Learn how to make your own hand sanitizer at home with natural ingredients! This DIY hand sanitizer gel has a light texture and won’t dry your hands out. The alcohol-based hand rub recipe is made with moisturising aloe vera and essential oils, but also includes an alternative for homemade hand sanitizer without aloe vera.
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DIY hand sanitizer gel
How do you make homemade hand sanitizer gel? If you’re wondering how can I make hand sanitizer at home, you may be surprised by this DIY hand sanitizer gel recipe! My hand disinfectant is made with natural, skin-friendly ingredients and comes together in under 5 minutes.
I recently shared a DIY hand sanitizer spray, and you ladies asked for a gel version. So here it is! While the spray can be applied on hands and to disinfect surfaces, the homemade sanitizer gel is intended only for hands. Personally, I find the gel less drying than the spray. So that’s another plus!
I filled my DIY hand sanitizer gel into small cosmetic bottles that I can carry in my purse or jacket to have the hand sanitizer available when I can’t wash my hands.
Alright, let’s find out how to make hand sanitizer at home easy!
What is hand sanitizer?
A hand sanitizer, simply, is a liquid or gel that is used to reduce and kill microorganism on the hands. However, a hand sanitizer is not a replacement for washing hands with soap and water.
Hand sanitizer benefits
The benefits of hand sanitizer come into play when you don’t have access to a sink and can’t wash your hands with soap and water. The hand sanitizer is useful when your out and about, commute to work, shop groceries or visit the park with your kids.
Which hand sanitizer is most effective? – Facts about hand sanitizer effectiveness
Are hand sanitizers effective? The World Health Organization shares the following facts about hand sanitizers: “At present, alcohol-based hand rubs are the only known means for rapidly and effectively inactivating a wide array of potentially harmful microorganisms on hands.” (source)
According to the WHO, a hand sanitizer formulation must contain at least 60% alcohol for the best hand sanitizer effectiveness. Unfortunately, hand sanitizers that only have witch hazel with aloe vera and essential oils as ingredients aren’t sufficient to fight bacteria and germs.
Read on to learn more about how to make hand sanitizer with alcohol!
Homemade gel hand sanitizer with alcohol
To ensure your DIY gel hand sanitizer is as effective as possible, use high-proof alcohol. The lower the alcohol content, the more alcohol you have to use.
Here are a few options:
- isopropyl alcohol 99.9%
- ethyl alcohol 95%
- 190 proof Everclear (95% alcohol)
- Golden Grain (190 proof / 95% alcohol)
- Gem Clear 190 Proof (95% alcohol)
- Alchocol-95 (95% alcohol content)
- 151 proof Everclear (75.5% alcohol content)
- 150 proof vodka (75% alcohol content)
- rubbing alcohol / 70% isopropyl alcohol (70% alcohol content)
Everclear, Golden Grain, Gem Clear and Alchocol-95 are grain alcohols. Grain alcohols are neutral spirits with a 95% alcohol content, also called 190 proof. Some of these options may not be available depending on where you live.
Do essential oil hand sanitizers work?
First off, you don’t have to use essential oils – the DIY hand sanitizer is effective as is. As a trained aromatherapist, I believe that essential oils have countless health and skincare benefits. Essential oils such as tea tree, lavender, lemon, eucalyptus and clove bud are said to have potent antibacterial and antiviral properties, which are quite useful in a DIY hand sanitizer gel.
So, is it safe to make your own hand sanitizer?
Yes, as long the alcohol content in the end product is over 60%. Also please don’t sell homemade hand sanitizer! My recipe wasn’t lab-tested and is for personal use only!
DIY hand sanitizer gel ingredients
Making effective hand sanitizer gel requires two things: high-proof alcohol and aloe vera gel. To improve the DIY hand sanitizer gel, I added a few more ingredients but they are optional.
