Homemade Hand Sanitizer! (Or, not...)

Joshua likes to have hand sanitizer in his lunchbox, for times when he's supposed to take his (15-minute) lunch break and is at least a 5-minute walk from the nearest sink. (Sometimes he's a 5-minute walk from his lunchbox, too... don't ask me how they expect him to actually eat!)
We purchased a travel-sized bottle of hand sanitizer at Wal-mart for 84 cents, and it lasted quite a while.
A few months ago, I came across a recipe for homemade hand sanitizer on a blog. I'm not sure how I originally found the recipe, but I bookmarked it for the day when Joshua's little bottle was empty.
Last week, I purchased some aloe gel to make the sanitizer. I tried to get a more natural kind (though I know it still had some weird ingredients in it...) and it cost more than I had planned to invest... but, oh well. ($3.97 for 24 ounces)
Before I made my sanitizer, I decided to google for more information. After all, it never hurts to have several recipes to compare, and find the best way to do something before you even start, right? :)
After reading this informative article from The NY Times, along with a few other random links, I realized that the homemade hand sanitizer, which has 1 teaspoon of rubbing alcohol per CUP of aloe gel, wasn't going to come close to 60% alcohol content(which is the minimum amount needed), and wasn't  going to sanitize.
I returned my unopened, unused aloe gel, and instead bought an even bigger bottle of Germ-X hand sanitizer for $4.97.
This amount will probably last us years, which is great, since I'm sticking to good old soap and water in our home! :)
It's nice to feel frugal, and it's fun to make homemade. It's great to save money, but it's best to do some research first!
Friends, be sure to research the things you read about on blogs... including this one. And never hesitate to let me know if I recommend something "questionable". I make mistakes, and I sincerely appreciate the wisdom my readers share here! :)

5 Easy Frugal Recipes for Household Products: The hand sanitizer was a no-go for me, but homemade scouring powder, deodorant, laundry soap, and others are a success! :) Click to read more! :)


dont know if ya have one in the area but, in a couple of years when ya need more sanitizer. they have a ENORMOUS one biggest i have EVER seen for under 6 bucks!
i usually buy an off brand SMALL container for my purse (for after hand shake chorus at church) and i just refill it with a larger one i purchase!

thanks for the tip tho, i probably would have wanted ot try it had i seen it (homemade sanitizer)

:) I know, I was excited about making my own! :) We do have a Sam's club, about an hour away, but I have never been there myself...

How did you make the hand sanitiaser?

from: Sara

Excellent post, Tammy! I agree that the important thing about being frugal is to know whether making something is really & truly cheaper than just buying it. I have had that happen a couple of times and it feels empowering to know that you are doing the most frugal thing you can for your family! Great job!

Thank you, Amy! :)

the info above is very informative!!

i learned a lot from it..

hope you can post another.

from: arl of philippines

I have heard that hand sanitizers are among the causes of the "super-bacteria" that are resistant to being killed of by alcohol and antibiotics.

I completely see where you are coming from. I guess the one thing to add is that if you use tea tree oil, it has amazing antibacterial properties, even in small diluted amounts, which would mean you need far less drying alcohol. ;)

-Jessica G.

You're right, the recipe does suggest using tea tree oil or another scent... I wouldn't have used tea tree oil (who wants to pick up a sandwich after rubbing tea tree oil on their hands?!), because it made it sound like an optional ingredient... :)

Around here, you can buy a large bottle of hand sanitizer at the dollar store, which is great.

Since hand sanitizer is mostly alcohol plus a little mosturizer, you can make your own at home by just reversing the usual home-made hand sanitizer recipe.

Do 1 cup alcohol to 1 teaspoon mosturizer (baby oil, vitamin E oil, etc). You can mix in aloe gel if you want, but since there's so much alcohol in the mix, it'll most likely be runny instead of gelling. You can experiment with adding some xanthum gum (just a bit) to the mix to make it gel a little. But really, I wouldn't mess with the mix. You could also add a few drops of an essential oil to help cover up the rubbing alcohol smell (since you'll most likely use isopropyl alcohol from the store for $1-2 a bottle).

Note that hand sanitizer being 99.9% effective only counts if you use the hand sanitizer in conjunction with washing your hands with anti-bacterial soap. IE: you basically wash your hands like a doctor, for 2 minutes suds up, then rinse off, dry off, and apply hand sanitizer. Most folks who just toss on hand sanitizer by itself w/o washing their hands first are probably only getting 50% or less effectiveness.

Personally, I just like using the stuff in place of hand lotion, since it cleans and leaves my hands soft but not greasy (since the alcohol helps the oils spread and absorb easier.)

I also want to make my own hand sanitizer. I totally agree with everything you wrote, but I would change the isopropyl alcohol. I don't remember where I read it, but it is said that isopropyl alcohol is not the best option since it is made from petroleoum. I would use cane alcohol instead (in Mexico this is the most common alcohol you can get at drug stores). If it is hard to get in the US, I've also read that vodka is a good ingredient for the hand sanitizers.

I may try some day making a handsanitizer made with cane alcohol (60% at least - 90°) and some tea tree oil drops (though it is very expensive in the only store I found it, the bad thing about small places as the one I live in). But I'd like to make a hand lab test afterwards to see if it really works

I got your site when I googled hand sanitizer recipe and thought I'd post the article that makes me want to make an essential oil version instead of the store bought stuff. Hope it's helpful.


=), melanie

If you look on the ingredients list, the alcohol listed is not rubbing alcohol, but ETHYL alcohol - that is pure grain alcohol! I bought some Everclear to make my own and for me it is worth it to not have the chemicals that go along with hand sanitizer. But, does make me think twice about giving any sanitizer to young children.

is it dangerous to just use pure rubbing alcohol to sanitize your hands?

I am going to make some homemade for my sons school , and I am certainly using tea tree oil . Did you know that as well as being a disinfectant , it is a repellent for fleas , ticks and head lice? When you shove 26 kids into a small class room , there is bound to be 1 that has the head lice at some point. We have used tea tree oil for years and never once have my children had head lice. We also live n a wooded area and it keeps the ticks off , my neighbors dog got one and I diluted some of the tea tree oil, rubbed it on the tick with a q-tip and within seconds it dropped off and promptly died!

The problem with store bought hand sanitizers have to do with the overuse of alcohol & that constant exposure breeds antibiotic resistant germs. The homemade hand sanitizers use alcohol primarily as a preservative NOT as a germ killer. What eradicates germs in homemade sanitizers are the Essential Oils. A little more research would have told you that. Oregano Oil is vital in many of these blends as it is one of the only products to kill staph infection & is being used in scientific research in Europe & the UK to control antibiotic resistant strains of staph. Tea tree oil, lavender oil, patchouli oil, & myrrh oil are all included in various recipes NOT for the smell good factor-- BUT THEY ALL KILL GERMS and different kinds. Patchouli is for fungal infections, lavender & tea tree are anti virals, etc. Do some more research & find online outlets for the supplies. I've been making my own products for years & spend far less than I would if I bought store bought stuff-- and have less colds than I did years ago when I only used store bought hand sanitizer.

You should use 2/3 cup of rubbing alcohol to 1/3 cup aloe. The alcohol should be atleast 90% isopropyl alcohol. 1 tbs isn't nearly enough. I agree with the previous poster as well. Essential oils are ESSENTIAL!

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