A glass, with Hand sanitizer

Can’t Get Your Hands on Hand Sanitizer? Make Your Own

My mailbox has filled up the past couple of days with letters from readers who find themselves on the verge of Purell panic!

A glass, with Hand sanitizer and Purell

Purell is flying off the shelves as people are hoarding gel-based hand sanitizers (Purell is just one brand) in response to seasonal virus. My sources report that hand sanitizer has mostly disappeared from store shelves in the U.S. as individuals and businesses stock up on supplies.

Still, we’re being instructed by professionals everywhere that washing our hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds is the best proactive defense. And when soap and water are not available, use hand sanitizer. Hand sanitizer doesn’t kill all viruses, but it is effective against this new recent virus, says CBS News contributor Dr. David Agus.

So what’s a wise person to do when hand sanitizer is nowhere to be found? You can make it yourself following either of the recipes that follow. Both use ingredients you may have already or are available at any supermarket, drugstore or online.

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Hand Sanitizer #1

For this recipe, below, you will need:

Hand Sanitizer #2

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A glass, with Hand sanitizer
Print Recipe
4.05 from 21 votes

Homemade Hand Sanitizer

When hand sanitizer is in short supply, don't panic. Instead, make this Purell copycat yourself using ingredients available at any supermarket, drugstore, or online.
Prep Time10 mins
Total Time10 mins
Course: Make Your Own
Cuisine: Health and Beauty
Cost: Varies

Equipment

  • mixing bowl
  • spoon
  • funnel
  • small spray bottle, liquid soap container , other containers for dispensing

Ingredients

Hand Sanitizer #1

  • 2/3 cup isopropyl alcohol (70% by vol or greater) (see NOTE 1)
  • 1/3 cup aloe vera gel (see NOTE 2)
  • 5-10 drops essential oil optional

Hand Sanitizer #2

  • 4 cups isopropyl alcohol (70% by vol or greater) can substitute greater strengths; see NOTE 1
  • 3 tablespoons hydrogen peroxide (3% by vol) , see NOTE 3
  • 2 tablespoons glycerine , see NOTE 4

Instructions

Hand Sanitizer #1

  • Pour the alcohol and aloe vera in a bowl and stir until blended.
  • Add several drops of essential oil and stir to help mask the smell of alcohol (optional)
  • Use the funnel to pour the 8-ounces of mixture into containers, then label to clearly identify the bottles' contents.

Hand Sanitizer #2

  • Pour the isopropyl alcohol into a clean container.
  • Add hydrogen peroxide.
  • Add glycerine.
  • Gently mix the ingredients together either by stirring or sealing and gently shaking the bottle.
  • Dispense the sanitizer into smaller individual bottles that have tight-fitting lids.

Notes

  1. Also known in the U.S. as rubbing alcohol, which comes in varying strenghts but you want at last 70% by vol., or "v/v." Find isopropyl alcohol in drugstores, supermarkets or online in varying strengths. 
  2. This comes in a bottle, and found in supermarkets, drugstores, and online.
  3. Make sure it's fresh.
  4. Find glycerine in drugstores, some supermarkets in the baking aisle.
  5. Hand Sanitizer #1 yield: 1 cup. Hand Sanitizer #2 yield; 4 cups.

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  1. Diane Thornton says:

    My husband and I tried the #1 recipe. Used some aloe that claimed to be 98% aloe. It had some other ingredients added. They reacted and a glob of white stuff formed. We have not been able to find any 100% aloe anywhere.

    Reply
  2. Mara Cain says:

    Soap and water is best! It is the friction of skin against skin that makes this work. Just be sure to use the full 20 seconds and actually RUB your hands and fingers together, not just a hasty rinsing. We should be doing this every time we wash our hands, not just during a threat.

    Reply
  3. Diane Johnson says:

    Dear Mary
    I am so frustrated that I am still not receiving your emails! This is my second attempt to find out if maybe the problem is on my end or is it with your mass mail out? All your emails continue to go directly to my junk folder in my yahoo account. I have enjoyed your emails for several years now and never had a problem receiving them until last year. Can you please help me with this? Thank you so much! Sincerely your loyal fan, Diane Johnson

    Reply
  4. Rocke says:

    2 stars
    My math may be wrong, but if you’re using 2/3 70% isopropyl and 1/3 aloe vera gel, then the alcohol concentration is only around 46%, below the recommended 60%. You need a ratio closer to 9 parts 70% to 1 part gel.

    Reply
    • Kris says:

      5 stars
      Thanks for the equation. I was trying to do the math for making the hand sanitizer with 70% isopropyl rubbing alcohol. I’m hoping 9 parts alcohol and 1 part aloe gel will be effective. Appreciate it!

