Some commercial hand sanitizer comprises ingredients as disgusting as the germs from which they protect you. Why not make your hand sanitizer from the ingredients you choose? This is an amazing project for both children and adults, as the project can be extended to include hygiene and disinfection discussion.

Naturally, it kills germs, and you’ll be saving money making your own. Plus, learning how to make hand sanitizer can be a godsend in times like these when disinfecting items are out of stock virtually everywhere.

Why Essential Oils in Hand Sanitizer

Traditional hand sanitizer is filled with things like sodium lauryl sulfate, parabens, and synthetic fragrance that can wreak havoc from the skin to hormones. But as if that wasn’t bad enough, it’s also the antibacterial agent, triclosan. You have to think about it.

Triclosan is so powerful that up to 99.9 percent of germs can be destroyed. But that.1% of the left-handed bacteria will then reproduce and transfer their antibiotic resistance to offspring, quickly morphing into what is considered a “superbug.” That’s why triclosan has been prohibited in hand soaps, body washes, and industrial disinfectants.

The essential oil you use can also protect you against germs, in addition to adding fragrance to your hand sanitizer. Thyme and clove oil, for example, have antimicrobial properties. If you are using antimicrobial oils, use just one or two drops, as these oils appear to be very strong and can irritate your skin.

Other oils, including chamomile or Lavender, can help soothe your skin. Tea tree oil has antimicrobial properties. A few drops may be added to the recipe, but it is important to remember that even though it is diluted, many people are sensitive to this oil.

Another reason for Essential oil is that alcohol is hard on the skin, which is why most commercial hand sanitizers include humectants to replenish the lost moisture. Hopefully, while your home-made hand sanitizer will consist of glycerin, aloe vera, or some other humectant to seal in moisture, essential oils will also help replenish the missing nutrients and soothe dry, chapped skin.

How It Works

Research has shown that sanitizers with an alcohol concentration of 60–95 percent are more efficient in eliminating germs than those with a lower alcohol concentration or non-alcoholic hand sanitizers. (R)

And, according to the CDC, hand sanitizers with less than 60% alcohol do not work on all kinds of germs, and if they do work, they do merely suppress germ growth instead of destroying them outright.

Although these studies were done using store-bought sanitizers, it will effectively clean and disinfect hands as long as your home-made sanitizer contains the required concentration of alcohol.

Natural Ingredients


Alcohol for its germ-killing properties is important in this recipe. It is a natural disinfectant and is used in wound care regularly. The alcohol disperses bacteria through a denaturation cycle. This breaks down the membranes of the cells of the bacteria and afterward dies off.

For a solution to be considered active for disinfection, a minimum level of 70 percent alcohol is required, while 70 percent is best. The downside to using alcohol is it will dry up on the skin. Combining this with a moisturizer like an aloe vera will help to fix that.

Aloe vera gel

Aloe vera gel has relaxing properties which make it perfect for skin that is irritated. It is one of the best natural humidifiers that contains vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. The gel is derived from the aloe vera leaf inside. It can be used directly from the factory or bought from a retailer with confidence.

Vegetable Glycerine

Vegetable Glycerine in this recycle serves as a skin barrier. It helps lock in moisture and, when combining essential oils in DIY recipes, is a great natural emulsifier. For its ability to hydrate and moisturize the skin, vegetable glycerin is ideal in skincare recipes.

Essential Oils to Add

Cinnamon Essential Oil

The antibacterial activity against Gram-positive and Gram-negative bacteria associated with human infectious diseases and the deterioration of food or cosmetics is one of the most well-established properties of cinnamon extracts, essential oils, and their components.

Tea Tree Essential Oil

Tea tree oil contains a variety of compounds that have been shown to destroy some bacteria, viruses, and fungi, including terpinen-4-ol. Such germ-fighting properties make tea tree oil a respected natural remedy to treat bacterial and fungal skin infections, to prevent infection, and to facilitate healing.

Oregano Essential Oil

Oregano oil is one of the most effective natural antibacterial oils since it contains two antibacterial and antifungal compounds, carvacrol and thymol. Yes, evidence indicates that oregano oil is effective against various clinical bacterial species, including Escherichia coli (E. coli) and Pseudomonas aeruginosa.


