Homemade Natural Hand Sanitizer (Alcohol-Free)

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 Homemade Natural Hand Sanitizer (Alcohol-Free)

Ever since I’ve embraced this new green lifestyle of mine, there are a few things that I really miss from my old life. Slowly, I’ve been finding ways to find natural alternatives, and a couple weeks ago I finally decided to make some homemade hand sanitizer. This was a big one for me because I used to use the store bought stuff like it was going out of style! I had it at home, I had the travel size one in my purse, and as a former school teacher, you better believe I had a big old bottle of that stuff right on my desk!

But once I started purging my home of the not-so-natural cleaning and personal care products, I sadly had to let go of my beloved hand sanitizer. Of course there’s no substitute for good hand washing, and nothing is more effective at killing germs than a good hand soap and some warm water. But for those times when you need some germ fighting power and you’re nowhere near a washroom, hand sanitizer really does come in handy!

What’s wrong with the store bought sanitizers?

As we discussed in my all natural antibacterial spray post, these products kill nearly all bacteria – good and bad. As effective as those store bought hand sanitizers may be at killing bacteria, they don’t discriminate between good and bad bacteria. Since the good bacteria protects our bodies from infection and helps it to fight off the bad bacteria, it’s a bit counterproductive to kill off those helpful good bacteria, isn’t it? 

Also, the main ingredient in these store bought products is ethyl alcohol – a minimum concentration of at least 60%. As much as I like using alcohol for cleaning and disinfecting, I really don’t like the idea of rubbing alcohol on my hands over and over again since it can be drying to the skin. Alcohol is also very toxic and can be deadly for young children, and with a 60% concentration, I definitely don’t want these hand sanitizers anywhere near my kiddos!

And have you checked the Environmental Working Group’s (EWG) data sheet on Purell Hand Sanitizer (the brand we used to use)? Not only does it have an overall score of 5 (I don’t like using anything with a score higher than 2 or 3), it contains about 10 other questionable ingredients, including artificial fragrance (EWG score of 8) and artificial colors, both of which I try to stay far away from.

So what’s the alternative?

Why, I’m so glad you asked! 😉 There are a ton of homemade versions floating around on the internet, so I kind of took a bit from here and there. The main ingredients we’ll be working with are aloe vera gel, witch hazel, and essential oils. I also added some vitamin E oil to act as a natural preservative and for some skin softening properties.

The witch hazel I used has 14% alcohol by volume. Some brands of witch hazel can have up to 70% alcohol, so look for one with a low alcohol concentration. You may also find one with no alcohol at all at a natural health food store, but I’m confortable with the small amount of alcohol in this one.

Homemade Natural Hand Sanitizer (Alcohol-Free)

Essential oils have anti-bacterial and anti-viral properties, so they’re a great (and necessary!) addition to a homemade hand sanitizer. For this recipe, I’m using tea tree oil and lavender essential oil. The tea tree oil is kind of a must, since it has very potent antimicrobial properties (use at least 0.5% concentration). The lavender oil helps mask the strong scent of the tea tree oil a bit, but it’s also very calming. Other oils you may want to experiment with include lemon, neroli, patchouli, peppermint, ylang ylang, clove, or pine – all of which have antiseptic properties.

Natural Hand Sanitizer
Homemade, alcohol-free version of commercial hand sanitizer, using the powers aloe vera, witch hazel, and essential oils.
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  1. 1 cup pure aloe vera gel (as pure as you can get)
  2. 1 tablespoon witch hazel
  3. 30 drops (1/4 tsp) tea tree oil
  4. 10 drops lavender oil (or essential oil of choice)
  5. 3-4 drops vitamin E oil (optional)
  1. In a small glass dish, add the essential oils and stir.
  2. Add the witch hazel and vitamin E oil and stir again.
  3. Add the aloe vera gel and mix very well.
  4. Using a funnel, pour the mixture into your container of choice.
  5. Shake well before using.
  1. The vitamin E oil helps to soften hands and will extend the shelf life up to 3-4 months. In either case, the sanitizer should be discarded after 6 months.
  2. This recipe filled 3 travel size (3 oz) squirt bottles. To fill just one 3 oz bottle, use 1/3 cup aloe vera, 1 teaspoon witch hazel, 10 drops tea tree oil, and 3 drops lavender oil.
Nature's Nurture http://naturesnurtureblog.com/

