Save money and ditch the chemicals found in store-bought hand cleaners. Learn how to make your own Homemade Hand Sanitizer Gel and DIY Hand Cleaner with these super simple recipes to keep dirty hands clean on the go.
This time of year, it’s easy to spot bottles of hand cleaners or wipes everywhere you go – the grocery store, the doctor’s office, even at indoor gyms and playgrounds.
But there is a way to naturally clean hands without the harsh, toxic chemicals with essential oils. I make this homemade hand cleaner and this DIY hand sanitizer gel to use on the go. I love to use Thieves essential oil or Tea Tree essential oil to make my own homemade hand cleaner. Use this spray to clean hands – as well as surfaces like public toilet seats, door handles, and even restaurant tables. I keep it in my purse to use as needed. And when I’m at home I use my DIY foaming hand soap recipe to naturally clean hands.
The CDC recommends that hand sanitizers have 60-95% alcohol. Isopropyl alcohol (like rubbing alcohol at 60-95% alochol) will work for DIY hand sanitizer, however, it can be very drying. That’s why an emollient (e.g. skin softener) like aloe vera gel or vegetable glycerin is used in hand sanitizers.
So what’s the ratio of isopropyl alcohol to emollient? It depends on the percentage of alcohol. You could could do 2/3 cup 91% isopropyl alcohol and 1/3 cup aloe vera gel to get a hand sanitizer with 63% alcohol (91 x 2/3).
If you wanted something higher, you could do 3/4 cup 91% isopropyl alcohol and 1/4 cup aloe vera gel to get a hand sanitizer with 71% alcohol (91 x 3/4).
Can You Use Witch Hazel?
I have used witch hazel in this recipe and love the way it makes my hands feel. In fact, I prefer it over isopropyl alcohol (which you do need to watch with kids and make sure they do not ingest). Witch hazel is a gentle, natural astringent and can help clean hands, but it’s not recommended as a way to kill germs, bacteria and viruses. Most witch hazel has about 15% alcohol content which can kill some germs, but it doesn’t meet the CDC recommendation of 60%. So you may want to stick with isopropyl alcohol if that’s what you want. Just be sure to monitor your kids and make sure they don’t ingest this hand sanitizer.
If you do want to use witch hazel, just replace the isopropyl alcohol in this recipe for it. Just remember, it is not the CDC recommendation as a hand sanitizer.
Can You Use Vodka?
It depends. You’ll notice that with ethanol (drinking alcohol), the alcohol content is noted on the bottles as “proof”. Divide the proof by half to figure out the percentage of alcohol in the bottle. So you’ll want to get drinking alcohol of at least 140 proof for 70% alcohol content. Make sense? Vodka can range from 80 proof to 191 proof. You’d need a high proof vodka to make this and it’s likely going to be more expensive than isopropyl alcohol. You could consider Everclear, which comes in 120, 151, 189, and 190 proof – ranging from 60-95% alcohol content.
Keep in mind that you can dilute with water to get at least 60% alcohol content. So if you have vodka at 191 proof (which 95% alcohol), you can do about 2/3 cup 191 proof vodka to 1/3 cup water content to make a CDC-recommended hand sanitizer at 60% or more.
How to Make a Hand Cleaner Spray – Step by Step
1. In a 2 oz spray bottle, add 10 drops of Thieves essential oil or Tea Tree essential oil.
2. Add 3 tbsp 91% isopropyl alcohol (or 191 proof vodka).
3. Add 0.5 tbsp vegetable glycerin and shake well.
NOTE: You could add more vegetable glycerin (up to 0.5 tbsp more) to get the desired feel on your hands. For instance, a total of 1 tbsp vegetable glycerin feels more moisturizing to me.
How to Make a Hand Sanitizer Gel – Step by Step
1. In an 8 oz squeezable bottle, add 2/3 cup of 91% isopropyl alcohol and 1/3 cup of aloe vera gel.
2. Add 10 drops of Thieves essential oil or Tea Tree essential oil.
3. Put cap on the bottle and shake well.
About the Ingredients
Ingredients in the Spray
- Thieves essential oil is a blend of cinnamon, clove, eucalyptus, rosemary and lemon essential oils. It’s very effective in cleaning and getting out dirt and grime. Tea Tree essential oil can be used in place of Thieves.
- 191 proof vodka or 91% isopropyl alcohol kills germs, bacteria and viruses. It’s the main sanitizer in this recipe.
- Vegetable glycerin is an emollient that helps to keep hands moisturized as alcohol can be very drying to the skin.
Ingredients in the Gel
- Thieves essential oil or Tea Tree essential oil helps to keep hands clean and makes this recipe smell great.
- Isopropyl alcohol (91%) kills germs, bacteria and viruses. It’s the main sanitizer in this recipe.
- Aloe vera gel nourishes and moisturizes skin, and the gel gives this recipe the consistency of a traditional hand sanitizer gel.