Rosemary Essential Oil has anti-microbial, antibacterial, astringent, antioxidant and tonic properties, that are useful in skincare products intended to soothe or even treat dry or oily skin, eczema, inflammation, and acne. Effective for all skin types, soaps, face washes, face masks, moisturizers, and creams may be applied to this rejuvenating oil to achieve firm and hydrated skin that appears to have a healthy glow and clear of undesirable marks.


Thyme is believed to have antibacterial, insecticidal properties, and perhaps antifungal. Thyme and thymol, including salmonella, Staphylococcus aureus, and Helicobacter pylori, have been shown to have antibacterial activity against bacterium.


Clove oil has been shown to have a wide variety of antimicrobial activities, including major human pathogens such as Staphylococcus aureus, Pseudomonas aeruginosa and Escherichia coli.


DIY Hand Sanitizer with Essential Oils

Cook Time: 2 minutes

Total Time: 3 minutes


  • bowl
  • spoon


  • 2 tablespoons rubbing alcohol at least 70%
  • 1 tablespoon aloe vera gel
  • 2 teaspoons vegetable glycerin
  • 4 drops Tea Tree Essential Oil
  • 3 drops Lemon Essential Oil
  • 3 drops Lavender Essential Oil
  • 2 oz flip-top container


  • Combine alcohol, vegetable glycerin, and aloe vera gel in a shallow bowl
  • Mix properly to combine.
  • Add the essential oils and stir very well.
  • Use a funnel to pour into a container or bottle.


More Hand Sanitizer Essential Oil Combinations

  • 5 drops Purification, 5 drops Lemon
  • 3 drops Cinnamon, 3 drops Eucalyptus Radiata, 4 drops Lemon
  • 3 drops Lavender, 4 drops Spearmint, 3 drops Bergamot
  • 5 drops Thieves, 5 drops Tea Tree



Alcohol is the main ingredient in hand sanitizer, so the aloe vera gel can be substituted. The aloe gel helps to shield the hands from the drying effects of alcohol. It is, essentially, a humectant. It means holding in moisture helps. Other humectants that may be used as an alternative to aloe include glycerin or hand lotion.

However, keeping the alcohol in the final product at least 70 percent is still necessary. If you can’t find alcohol, washing your hands with soap and water is the safest choice, rather than attempting a home-made recipe for a hand sanitizer.

DIY Hand Sanitizer FAQS

My hand sanitizer is too thick and is not going to go into my bottle.

Add more alcohol (rubbing alcohol) until the consistency becomes more pourable.

Can I use fresh aloe vera gel?

Sure, you can, but the solution will have to be kept in the fridge and used within 1-2 weeks.

How long will this last?

That depends on the ingredients you offer.

If you use all the ingredients that are shelf-stable (and don’t add any water), it should last around a year. Most store-purchased aloe vera gel lasts about 2 years; glycerin lasts about 4-6 years and witch hazel 4-5 years. Even the dilution with alcohol and essential oils of certain ingredients does not significantly reduce their shelf life.

If you use fresh aloe vera gel or wash your recipe down with water, it’s going to go much faster. Store in the fridge and use it in 2 weeks.

How should I store my hand sanitizer?

I use mine fast, so I never bother to cool it down. If you’re planning to make enough hand sanitizer to last long, I will store the extra in the refrigerator before it’s needed, just to be safe.

How to use hand sanitizer

When using a hand sanitizer, two things to be mindful of are that you need to rub it onto your skin until your hands are dry. And if your hands are oily or dirty, you should first wash them with water and soap.

Here are some tips for using of hand sanitizers.

  • Apply the sanitizer to the palm.
  • Place your palms firmly together.
  • Continue to rub for 30-60 seconds or until the hands are dry. It can take at least 60 seconds or more to destroy most germs.

The bottom line

Hand sanitizer is a convenient, on-the-gogo way to help avoid bacteria spread when there is no soap and water. Hand sanitizers with over 70% alcohol can help to keep you healthy and reduce the spread of the novel coronavirus.

If you’re having trouble locating a hand sanitizer in your local stores and there’s no hand-washing available, you can take measures to make your own. Just a few ingredients are required, such as rubbing alcohol, aloe vera gel, and essential oil.

While hand sanitizers can be an effective way to get rid of germs, health authorities also recommend hand-washing to keep your hands free of disease-causing viruses and other bacteria whenever possible.