  • As with all products that contain essential oils, please keep in mind that some oils are not recommended for use while pregnant or breastfeeding, and others (like lavender) are known to mimic estrogen in the body and are not recommended for use with boys. So please, research the oils you wish to use before you add them to your recipe.
  • Before working with essential oils, keep in mind that you or a family member may be allergic to certain oils. It’s always a good idea to do a patch skin test by diluting one drop of essential oil in 1 tablespoon of olive oil and applying it to your arm. If there’s no reaction after 24 hours, then you’re good.
  • Although this recipe is safe for adults and young children, I wouldn’t use this (or any sanitizer) on children younger than 2 years of age.

Do you use hand sanitizer when you’re out and can’t wash your hands? What’s your favorite natural brand to use, or do you make your own?


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Sarah UmmYusuf is a former school teacher turned stay-at-home wife and mama with a passion for all things simple, natural, and homemade. She loves the natural world, and believes the solutions to many of the world’s ailments lie in nature. Her blog, , began as a way to document her family’s journey to a greener home, but has since become a thriving community and resource for those wishing to take small steps towards a more eco-friendly, natural and sustainable lifestyle. Follow her on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and Pinterest.

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  1. Olivia says

    Just wondering if this recipe would work if I was to substitute the aloe vera gel with a lotion, like Aveeno baby fragrance free? I have a bunch I never used and thought it might work as far as consistency and to keep hands soft.

    • says

      Olivia, I’m not sure that would work. Aloe vera is an integral part of this recipe and really can’t be substituted with a lotion. It just wouldn’t have the same effects and the texture would be way off. It’s best to just use 100% aloe vera gel.

    • says

      Thanks for the link, Lacie. There’s so much conflicting information out there that its hard for a blogger to safely recommend one thing or another without fear of sharing incorrect and possibly harmful information. Personally, I love lavender and use it in my son’s products all the time, but felt the need to clarify the info that’s out there, just in case.

      Anyways, thanks again for the link. I’ll add it to the notes as well so other readers can see it and decide for themselves. :)

  2. cindy says

    Hi. I am new here and very excited about this site 😀 !! I go thru this stuff like I own stock in the companies, lol. I was just wondering if you have every had any tests or comparison by labs or self testing to verify that without alcohol it is still sanitizing the same, minus the drying out of the skin! Also, do you know how much the cost is say like per ounce?
    Sarah, I would also like to know about what permission would be needed to give out your recipes/ideas to friends, or like to post it on FB. I would also post your URL. Was just wondering. I see people post or put things on their websites, but may not give the credit where due.
    Thanks for your help in these matters, Cindy

    • says

      Hi Cindy and Welcome! I’m excited that you’re excited!! :)

      As for any tests, etc. I’m just going by the study that’s linked in the post (here it is again: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1360273/) that discusses some of tea tree oil’s antimicrobial and antiseptic properties. Just that information alone is enough to make me feel comfortable using it. And, I really have no idea how much it is per ounce – like no clue, lol 😉 If we converted all the measurements to ounces that would be a start though…

      And of course, you’re more than welcome to share anything you find here on the site. As long as my images aren’t altered and you include a link back to the post, it’s all fair game :-)

  3. Maryke says

    Thanks for the great recipe! Just wondering if I use aloe from my mature plant, will the alcohol in the witch hazel preserve the aloe? Is store bought aloe Vera gel treated or preserved somehow? Thanks for your help!!

    • says

      Fresh aloe vera gel from the plant will most likely shorten the shelf life of sanitizer. I would stick with a store bought version for this recipe.

  4. Shauna says

    Hi! I made your hand sanitizer a while back and LOVE how it does not dry out my skin and is not harsh! i wanted to make large batches for a school I use to work at (since they use the harsh stuff and one, it is really damaging their hands, and two, they use it on children). So I am excited to share this (I will include your info for credit). 😉 My question though is, will this work well with a pump? I would assume so but wanted to ask what you would recommend before I purchase anything. Thanks!

    • says

      That is awesome and thoughtful of you to make this for your school, Shauna! To be honest, I have no idea if/how this will do in a pump because I haven’t tried it. But I would love to hear how it goes if you do go ahead and try it in a pump!


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