How to Make Homemade Hand Sanitizer

So we’re like a month into this very special time in all of our lives. Things are kind of settling into a new normal (at least they are for us). I’m not (usually) staying up until 3 am anymore and I started cleaning my house again, so that’s good. But some things are still weird–and finding hand sanitizer is one of those weird things. Remember when we used to go buy it by giant jugs and tiny keychain-sized containers like it was, well, toilet paper or something? Yeah, those days are gone. So I’m going to show you how to make homemade hand sanitizer.

before we start

Okay, guys. Let’s get a few things clear before the comments/my email/social media DMs are assaulted with messages from Karens telling me I’m doing this all wrong. This is not a substitute for medical care or advice. This is as scientific and sterile as it’s going to get at home, outside a lab.

  • HAND SANITIZER IS NOT A SUBSTITUTE FOR HAND WASHING. I’ve always preached this. If you have access to a sink and some soap, use that first–it’s better for your hands and it is better protection. That said, it’s not always practical (like if you’re a cashier, you can’t leave and wash your hands after every transaction) or possible (unless you have a sink in your car) to wash your hands. That is what hand sanitizer is for.
  • The alcohol content MUST be 60% or greater for this to be effective. I would aim a little higher–If you use the percentages and proportions I’m using, your alcohol percentage will be 75%. Because we’re adding other things, the higher the alcohol percentage, the better. If you start with anything less than 60%, you can’t wind up with a final product that has an alcohol percentage greater than 60% (I feel like this is obvious, but I had a very long, contentious argument with someone I consider to be very smart and scientifically minded about it.)
  • Speaking of alcohol, rubbing alcohol may be hard to find right now. If that’s the case, look for a drinking alcohol that’s around 140 proof (at least), which translates into 70% alcohol. If you can find Everclear, the highest proof is 190 (which is 95% alcohol!) That means that even though it’s more expensive than rubbing alcohol, you can stretch it further by diluting it down to 75%.
  • I’m using essential oils ONLY for the scent. I like essential oils in general for the scent. I am making no health claims about the essential oils. I love y’all, but I’m not interested in more essential oils. I realize you probably think my “drugstore oils” are trash and I’m a trash person for using them. It’s okay, I kind of am a trash person. I already accidentally became a DoTerra consultant once (that is another story for another day), I don’t need to do it again.
  • I based this recipe off the WHO (World Health Organization) recommendations. I consider this to be a scientifically sound source. If you don’t agree, that’s cool…but we’re not going to fight about it here.
  • This is highly flammable. Make sure hands are dry and the alcohol smell is gone before lighting matches, grills, etc.

(Read more after the recipe)

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How to Make Homemade Hand Sanitizer

  • Author: kate jones

Description

How to make homemade hand sanitizer according to the WHO recommendations.


Scale

Ingredients

12 fluid ounces 91% rubbing alcohol*
2 teaspoons emollient (glycerin, fractionated coconut oil, or other skin-friendly nut or seed oil)
1 tablespoon 3% hydrogen peroxide
1 tablespoon + 2 teaspoons distilled or boiled water
Optional: A few drops essential oils per bottle


Instructions

In a very clean glass lidded jar, add alcohol, hydrogen peroxide, and distilled water (see alternate measurements below.) Add the emollient and shake vigorously until combined. Pour into small spray bottles and label. If desired, add a few drops of essential oils per bottle. You may need to shake the mixture between fillings.


