There is a massive shortage of hand sanitizer right now due to the COVID-19 pandemic— but you’ve probably noticed that already. The FDA has addressed this deficit by authorizing pharmacies to produce sanitizing gel, while alcohol companies are converting their distilleries from booze to sanitizer. That being said, don’t expect to see it on shelves anytime soon.

Unless you’ve hoarded enough for the foreseeable future, it’s likely that at some point you’ll have to turn to alternative methods. On the bright side, making your own hand sanitizer is quick and budget-friendly. And since you won't be buying any unnecessary plastic it's more sustainable, too!

There are a lot of recipes popping up, so before you jump into it there are a few important things to note about homemade hand sanitizer.

Does Making Your Own Work?

The bottom line is that the most effective way to prevent the spread of coronavirus particles is to wash your hands frequently with soap and water for at least 20 seconds - about as long as it takes to recite the alphabet. To save you from singing your ABC's countless times a day, here are some other hand-washing song ideas.

A person washing her hands over a sink.Washing your hands thoroughly is the best defence against spreading harmful viruses and bacteria.

When soap and water is not available, hand sanitizer can aid in reducing the spread of viruses and bacteria. However, the CDC warns that although “alcohol-based hand sanitizers can quickly reduce the number of microbes on hands in some situations … sanitizers do not eliminate all types of germs.” 

Hand sanitizer, whether store-bought or the DIY version below, are no substitute for proper physical distancing and thorough hand-washing when it comes to preventing the spread of viruses. If you do make the below recipe, it's important to use it in addition to the above preventative measures.

Proper Alcohol Content

The key to making effective hand sanitizer is to ensure that it is strong enough to take out the virus. To be effective, the sanitizer needs to have an overall alcohol percentage of at least 60%. This means that the actual alcohol ingredient must be much more potent, since we will be diluting it to make it easier to use. Never attempt to make hand sanitizer at home using alcohol intended for consumption, witch hazel, or essential oils. Leave the vodka in the liquor cabinet and opt for isopropyl alcohol in the highest percentage available — ideally over 90%. If you can’t find isopropyl alcohol online or at drug stores, get creative and try hardware stores, craft stores or beauty supply stores.

Protect Your Hands

If made properly, DIY hand sanitizer is effective and sustainable. However, if made incorrectly it won’t kill viruses and germs and can cause skin irritation and even burns. Protect against these unpleasant side effects by following the recipe and doing a small skin test first. This recipe protects hands from the harshness of alcohol with aloe vera gel. If you’re having trouble finding aloe, or want to make this as waste-free as possible, you can get aloe vera gel from aloe leaves. You can find aloe vera leaves in big box stores and Latin grocery stores.

Quick Gel Hand Sanitizer Recipe

This basic hand sanitizer recipe is three parts alcohol to one part aloe vera. Ensure the ingredients are measured correctly using a clean measuring cup or spoon. For a personalized scent you can add in a few drops of your favourite essential oil. We suggest an energizing scent like peppermint, or calming smells like lavender or jasmine.

To Make 1 Cup: 

3/4 cup isopropyl alcohol (highest percentage that you can get — at least 90%)
1/4 cup aloe vera gel
10 drops of essential oil (optional)

Mix isopropyl alcohol and aloe vera gel in a clean jar or bottle. Add 10 drops of essential oil of your choice. Ensure container is sealed to avoid the mixture drying up. 

This recipe is pump friendly, so feel free to use a lotion or squeeze bottle for storing and dispensing.

Person dispensing hand sanitizer from a pump pack

Make Sure To Use Correctly

Did you know that you may be using your hand sanitizer wrong? In order to be effective, apply a generous amount of sanitizer to clean, dry, and non-greasy hands. Ensure that you use enough to cover hands, under fingernails and top of the wrists. Let dry before touching other surfaces.

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Make something delicious:


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Jessie Stainton