Hand sanitizer is always a great essential to carry with you in your bag. When you’re out running errands, or are traveling and don’t have access to soap and water it can be a lifesaver. Hand sanitizer can be an effective option to kill bacteria, decreasing your risk of getting sick and spreading germs to others.
While hand sanitizer is sold in stores, it’s actually possible to make it at home with just a few simple ingredients—some of which you might already have! With the recent rise of COVID-19, you’ve probably noticed that hand sanitizer is in short supply, so making your own has become an increasingly popular option.
Keep reading to learn how to make your own hand sanitizer using aloe vera gel. We're also looking at ways you can proactively protect yourself from viruses like COVID-19.
While hand sanitizer is an incredible invention, it’s important to know that the best way to keep your hands clean is by washing with traditional soap and water. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there is a specific way to wash your hands with soap and water:
While soap and water is certainly the most effective way to clean your hands, it may not always be available to you. Using a hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol can be an effective way to kill germs, according to the CDC.
Making your own hand sanitizer might be easier than you think. However, it’s important to ensure you’re using the right ingredients and measurements to create a formula that’s both safe and effective.
Making your own hand sanitizer requires just three simple ingredients. These ingredients are very affordable and can be found in most stores or even ordered online through a site like Amazon. You might even have them in your home already!
In addition to these ingredients, you’ll also need a funnel, bottle to pour your hand sanitizer into as well as a clean bowl and spoon (or any kind of mixing utensil) to create your mixture. The key to making hand sanitizer that is effective is to ensure you have the right ratio of ingredients. As stated previously, the CDC suggests keeping the alcohol content around 60%.
Be sure to measure out each ingredient carefully:
While we know that rubbing alcohol kills germs, you might be wondering, “Why use aloe vera gel and essential oils?”
Alcohol can be very drying to the skin, so aloe vera helps to combat some of this harshness. Once aloe vera gel has dried on the skin, it acts as a protective barrier that helps to keep the moisture locked in. If you’re using hand sanitizer multiple times a day, aloe vera can help to save the skin on your hands from drying and cracking.
In addition to this, aloe vera provides a variety of other benefits to the skin, including:
The list of benefits of aloe vera goes on and on, which is why this ingredient is commonly found in skincare products. Aloe vera has been known to increase collagen production, which helps to reduce the look of wrinkles and promote youthful, radiant skin. When searching the market, you’ll often see aloe listed as a key ingredient in eye creams, serums, toners, moisturizers, body butters and more.
So why use essential oils? Essential oils have a variety of benefits. Lavender is known for its relaxing effects, and the invigorating properties of peppermint oil have made it known for its energizing effects. When it comes to hand sanitizer, essential oils can add a refreshing, pleasant scent.
Here are a few tips to keep in mind when making hand sanitizer at home:
Typically, it’s best to buy your hand sanitizer from a trusted brand like Purrell at the store. However, in the case of a shortage, homemade hand sanitizer can be an effective option.
If you decide to make your own hand sanitizer, ensure you are using the right ingredients and the correct amount of each ingredient to avoid skin irritation or any kind of chemical reaction. Also keep in mind that DIY hand sanitizer is not recommended for use on children, as their skin is much more sensitive.
According to the CDC, hand sanitizers may not be effective when hands are visibly dirty or greasy. Hand sanitizer is more effective in settings such as doctors’ offices or hospitals, where hands can come in contact with germs but do not become visibly soiled.
Additionally, hand sanitizers may not remove harmful chemicals like pesticides and heavy metals. In these cases, it’s always best to use soap and water.
Finally, when it comes to the effectiveness of hand sanitizer, studies show that using sanitizers with an alcohol concentration of at least 60% are the most effective at killing germs. Sanitizers with a lower concentration may not work to kill many types of germs, and may only reduce the growth of germs rather than killing them completely.
When using hand sanitizer, apply the product to the palm of your hand and rub your hands together, ensuring to spread the product evenly. Don't forget to coat your fingers and the back of your hands, too. Allow your hands to dry completely. The amount of sanitizer to use will vary based on the product, so always check the label. If you’re using DIY sanitizer, apply around a dime-sized amount.
So how can you know when to wash your hands with soap and water vs. use sanitizer?
As a general rule of thumb, it’s always best to wash your hands with soap and water when you can. And, be sure to wash every part of your hands and palms -- it should take at least 20 minutes! According to the CDC’s Handwashing and Hand Sanitizer Use guide, soap and water are necessary in the following scenarios:
If you find yourself in any of the above scenarios and do not have access to soap and water, hand sanitizer is better than doing nothing at all. Use a hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol and follow up by washing with soap and water when you can.
How can you protect yourself from viruses like COVID-19? The following steps are recommended by the CDC:
It’s always wise to keep hand sanitizer with you—whether it’s store-bought or homemade. Germs are everywhere, so get into the habit of sanitizing your hands regularly throughout your day. It’s one of the most important steps you can take to avoid getting sick!