Updated in July 2020
Hand sanitizer, while not as effective as proper handwashing with soap and water is useful and nonetheless.
The recipe in this post is one our family has used for several years. Not everyone can use or tolerate alcohol-based hand sanitizer and may need a safe alternative with natural ingredients.
This formula does not contain any alcohol and there is no scientific proof that this formula will prevent illness.
If you are looking for an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol by volume, as recommended, you can find my recipe here.
Nothing, even store-bought, commercially available sanitizers, will substitute for proper handwashing with soap and water. All hand sanitizers are meant as a stop-gap measure to be used only in the event that there is no opportunity for proper handwashing with soap.
Be sure to never rely on the use of hand sanitizers alone! According to the FDA, no hand sanitizer on the market is allowed to make any antiviral claims. To learn more about proper handwashing techniques please consult the CDC website.
Over the last number of years, hand sanitizers have become a staple in purses and classrooms for those times when a sink is not readily available for proper handwashing.
It’s one of those convenience items we have grown used to and rely upon frequently.
But while I appreciate its portability and ease of use, commercially available hand sanitizer products can contain troubling ingredients like triclosan, alcohol, and irritating fragrances. After reading all that I decided that regular commercially available hand sanitizers were not the thing for my family.
I just knew there had to be a better way to clean my hands in a pinch without worrisome chemicals. So I set out to create a recipe that works well and is easy on the hands.
And today, I would like to share with you how to make hand sanitizer without any of the potentially troublesome ingredients mentioned above.
I initially turned to Pinterest for inspiration and found a number of recipes that sounded promising. But many of them yielded way too little for use at our house and quite a few still contained the dreaded rubbing alcohol. So I set out to create my own.
After a little trial and error, today’s recipe was the result and we’ve been putting it to good use at our house ever since.
Over time this recipe has become our favorite home remedy for all kinds of little irritations. More on that below.
As with all my skin and body care recipes I aim to use only the most skin-friendly ingredients. Each one of them plays an important role, as you will see in a moment.
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HOW TO MAKE HAND SANITIZER WITHOUT ALCOHOL
equipment needed for Diy Hand sanitizer gel:
Hand sanitizer ingredients:
Before I move on to the actual recipe I would like to give you some insight on why I chose these specific ingredients. Every one of them plays an important role, as you will see in a moment.
ALOE VERA GEL
Aloe vera is a trusted and proven skincare ingredient that has been used for centuries. Aloe vera has well documented curative, therapeutic, and antibacterial properties that make it a perfect base for this gel-based hand sanitizer recipe.
Its common uses include, but are not limited to soothing sunburns and insect bites, relieve itching, and chafing. It is well tolerated and readily available. You can read up on its many uses as well as actual documentation and research findings at the National Institute of Health website.
I always keep an aloe vera plant of hand. They are easy to grow, look lovely, even fairly cat-proof! And if you have a scrape or burn, you can just cut a leaf off and squeeze the gel from inside to apply directly on your skin. It doesn’t get any more natural than that!
This recipe will work with freshly made aloe vera gel. Just make sure you store it in the refrigerator and use it up within two weeks.
The North American Virginian Witch Hazel (Hamamelis Virginiana) plant’s bark and leaves yield a strong antioxidant and astringent, which also has mild disinfectant properties.
In use for centuries, witch hazel is frequently applied as a remedy for acne, psoriasis, eczema, aftershave treatments, ingrown nails, cracked or blistered skin, and insect bites.
Unlike rubbing alcohol, which tends to be very drying to the skin, witch hazel is soothing. It also aids the even dispersal of ingredients in this and other recipes. You can use witch hazel as a gentle skin toner all on its own.
And did you know it is the main ingredient in most hemorrhoid remedies? A very versatile ingredient indeed! We always have some on hand at our house.
Adding as many moisturizing ingredients as possible was important for this recipe. If your poor hands are rough and dry, you will really appreciate added moisture. Jojoba oil fits the bill perfectly.
A relatively new commercial crop, jojoba oil is extracted from the seeds of the evergreen Simmondsia Chinensis shrub native to the Southwest and North Western Mexico.
Like aloe vera and witch hazel, jojoba is a star all on its own, with skin benefits and properties that include moisturizing, antibacterial, antioxidant, non-comedogenic, hypoallergenic, oil-controlling, wound healing, scar diminishing, dry skin therapy, sunburns, fine lines, and wrinkles…
Plain jojoba oil also gently removes eye makeup and works well for the oil cleansing method.
You can substitute glycerine or vitamin E oil for jojoba oil.
The final ingredient adds yet more antibacterial action and some pleasant all-natural scent.
A number of different essential oils have been used in folk medicine and are believed to have antibacterial, antifungal as well as antiviral properties. Slowly, over time, more and more studies are emerging that indeed confirm those properties, although more are definitely needed.
Those oils include tea tree (melaleuca), lavender, lemongrass, eucalyptus, peppermint, orange, lemon citronella, and geranium. One version of this recipe uses a couple of blends (Thieves and purification) that include many of the oils mentioned here. Using blends is not a must and you can use single oils in combination without any problem.
Whenever you use essential oils, be sure to use only high-quality oils. To help you find a quality, I put together a buying guide that includes a list of reputable sources for pure oils.
HAND SANITIZER RECIPE:
Combine the following ingredients in a bowl:
- 1 cup pure organic aloe vera gel
- 1/4 cup witch hazel
- 1 tsp jojoba oil or glycerine
- a total of 15-20 drops of essential oils of your choice: a combination of lemon, lavender & thieves (5 drops each) or tea tree, thieves and purification (5 drops each)
The combination of tea tree, Thieves, and Purification is the one we use at our house. See below what other uses we have found for it.
If you don’t have Thieves oil or Purification on hand, simply use 10-15 drops of tea tree oil.
Gently stir until fully combined. The mixture will be a smooth gel and take on a white tinge.
After all of the ingredients are thoroughly mixed and combined, fill the hand sanitizer into a pump dispenser or several small reusable silicone tubes. This recipe makes exactly the right amount to fill a tall quilted jelly mason jar.
Store any unused mixture in a glass jar in the fridge.
How to Use alcohol-free Hand Sanitizer
Squirt about a pea-size amount of your homemade hand sanitizer into your palm and rub in thoroughly until dry. A little goes a long way and it dries quickly. Keep a bottle in each bathroom.
This recipe also acts as a lovely moisturizer after washing your hands. I love using it that way to make sure my hands are extra clean. And be sure to always keep a little tube handy in your purse when you’re out and about and don’t have access to a sink.
While even frequent hand washing and using hand sanitizers is no guarantee that you won’t get sick this cold and flu season, it is one of the best methods for reducing your risk. And remember to always sneeze into your elbow or shoulder!
Helpful Hints and Suggestions:
- Mason jars fitted with a pump work best, because they have a wide mouth and are easy to fill.
- To fill a bottle with a narrower neck, put hand sanitizer mixture into a zip baggie, close the top completely, and cut a small hole in one of the bottom corners of the bag. This allows you to pipe the mixture into a smaller opening without making a mess. It’s just like piping frosting onto a cupcake!
- If you opt for citrus oils for your family, be sure not to store your hand sanitizer gel in plastic. Citrus oils will degrade plastic.
- Hand sanitizer makes a great gift at any time of the year! Just divide it up into several little personalized bottles for your friends.
- Don’t forget to pack your homemade hand sanitizer on your next camping trip! At our house, this formula has become a favorite remedy for bug bites, soothing minor burns, and irritations. We have even used it as a substitute for deodorant in a pinch.