7 Things You Should Know Before Making Your Own Hand Sanitizer at Home

Though it is easy to make homemade hand sanitizer, should you?
Donovan Alexander

COVID-19 has sent shockwaves around the world, bringing society to a complete halt. This virus initially caused panic, causing people around the world to purchase in bulk necessities like toilet paper (You've seen the memes), water, and non-perishable foods.

Even more so, hand sanitizers have been flying off the shelves, making it very difficult to get your hands on a bottle. Even more so, as we mentioned in previous articles, not every hand sanitizer is created equally, with some iterations not being as productive as you think. According to the CDC and World Health Organization, hand sanitizer needs to be at least 60% alcohol at the very least to kill any bacteria and viruses effectively. 

This is important. With the current shortage of hand sanitizers across the globe, people are looking to make their own DIY hand sanitizers. There is a healthy amount of hand sanitizer recipes out there on the web; however, not every recipe is made equally or is even that safe. If you are looking to make your hand sanitizer for yourself or the people around you, today, you are in luck.


As you probably guessed by the title, today we are going to walk you through the process of creating your DIY hand sanitizer, what ingredients you should use and why they are important, and if you attempt making your own homebrew.

1. The best way to keep your hands clean is to wash them

This seems to be a little counterintuitive in an article about hand sanitizer. Yet, washing your hands can not be stressed enough, and how impactful it can be to your health.

According to both the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization, simply washing your hands is the best way to keep your hands clean. However, as you have probably learned recently, there is a certain finesse with washing your hands that makes the process manageable. So what is the best way to wash your hands? 

Cleaning your hands regularly, after you go outside, and after you go to the restroom are some of the best ways to protect against infection.

Wet your hands, apply soap, lather up, and wash for 20 seconds. Singing the Happy Birthday song while washing your hands is a great way to measure the time. Though basic, these steps are crucial for protecting your health. Aside from just COVID-19, handwashing helps prevent the spread of a wide variety of pathogens, food-borne diseases like E.coli, and even flesh-eating bugs. 

According to the CDC, washing your hands reduces respiratory illnesses, like colds, in the general population by 16-21%, absenteeism due to gastrointestinal disease in school children by 29-57%, and even diarrheal disease in people with weakened immune systems by 58%. To put this into perspective, about 1.8 million children under the age of 5 each year from diarrheal diseases and pneumonia, a number that can be reduced by proper hygiene.  

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2. Hand Sanitizer is supposed to be used when washing your hands is not an option

7 Things You Should Know Before Making Your Own Hand Sanitizer at Home
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As mentioned above, hand sanitizer is recommended for use, when you have no place to wash your hands properly. Do not go around lathering your hands, or any other body parts in hand sanitizer, simply because you can.

Not only is it counterproductive, but it can be dangerous. Bring hand sanitizer when you are on the go. As mentioned by Neha Nanda, medical director of infection prevention and antimicrobial stewardship for Keck Medicine of the University of Southern California, "Hand sanitizer can be more portable and accessible when people are on the go, which can increase the number of times they can disinfect their hands. This can help reduce the likelihood of transmitting viruses." 

Doctors do prefer soap and water over hand sanitizers, as it is considered to be more effective at killing specific viruses and bacteria that are detrimental to your health. Niket Sonpal, a New York-based internist, gastroenterologist, and adjunct professor at Touro College, explains this perfectly in an article for Allure stating, "Viruses are most effectively killed and removed from hands with soap and water:"

7 Things You Should Know Before Making Your Own Hand Sanitizer at Home
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"The consensus between the CDC and medical professionals alike is that the gold standard for maintaining hand hygiene is proper and consistent washing of the hands. Hand sanitizer may kill viruses and certain bacteria, but it does not 'clean' your hands as soap and water do. Sanitizer doesn't remove actual dirt and debris. Soap kills germs, binds them, and helps physically remove them, with the water, off your skin, and down the drain." 

