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How to Make Hand Sanitizer During the Coronavirus Outbreak: 3 Easy Recipes

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Take your hand sanitizer supply needs into your own hands - literally.

The recent and currently ongoing coronavirus outbreak has left many on the hunt for a reliable (and reasonably priced) source for hand sanitizer.

Many of the usual go-to retailers are having trouble maintaining a steady supply of this on-the-go hygiene staple, and online sources have high ticket prices that seem to climb by the day.

Read on for three easy to follow hand sanitizer recipes that have the recommended strength of alcohol and can be put together with as little as 2 easy to find ingredients.

3 Easy Hand Sanitizer Recipes

These three hand sanitizer recipes were put together based on the three most commonly found strengths of Isopropyl Alcohol.

To choose which of the 3 recipes you should follow, look at the bottle of Isopropyl Alcohol that you have (or are about to buy) and identify if it is 70%, 91%, or 99%. This will be printed on the container somewhere.

The recipes have been put together in parts, so that you can make as much or as little hand sanitizer as you need. You will need to make sure that the parts are of the same volume, so use the same measuring cup or other measuring device for both “part” ingredients in the recipes.

1. Recipe using 70% Isopropyl Alcohol

  • 9 parts 70% Isopropyl Alcohol
  • 1 part Aloe Vera Gel
  • A few drops of essential oil (optional - for scent)
  • *This makes a 63% alcohol final product*

2. Recipe using 91% Isopropyl Alcohol

  • 7 parts 91% Isopropyl Alcohol
  • 3 parts Aloe Vera Gel
  • A few drops of essential oil (optional - for scent)
  • *This makes a 63.7% alcohol final product*

3. Recipe using 99% Isopropyl Alcohol

  • 7 parts 99% Isopropyl Alcohol
  • 3 parts Aloe Vera Gel
  • A few drops of essential oil (optional - for scent)
  • *This makes a 69.3% alcohol final product*

Instructions for all recipes:

  • Measure out and mix together both the Isopropyl Alcohol and Aloe Vera into an appropriate sized bowl or container.
  • Stir the ingredients until well combined, you should end up with a watery but slightly thickened gel-like mixture.
  • Add in a few drops of the essential oil, if desired, and stir well.
  • Using a funnel, pour the hand sanitizer solution into hand sanitizer bottles, spray bottles, or cleaned out hand soap bottles.
  • Pro tip: Pour a small amount of the finished hand sanitizer solution into a zip-lock plastic bag with clean folded napkins or paper towels inside for some homemade wet cleansing wipes you can store anywhere.

Make sure you have the right alcohol percentage

Be careful when following homemade hand sanitizer recipes or attempting to dilute existing products, as you need to maintain a certain percentage of alcohol in the final product for it to be effective against coronavirus.

According to the CDC, the alcohol percentage in hand sanitizers needs to be at least 60%. (All of the recipes listed above are the above 60% range and meet the strength requirements recommended by the CDC.)

You want to strike a good balance with the alcohol percentage, and make a formula which is greater than 60%, but not so strong that you are now damaging and drying out the skin on your hands - between 60% to 70% total alcohol content may be a good range. 

To make sure you have the correct strength of hand sanitizer, you should never try to “stretch” your current supply of hand sanitizers by diluting them with other ingredients. Diluting hand sanitizers may reduce the overall alcohol content of the final product below 60% and make it no longer as effective.

Also, picking up a bottle of your favorite liquor and thinking that it would make a great addition to your hand sanitizer is a bad idea as most spirits intended for drinking are around the 40% alcohol range (not to mention the expense, strong liquor smell, and potential extra unnecessary ingredients.)

Why use aloe vera and essential oils?

You want to dilute your liquid alcohol component with aloe vera so that the hand solution turns into more of a “gel.” With a thicker formula, it will be easier to apply without dripping all over before you can thoroughly coat your hands.

In addition, alcohol can be very drying to the skin on our hands, and if you were to apply just straight alcohol all throughout the day, you may actually be damaging the skin so much that little dry cracks form - which means that pathogens may be able to more easily side-step your skin’s natural protective layers.

The added essential oils are an optional part of the hand sanitizer formula, but you may want to add them if you are particularly sensitive to the intense smell of the alcohol, or you just want your hand sanitizer (and yourself) to smell nice.

Is hand sanitizer effective against Coronavirus?

Yes, it can be - if it is stronger than 60% alcohol and used properly.

The coronavirus can be tough to get control of once it is inside your body, but when it is first on your hands or skin, it is left vulnerable to being destroyed or washed off - so this is why keeping your hands clean is so important.

The virus is wrapped in a lipid membrane as its outside layer, and when that membrane is doused in a greater than 60% alcohol hand sanitizer, that virus membrane breaks up and the virus contents spill out, preventing the virus from infecting cells any longer. Some people refer to this as “killing” the virus, but since the virus is not actually alive, that is not technically true (but we won’t go there.)

Hand sanitizer or handwashing?

Ideally - both.

The center for disease control recommends washing hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds as the best choice for hand cleanliness, but in situations where a place to wash your hands is not available (and your hands are not visibly dirty), using a hand sanitizer is a good option.

Good situations to use hand sanitizer include: When riding public transport and you hold or touch a handrail, using a public door handle, touching a menu at a restaurant, or accidentally sneezing or coughing into your hand with no sinks nearby.

So, if you are near a sink, wash your hands. But, if you do not have easy access to a sink and running water at the moment, use some hand sanitizer.

A healthy mix of both, done regularly and properly, should help you keep your hands clean.

How to properly use hand sanitizer

Hand sanitizer is pretty easy to use, but there are some tips you will want to follow to give yourself the best results.

Be sure to use enough hand sanitizer to be able to easily coat both hands.

Rub the hand sanitizer on the palms of your hand, the backs of your hands, between your fingers, and even the tips of your fingers under your nails (which should ideally be trimmed short.)

Also, continue rubbing in the hand sanitizer under it is fully dry.

It should also be noted that if your hands are too dirty, we are talking visible dirt or oil, the hand sanitizer will probably not be as effective as on visibly clean hands.

For these more heavy-duty dirty hand situations a thorough hand washing is more appropriate (which can then be followed by a hand sanitizer if needed.)

Hand sanitizer storage

As with store-bought sanitizers, you will want to store your homemade hand sanitizer out of reach of children and pets.

The alcohol inside the hand sanitizer can cause dangerous alcohol poisoning if ingested, and with small children, this can occur with as little as a pump or two of the mixture.

Be sure to properly label your homemade hand sanitizer storage container and store in a cool to room temperature and dry area, out of reach of little hands.

These hand sanitizer recipes contain high amounts of alcohol, which is flammable, so be aware of applying or storing your hand sanitizers in close proximity to open flames.


  • Keeping your hands clean is a good habit and public health responsibility for everyone, with or without a virus looming.
  • With the current lack of hand sanitizer availability, making your own at home can be an inexpensive, quick, and efficient way to make sure you have some hand sanitizer when you need it.
  • Keeping your hands clean and disinfected isn’t just a necessity for your health and peace of mind right now, but if everyone goes out of their way to maintain excellent hand cleanliness, the whole community will be better off for it.
  • So, mix up a batch of your new artisanal homemade hand sanitizer, and know that you are doing your part to prevent the spread of infectious diseases!
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