      Reply
    • Leigh says:

      Can I use glycerin in place of the aloe vera gel? What would the ratio be to get the correct strength of alcohol? Thnx

      Reply
  5. Luisa says:

    Here in our Atlanta suburb, the rubbing alcohol and hand sanitizer supplies ran our at the same time. Interestingly, many stores have run out of toilet paper as well. Is there a good sanitizer recipe that doesn’t require alcohol? Thanks.

    Reply
      • Luisa says:

        Thank you for replying, Donna. I do have tea tree oil. Has anyone seen any studies on its effectiveness against this particular virus?

      • Lyra says:

        People should not substitute tea tree oil for alcohol, as the essential oils are highly concentrated and only meant to be used in small amounts, like 10-20 drops, not to substitute four cups!! You’ll cause some serious skin irritations. Tea tree, thyme oil etc. are good additions to the recipe in the proper amounts.

  6. Kay Jones says:

    You don’t need sanitizer. It isn’t that effective and the most effective thing to do is wash your hands with soap and water. The friction and scrubbing action is what makes it work the best over simply smearing something on your hands. Scrub for the length of time it takes you to sing Happy Birthday. Then don’t touch your hands to your face.

    Reply
    • Lyra says:

      Sometimes it is not possible to use soap and water – we have a studio with no running water that is used for classes. We have a composting toilet and use hand sanitizer. So there are some situations where it is good to have.

      Reply
    • Mary Hunt says:

      It is excellent as you know … read more here! But not everyone has Sniper. Lots (lots and lots) want hand sanitizer !
      By the way, as I write, I am 36,000ft with my “Sniper wipes” right here in close reach. Not one person looked at me weird or seemed to be annoyed when I did my regular “space clean.”

      Interestingly, this morning from the moment I got off the shuttle bus, through the biggest Security area you’ve ever seen, the long trek on the train to the packed Southwest Terminal made up of 49 gates and all the way to my seat here in row 21, I have not seen even one person with a face mask. Apparently sanity and clear thinking are still alive and well. Of course I am NOT saying that this coronavirus COVID-19 is not a serious thing we need to be working through … just that the consensus from what I am experiencing is that it’s manageable. We will get through … we’ll learn, and be better for it. Just me, reporting from the field!

      Reply
      • Bookworm says:

        Order Sniper soon — only the 4oz size is currently in stock, so that’s what I ordered.

  7. Marilyn says:

    5 stars
    Thank for this recipe. So very helpful.
    May I ask you to send me your column on stick vacuums and why you liked them? I need to get a different vacuum. Thank you very much.

    Reply
    • Mary Hunt says:

      I can, but it might be quicker for you to type “cordless stick vac” in the searchbox above on the right side! Just in case you’d rather not search, HERE and HERE are posts. Hope that helps!

      Reply
  8. Cath says:

    I was just thinking that plain rubbing alcohol would work in lieu of hand sanitizer. Thanks for the recipe. The aloe vera would obviously make a big difference. Seems like we should all take a deep breath and think long range. It would be a good time to calmly think of disaster prep as a broader goal. Having a good supply of this hand sanitizer in our disaster prep supplies would useful. The one thing I worry about is the shelf life of both HP and bleach, two items we often think will magically kill all germs and viruses. I buy bleach periodically to put in the water I store for emergencies, but I rarely use it for other things. I keep buying new bottles so I know it’s fresh. What do I do with the old stuff?

    Reply
    • Mary Hunt says:

      You are right, Cath. But it’s not thick and hand-friendly. Some people … did I say 100s of readers? … want “hand sanitizer’ in a little bottle that they can’t find on store shelves. I aim to please!

      Reply
  9. Kristen says:

    My rubbing alcohol is only 50%. Is it worth making my own sanitizer with this alcohol? All the stores are currently sold out so I can’t buy a stronger one. Would love to know! I’m getting on a plane in two days.

    Reply
    • Alex says:

      No, you need a concentration of at least 60% undiluted. So since you would be adding other things you should be aiming for 70% or higher. If you are only using straight rubbing alcohol use the 70% stuff. You want an end product between 60-70% alcohol with something like aloe vera/glycerin and vitamin e to prevent the alcohol from drying out your hands.

      Reply
    • Mary Hunt says:

      No, not worth it. You’ll be giving yourself false hope that you’re doing any good in protecting yourself and your family. 70% or even 91% rubbing alcohol is super cheap and easy to find, so just get that OK?

      Reply
      • Luisa says:

        Thank you for replying, Donna. I do have tea tree oil. Has anyone seen any studies on its effectiveness against this particular virus?

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