Health & Wellness

How to Make Your Own DIY Hand Sanitizer

I hope we’ve all heard the message by now. The most effective thing you can do to avoid catching a virus, including the novel coronavirus, is to wash your hands. Wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Avoid touching your face as much as possible. Cough into your elbow (the kids call it their germ pocket!), and stay home when you’re sick.

Yes, hand washing is most effective, but if you don’t have ready access to soap and water, then hand sanitizer is an acceptable substitute. One problem though… Good luck finding any in your local drug store or for a reasonable price online.

But did you know that hand sanitizer is basically just two ingredients and is surprisingly easy to make your own? All you need is isopropyl alcohol (old-fashioned rubbing alcohol) and aloe vera gel. The isopropyl alcohol breaks down the lipid envelope surrounding the virus to destroy it, and the aloe vera gel carries the alcohol and helps protect your skin from drying out.

I already had a bottle of rubbing alcohol under the sink that I use for removing temporary tattoos, removing sticker residue, and fixing my broken make-up pans. I also had aloe vera gel left over from last summer when hubby burned the back of his neck. Normally I would prefer to use aloe vera gel without the unnecessary colouring, but the green stuff is what I had so that’s what I used.

In order for your homemade hand sanitizer to be effective at killing the COVID-19 coronavirus as well as other cold and flu viruses, the CDC recommends that it contain at least 60% alcohol. This is why DIY recipes with vodka aren’t likely to be effective – they’re not strong enough. Besides which, what a waste of good vodka! Instead, use isopropyl alcohol containing 90% alcohol or higher.

The general ratio is two parts isopropyl alcohol to one part aloe vera gel. At that ratio, my 99% isopropyl alcohol will make a sanitizer with around 65% alcohol. If you’re using 90% isopropyl alcohol, your finished product will contain about 60% alcohol.

For this batch, I poured 2/3 cup of isopropyl alcohol into a medium cup, then added 1/3 cup aloe vera gel and mixed well. I find a hand blender is the quickest and easiest way to mix the alcohol and aloe vera together.

You can also add 5-6 drops of essential oil for a slightly more pleasant scent, though let’s be honest it will still smell like rubbing alcohol. Choose gentle essential oils like lavender, chamomile, or sweet orange.

Now you can refill your old sanitizer bottle or pour some in a small travel bottle like this one to carry with you.

Use your homemade hand sanitizer just like you’d use store-bought sanitizer. Pour out a generous dollop and rub vigorously all over your hands, front and back, until dry. 

I keep mine in my purse for times when my kids or I don’t have access to a sink to wash our hands. We took public transit earlier this week, and I was really glad I had this in my purse after holding on to the poles that thousands of other people had been touching all day!

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