How to Use This Hand Sanitizer Gel + Spray
To use the hand cleaner spray, spritz hands generously with this hand cleaner spray, then rub hands together to clean. Repeat as needed. This spray helps to remove dirt, grime, and keep hands clean before and after eating or even after a trip to the bathroom. You can even use this spray to clean surfaces on the go – like toilet seats, table tops, etc. It’s a great option when you need to clean but don’t have cleaning supplies on the go.
To use the hand cleaner gel, squeeze a dollop of the gel into hands and rub together to cover surface of hands.
Can I Use This On My Kids?
Yes, but there are a few precautions.
If you’re opting for the witch hazel version (not the isopropyl alcohol), both the hand cleaner spray and hand cleaner gel are safe for kids, ages 1 year and up. For ideas on a hand cleaner spray to use for younger children check out 7 Best Essential Oils for Babies + DIY Recipes You Need.
If you make a hand sanitizer with isopropyl alcohol, just be sure that children do not ingest it. If you have a young child who still puts hands in their mouth, opt for a safe DIY hand soap instead.
Top Tips For This Homemade Hand Sanitizer
- Shake well before use.
- Keep in mind when traveling, you are allowed to bring containers that are 3.4 ounces (100 milliliters) or smaller in your carry on bag.
- Sanitizer should last several months.
How to Get Started with Essential Oils
- Sign up for my FREE essential oil email course in order to learn the basics.
- Check out my FREE masterclass all about essential oils and this beginner’s guide to essential oils.
- Get my essential oils online course – complete with video tutorials, e-book and everything you need to get started with essential oils.
- Find out how to buy essential oils at wholesale, and get a starter kit for 60% off retail prices. It’s the best deal around and a great way to get started with essential oils. Plus lots of freebies just for you.
More DIY Recipes You Might Like
- Homemade Bath Bombs
- DIY Hair Detangler Spray (with a Printable Label)
- DIY Aromatherapy Shower Steamers
Did you try this Hawaiian ahi tuna poke bowl recipe? Don’t forget to rate the recipe and comment below to let me know how it went. You can also FOLLOW ME on Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest.
Homemade Hand Cleaner Spray
- 2 oz glass spray bottle
- 10 drops Thieves essential oil or Tea Tree essential oil
- 3 tbsp 91% isopropyl alcohol or 191 proof vodka
- 0.5 tbsp vegetable glycerin
- In a 2 oz spray bottle, add 10 drops of Thieves essential oil or Tea Tree essential oil.
- Add 3 tbsp 91% isopropyl alcohol (or 191 proof vodka).
- Add 0.5 tbsp vegetable glycerin and shake well.
DIY Hand Sanitizer Gel
- 2/3 cup 91% isopropyl alcohol
- 1/3 cup aloe vera gel
- 10 drops Thieves to Tea Tree essential oil
- In a squeezable bottle, add 2/3 cup 91% isopropyl alcohol and 1/3 cup aloe vera gel.
- Add 10 drops of Thieves or Tea Tree essential oil.
- Put cap on the bottle and shake well.
Want More DIY Recipes?
Check out my book Natural Beauty Made Simple. It comes with 45 homemade skincare recipes with a set of printable labels and gift tags. You can download it instantly to your phone, computer or e-reader, so it’s portable and can go with you anywhere!
With this book, you’ll learn how to:
- Make your own organic beauty and skin care products for less than $25 a month!
- Learn simple techniques to make your own skincare – without the fuss of complicated recipes or hard-to-find ingredients
- Get tried-and-true recipes that work to nourish the skin and make it look more radiant than ever before
- Create beautiful gifts for friends and family with the printable labels and gift tags I’ve included with this book
Photo credit: Shutterstock / July Prokopiv
FREE DIY Beauty Book
Get glowing skin and learn how to make your own DIY beauty products with simple ingredients from your kitchen. Plus, get my 7-day essential oils course to get gorgeous skin from the inside out.
I’ve been looking for the 91% isopropyl alcohol. Where can I find it?
Tracey Black says
You can find it in drug stores or grocery stores.
Jacqueline Rought says
What kind of vodka do you actually use? I’m not very knowledgeable on my liquor. I also live in PA and all of our liquor stores are closed down at the moment.
Tracey Black says
Personally, I was using cheap vodka from the store – which is usually 80 proof (or 40% alcohol). But with everything going on, I’ve switched to isopropyl alcohol to make this recipe per the CDC recommendation.
Hi Tracy – So are you saying that as long as there is enough % of alcohol, the total formula will allow the EOs to stay in the solution (since aloe is soluble in alcohol)?
Also, is the glycerin optional in the spray? What does it do? Is there a substitute for it? Thank you!
Phil M says
Just wanted to let you know there is a type in the paragraph under “Can You Use Witch Hazel?” :
“…but it’s *NOT* recommended as a way to kill germs, bacteria and viruses.” but the “not” is omitted. You reiterate the point later, so I think reader will get the point, but just wanted to make sure you knew!
Thanks so much for this article!
Tracey Black says
Yes, just fixed. Thanks!