If you want to learn more about the effectiveness of handwashing vs hand sanitizer, stop by the CDC for more information. Another thing to consider is that hand sanitizers may not be as effective when hands are visibly dirty or greasy. As the CDC explains, "Many studies show that hand sanitizers work well in clinical settings like hospitals, where hands come into contact with germs but generally are not heavily soiled or greasy. 

"Some data also show that hand sanitizers may work well against certain types of germs on slightly soiled hands. However, hands may become very greasy or soiled in community settings, such as after people handle food, play sports, work in the garden, or go camping or fishing."

3. If you are going to make hand sanitizer, use a reliable resource  

If you are going to go on and make your own hand sanitizer, and want to find another recipe outside what is recommended in this article, we recommend picking a viable and reliable source. There are a few health researchers, health institutions, who have shared DIY hand sanitizer recipes. Avoid any sensationalized recipes that call for ingredients that seem unsafe or ineffective. We recommend checking out the World Health Organization and the CDC for an in-depth look at hand sanitizer DIY best practices.     

4. The right ingredients, tools, and proportions are everything 

7 Things You Should Know Before Making Your Own Hand Sanitizer at Home
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Just like baking or cooking, the right ingredients are everything. Even more so, the tools that you use create your DIY hand sanitizer, and to measure the different ingredients are equally important. Shared by Healthline, Jagdish Khubchandani, Ph.D., associate professor of health science at Ball State University, and health institutions around the world, the following DIY is recommended and is open to slight variations:

  • 2 parts isopropyl alcohol or ethanol (91–99 percent alcohol)
  • 1 part aloe vera gel
  • a few drops of clove, eucalyptus, peppermint, or other essential oil

Now, do not just throw all of the ingredients into a bowl and call it a day. The process of making your hand sanitizer is easy but requires the proper proportions and a little patience. Most importantly, for your DIY hand sanitizer to be an effective germ destroying tool, it needs to have the right proportions of alcohol. Recipes call for a 2:1 proportion of alcohol to aloe vera as this keeps the alcohol content to around 60%.  

Any hand sanitizer needs to have at least 60% of alcohol content to kill most germs. If you are looking to make a much larger batch of hand sanitizer, the World Health Organization has a great recipe. 

  • isopropyl alcohol or ethanol
  • hydrogen peroxide
  • glycerol
  • sterile distilled or boiled cold water

5. Make your hand sanitizer the right way 

Now that you have all your ingredients together, you can go ahead and make your hand sanitizer. However, we have a few pointers. To do all of this, you are going to need a mixing bowl, sterilized mixing utensils, a clean funnel, and a thoroughly washed and dried bottle with a resealable lid or pump to store sanitizer. Simply mix the properly recommended amounts of hand sanitizer ingredients, funneling them in a properly labeled bottle. Some recipes recommend letting your formula sit for about 72 hours

When making your homemade sanitizer, make sure that you make your hand sanitizer in a clean space, disinfecting your table or countertop beforehand. Be sure to wash your hands thoroughly, not touching your solution before it is ready. And when mixing your materials, make sure you take the time to mix everything properly. 

6. What about alcohol? 

We are talking about booze. You may have seen a few people around the internet use or even recommend ethanol/drinking alcohol or their DIY sanitizer. This can be a viable option; nevertheless, as mentioned above, potency is everything. The alcohol, in this case, needs to be at least 180 proof since you will be mixing it with aloe, which in turn decreases the ethanol's potency. That 80 proof alcohol vodka, or 40% alcohol, you have sitting on your desk is not going to cut it. 

7. Should I make my own hand sanitizer?

7 Things You Should Know Before Making Your Own Hand Sanitizer at Home
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Yes and no. As stressed in this article by the CDC and the World Health Organization, washing your hands is a far more effective means of keeping you healthy. Hand sanitizer should be used only when necessary. Even more so, homemade sanitizer should only be created in the most desperate of situations. Using the wrong recipe of proportions can be dangerous, leading to skin irritation, injury, or burns or even exposure to hazardous chemicals via inhalation. If you really are going to make your DIY hand sanitizer, please tread cautiously.