Notes

99% alcohol: 12 ounces alcohol + 1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons water
95% alcohol (Everclear): 12 ounces alcohol  + 1/4 cup + 1 1/2 tablespoons water
91% alcohol: see recipe above
70% alcohol: 12 ounces alcohol + 1 1/2 tablespoons water
Anything less than 70%: Do not use

Basically, for every 8% alcohol below 99%, remove 1 tablespoon water. Thank you VERY MUCH to my very smart son Clark who helped me with the math.

what you’ll need

  • 70% or greater alcohol (ethyl or isopropyl alcohol or drinking alcohol 140 proof or greater)
  • Distilled water
  • 3% Hydrogen Peroxide
  • Emollient (glycerin, fractionated coconut oil, grapefruit seed oil, jojoba oil; any kind of oil you would use as a moisturizer on your skin.)
  • Small spray bottles. I got mine at Hobby Lobby before it closed; as far as I know, Michael’s is doing curbside service in most locations. You can also use empty travel size spray bottles, just wash them well first and label them afterwards.
  • Optional: Essential oils, labels

When you’re buying or rounding up supplies, pay attention to percentages–they’re important here (speaking of supplies, between the talk of Glycerin and Everclear, I’m feeling a real strong nineties music vibe here. I bet back in the day when you were listening to “Glycerine” and Everclear, you never imagined the most exciting thing you’d be doing in 2020 was making homemade hand sanitizer.) 70% or greater alcohol, 3% hydrogen peroxide, distilled or purified water.

You’ll also need small spray bottles and labels of some kind (even if you just Sharpie it on there. But Safety 101–never leave a spray bottle unlabeled.)

I made these labels:

You can download the .jpg here or you can download a full-sheet PDF that will print on Avery Label 22808.

how to make homemade hand sanitizer

In a very clean glass lidded jar, add alcohol, hydrogen peroxide, and distilled water. I’ve included alternate measurements for common alcohol percentages in the recipe above, but basically, for every 8% of alcohol less than 99%, remove 1 tablespoon water (my very smart son Clark, who, at 15, is way smarter than I am now, helped me figure this out).  Add the emollient and shake vigorously until combined–it may appear cloudy. That’s okay.

Pour into small spray bottles and label.

If desired, add a few drops of essential oils per bottle. You may need to shake the mixture between fillings to make sure the emollient doesn’t all wind up in one bottle. Shake before using, then spritz on hands and rub together, or spray onto a tissue or paper towel and wipe hard surfaces (phones, car door handles, steering wheels, shopping carts, etc.)

If you’re looking for other at home health and beauty ideas, here are some of our favorites!

Homemade lip balm

Fizzy Peppermint Bath Salts

Orange Coconut Sugar Scrub

Coconut Lime Sugar Scrub

22 comments

  1. I’m not sure if this is a dumb question or not, but since normally hand sanitizers and surface disinfectants are completely different products, is this okay to use on surfaces, and if so, do you know how long it it would need to stay wet to be effective?

    1. I’m not sure. My guess is by the time it was dry, it would be relatively safe. All of us are hacking together personal safety at this point…something is better than nothing, right??

  2. Nice tutorial — very clear and well written! And it’s plenty good enough for everyday people.

    One thing you might also add is a warning that any alcohol-based hand sanitizer is flammable. Don’t use it near the kitchen stove, when smoking, or around the barbecue grill, candles, or any other source of flame or spark. Hands should be dry and the alcohol smell gone before going near the stove, lighting the grill, etc.

  3. Thanks, I might need to do this soon- haven’t bought any sanitizer since this started and am starting to run low. My favorite part is the label! 🙂

  4. What kind of essential oils did you use??? A distillery near us gave away 8 oz bottles of sanitizer, and i really don’t want to go around smelling like vodka (which is what the sanitizer smells like 😂🤦‍♀️).

    1. I ended up using NOW tea tree oil in most of these, but my favorite is orange and then lavender. Target has a little inexpensive set and I used car pickup to get them!

  5. Laughing so hard at being a trash person. I wish I could be your friend in real life so we could be trashy together. Thanks for a great post during this “special time”.

  6. lol! This is coming from
    1.fellow “trash person”
    2. Person irl named Karen! I have never enjoyed my name more!😃
    Thanks for a helpful post!

  7. After searching the web for the past month, I have found the best recipe with the most variables available from your site! I am a cold process soapmaker and have been looking for recipes with different options verified by CDC directived. Thank you for the mathmatics included in your recipes!

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