to make natural hand sanitizer are things you likely have at home and the mixture is simple to whip up.
Whenever you make your own hand sanitizer, you need to include alcohol. You might try to experiment with other ingredients, but this is something you can’t substitute. Alcohol is what kills the germs on your hands and it also allows the solution to dry quickly. Isopropyl alcohol, or rubbing alcohol, can be found in large bottles at most grocery stores and drug stores if you don’t already have it in your medicine cabinet. John Frigo of Best Price Nutrition stresses the importance of using 99% rubbing alcohol, not any other type of alcohol, such as a drinking alcohol, for your hand sanitizer.
To get the gel consistency of hand sanitizer, mix your alcohol with aloe vera. Aloe can also help keep your hands soft, as alcohol can be extremely drying. You likely already have a bottle of aloe vera at home, but you can also find it in stores, especially during the summer. If you want something more natural and you have a green thumb, you might prefer using aloe taken straight from an aloe vera plant. This might be difficult if you need a larger amount of hand sanitizer, but if you only need a small batch, it’s a great way of keeping your hands clean with natural ingredients. For the perfect gel hand sanitizer, Canna Smack’s Kenia Taylor recommends mixing two parts alcohol to one part aloe.
The benefit of being able to make hand sanitizer on your own is that you can include whatever you want to make it yours. For example, many store-bought hand sanitizers are scented, which doesn’t work for everyone. While scents aren’t for everyone and they don’t make hand sanitizer more effective at killing germs, many people prefer a nice smell to cancel out the scent of alcohol. Turning your hand sanitizer into a scented one is simple, all you need is a few drops of essential oils.
To go beyond the aloe and alcohol recipe, Vanessa Thomas, CEO and Senior Chemist at Freelance Formulations shares some of the science behind hand sanitizer ingredients and what else you can mix with alcohol to create it. “For humectant/moisture glycerin or sorbitol can be added. Glycerin is a sugar alcohol derived from animal products, plants, or petroleum. Sorbitol is also sugar alcohol that is found naturally in berries like blackberries, raspberries, and strawberries, and other fruits such as apples, apricots, avocados, cherries, peaches and plums. To thicken the sanitizer into a texture you would add cellulose or guar gum. Guar gum is derived from the seed of the guar plant, Cyamopsis tetragonolobus. Cellulose is also derived from plants and is processed into a pulp and then extruded in the same ways that synthetic fibers like polyester or nylon are made.”
When most of us think of hand sanitizer, our minds immediately go to the gel type. You should always have this on you now, but that’s not all. Hand sanitizer can also be made into a spray and you can’t forget about sanitizing wipes, both of which can be hard to come by today. Autumn Grant from The Kind Poppy has experience making hand sanitizer sprays and wipes at home. Her hand sanitizer spray recipe calls for equal parts distilled water, witch hazel, and 99% isopropyl alcohol with 8-10 drops of tea tree oil. For sanitizing wipes, she advises to “Take pull-apart paper towels in a reusable container and fill the above spray solution into the container. Make sure the liquid is being absorbed by the paper towels and is fully saturated.”