Most hand sanitizers contain harsh chemicals that are drying to the skin and smell very strong. Make your own natural hand sanitizer with essential oils!
Wouldn’t it be great if we lived in a world without germs?
Just imagine…No spoiled food. No common cold. No viruses and bacteria at every corner waiting to attack any living thing in sight.
Disease would be eradicated, and people would be healthy!
Or would they?
Utopian dreams aside, we of course know that a world without germs wouldn’t be a world at all…at least not one that would sustain any sign of life.
So love them or hate them, germs are a necessary part of life, and we wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for those smart little buggers.
The only problem?
As beneficial as they are to life on this planet, sometimes they can be a nuisance, or an unwelcome (even deadly!) invader. So we have to take precautions and protect ourselves from the bad germs that can actually harm us.
Super simple…just wash up! Plain soap and water are more than enough to kill the “bad” germs, but gentle enough to not bother the “good” germs that we actually need.
But sometimes? Sometimes you just don’t have those extra few minutes it takes to drop what you’re doing, run to the bathroom, and give your hands a good wash and scrub in the sink.
When I was a teacher, with 20 kids in my class, and no sink in our classroom, I couldn’t just walk down the hall whenever I needed to wash off the gooey, sticky, germ-laden gunk that managed to populate my hands at any given time of day – par for the course when you’re working with a bunch of 8 year olds. 😉 And forget about cold and flu season!
So in comes hand sanitizer to the rescue!
That stuff rocks, it really does. But I’ve had a love/hate relationship with it since forever. It’s super useful in places with lots of people and lots more germs being passed around, like schools, hospitals, or those carts at the grocery store that never, ever get cleaned. <shudder>
But here’s the deal…
Hand sanitizer has such a strong, harsh smell that would have me running to crack open a window every time I used it.
And the main ingredient in these store bought products is ethyl alcohol, and require a minimum concentration of at least 60% in order to be effective at killing all those germs. As much as I like using alcohol for cleaning and disinfecting, I really don’t like the idea of rubbing so much of it on my hands over and over again since it can be very drying and irritating 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 the ingredients list doesn’t stop at alcohol. It also contains a few other questionable ingredients, including artificial fragrance, which comes with it’s own laundry list of health concerns.
What’s the alternative?
When I looked for a natural hand sanitizer on the market, most of them still used the standard 60% alcohol formulation, although they had added moisturizers to counteract the drying effects. I only found one brand, Clean Well, that makes an alcohol-free hand sanitizer (it uses thyme oil, which has been shown to be effective against even drug-resistant bacteria). They have a spray version and a foaming version.
But making a homemade version is actually very easy and requires only a few simple ingredients.
So let’s get started!
Natural Hand Sanitizer Recipe
Here’s what you’ll need:
- aloe vera gel – this will form the base gel, and aloe is very nourishing for the skin.
- witch hazel – has small amount of alcohol (ideally around 14%) in it to sanitize.
- essential oils – anti-bacterial and anti-viral properties, but do not cause antibiotic resistance like other products. Tea tree oil has potent antimicrobial properties (use at least 0.5% concentration), and lavender helps round out the strong tea tree oil smell.
- vitamin E oil – acts as a natural preservative and is moisturizing for the skin.
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 to prevent dry skin.
Here’s how to put it all together:
Start by adding the vitamin E oil and essential oils to a glass bowl, and mix them very well. Then add the witch hazel, and stir to mix. Finally, add the aloe vera gel, and mix again.
That’s it! Wasn’t that simple?
Now you’ll add them to your containers and get on with your life, because you just made natural hand sanitizer and you’re feeling pretty awesome right now. 🙂
You can use these squeeze tubes that you can get online, or you can check the travel toiletries section at your drug store for similar bottles or tubes.
Just throw them in your purse or backpack so you always have it on the go. Or you can use a pump bottle to keep on your desk at work.
This recipe makes a little over 8 ounces, and should last around 6-9 months with no problem. If you’re making a big batch, keep the extra in the fridge until ready to use.
Using fresh aloe from your plant? The shelf life will decrease significantly, and it will have to be kept in the fridge so it doesn’t spoil.
- In a small glass bowl, add the essential oils and vitamin E oil and stir.
- Add the witch hazel and stir again.
- Add the aloe vera gel and mix very well.
- Using a funnel, pour the mixture into your container of choice.
- Shake well before using.
- 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 6-9 months.
- This recipe filled 3 travel size (3 oz) squirt bottles.
- As always, use use caution and care when working with essential oils. Keep in mind that some oils are not recommended for use while pregnant or breastfeeding. So please, research the oils you wish to use before you add them to your recipe. A good resource on safety is Using EOs Safely.
- 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.