Updated March 19th 2020.
Once again cold and flu season is in full swing. And right now the world is anxiously trying to get a handle on the Corona Virus or Covid-19 that originated from China. While hand sanitizer is not as effective as proper handwashing with soap and water in the face of this scary epidemic, it has its use nonetheless. Chances are that very few of us will face a deadly virus in our immediate future no matter how dire the news may sound, but we do encounter cold and flu bugs all the time.
Disclaimer: NOTHING, even store-bought, commercially available sanitizers, will substitute for proper handwashing with soap and water. 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.
If you are looking for alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol by volume, you can find my recipe here:
Over the last number of years, hand sanitizers have become a staple in purses 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 an effective hand sanitizer without any of the above-mentioned ingredients.
I 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. As a matter of fact, this recipe has become our favorite home remedy for anything from bug bites to minor burns and mild rashes. We would not dare go camping without it!
As with all my skin and body care recipes I aimed to use only the most skin-friendly ingredients. And each one of them plays an important role, as you will see in a moment.
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HOW TO MAKE YOUR OWN HAND SANITIZER WITHOUT ALCOHOL
Let’s start with the equipment needed:
Here are the ingredients:
- pure aloe vera gel – preferably the non-colored kind (skincare isle)*
- witch hazel
- jojoba oil or vitamin E oil
- high-quality essential oils – check out my essential oil buying guide here
*At this time, Aloe Vera Gel is nearly impossible to find anywhere. Here are some options:
If you have Aloe Vera plants at home, you can create your own gel as shown in this video. No Aloe plants? Substitute Castor Oil for the Aloe Vera Gel in this recipe. Castor Oil has a number of benefits that are very similar to those of Aloe. It is also slightly thicker than glycerine which helps with the gel consistency. Best of all, it is reasonably priced and still widely available. Both do have more of an oily consistency, which has a different feel than Aloe Vera which is on the watery side.
All of the ingredients listed here are generally available at stores like Walmart, drugstore chains and health food stores – unless there is a worldwide epidemic in progress. 🙁
Before I move on to the actual recipe I would like to share a little information on each ingredient and the role it plays in this recipe.
#1. 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. It’s 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 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!
#2. WITCH HAZEL
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.
#3. JOJOBA OIL
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. Check out these links if you are interested in learning more about the many skin benefits of jojoba as well as the history of use and how the oil is won.
Like aloe vera and witch hazel, jojoba is a star all on its own, with skin benefits and properties that include moisturizing, antibacterial, antioxidant, noncomedogenic, 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 oil cleansing.
#4. ESSENTIAL OILS
The final ingredient adds yet more antibacterial action and some pleasant all-natural scent. A number of different essential oils have antibacterial qualities such as tea tree (melaleuca), lavender, lemongrass, eucalyptus, peppermint, orange, lemon citronella, and geranium. In my recipe, I use a couple of blends as well (Thieves and Purification). The beauty is that you can create your very own personalized scent from a combination of any of the oils mentioned here! All that and no nasty chemical mystery fragrance. I have used many different brands of essential oils through the years, but have never found any that were better quality than Young Living’s essential oils. The choice is always up to you, of course, but they are definitely worth a try.
AND NOW ON TO THE RECIPE:
To make your own hand sanitizer simply combine in a bowl:
- 1 cup pure aloe vera gel
- 1/4 cup witch hazel
- 1 tsp jojoba oil
- a total of 10-15 drops of essential oils of your choice – lemon, lavender & thieves (5 drops each) or tea tree, thieves and purification (5 drops each)
Gently stir until fully combined. The mixture will be a smooth gel and take on a slight 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.
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 sneeze into your elbow or shoulder!
Helpful Hints and Suggestions:
As mentioned above, I love using mason jars fitted with a pump 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 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 as a simple and natural way to keep your hands clean, take the sting out of bug bites and soothes minor burns and irritations.
If you are looking for more homemade health and beauty recipes, be sure to check out these posts:
Stay healthy and safe this season and throughout the year!