Here is the hand sanitizer ingredients list:
- 2/3 cup / 160 g / 5.7 oz high-proof alcohol (190 proof/95%)
- 1/3 cup / 65 g ml / 2.1 oz aloe vera gel
- 5 drops tea tree essential oil (optional)
- 5 drops lavender essential oil (optional)
- 1/2 tsp vitamin E oil (optional)
- 1/8 – 1/4 tsp xanthan gum (optional)
DIY Hand sanitizer without aloe vera gel
How do you make hand sanitizer without aloe vera? Aloe vera gel can be substituted with glycerin. Glycerin has excellent moisturizing qualities and will lessen the drying effect of the alcohol. The process of making the DIY hand sanitizer gel is the same.
How to make your own hand sanitizer
How do you make homemade hand sanitizer? You have your ingredients, time to make DIY hand sanitizer gel with them! It’s just 4 easy steps and 5 minutes!
Here is how to make gel alcohol hand sanitizer:
- Mix gel. Add alcohol, aloe vera gel, vitamin E oil and essential oils into a small mixing bowl and stir until well combined.
- Add xanthan gum. Sprinkle 1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon xanthan gum over the DIY hand sanitizer. Don’t dump the xanthan gum – otherwise, the liquid will be lumpy and not form a smooth gel.
- Whisk. Immediately whisk together the mixture. You don’t have to heat the gel as the xanthan gum dissolves in liquids of any temperature, and you will see results instantly.
- Store gel. Transfer the gel into squeezer bottles.
Can you believe how simple this homemade hand rub recipe is?!
How to thicken hand sanitizer
I used a little xanthan gum to thicken the DIY hand sanitizer gel. It’s perfectly fine to make the DIY hand rub without it, but the hand sanitizer might be rather liquid. The hand sanitizer gel you see in the photos was thickened with xanthan gum and has a wonderful, gel-like texture.
Hand sanitizer alternatives
Currently, many stores are out of hand sanitizer and high-proof alcohols. I just checked the availability of isopropyl alcohol on Amazon, and a lot has sold out. If that’s the case for you, you might be wondering: What are some hand sanitizer alternatives? How do you make natural hand sanitizer without alcohol?
- Wash your hands with water and soap – The best protection against contagious diseases and viruses is to wash your hands with soap and water as often as possible. Read this post to learn an easy antibacterial hand soap recipe and how to wash your hands properly.
- Essential oils – You can make a quick hand sanitizer with witch hazel and essential oils. My friend Laura from Our Oily House has a homemade hand disinfectant recipe that you can try. But as I mentioned, it won’t be as potent as an alcohol-based hand rub.
Storage and shelf life of DIY hand sanitizer gel
The high alcohol content will preserve our organic hand sanitizer for several months. A preservative for hand sanitizer isn’t necessary.
If your DIY hand sanitizer gel contains essential oils, keep the hand rub out of direct sunlight and away from any heat sources.
Printable Hand Sanitizer Gel Label
Tab or click the button to download your free printable hand rub labels!
Over to you!
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CSU I substitute argon oil for the vitamin E oil?
Hi Dora! Yes, you can do that. Happy making!
I am looking forward to trying this but i have the aloe vera juice, wlll i be able to thicken it up with the xanthan gum before adding the everclear?
Hi, Kat! I have never used aloe vera juice so I can’t promise if this works. The xanthan gum will thicken the aloe juice, but the Everclear might the mixture liquid again. I would use a little more xantha gum as suggested in the recipe. And if you have trouble combining the thickened the aloe juice and Everclear, try mixing the in a blender. I hope this helps and please let me know how it goes!
I tried this formula but each time I added the Xanthan Gum it did not thicken the mixture, it clumped into globules or it just sat at the bottom of the beaker. It would not emulsify. I tried to add the Xanthan Gum to the Aloe Vera first then slowly added the Isoproply Alcohol but it again formed globules.
Not sure what I am doing wrong????
Hi Bil! I’m sorry you have an issue. Some types of alcohol contain denaturants, which prohibit xanthan gum to thicken the sanitiser. A reader suggested to put the mixture into a blender and process until thick. You can still use the hand sanitizer as a spray if that doesn’t work.
I used a salt method to strengthen 50 percent rubing alcohol to above 60 percet and closer to 99. I put 1 tbs aloe soothing jel. Into a cup measure and filled with water to equal 1 third cup of combined liquid. I added 2 thirds of my strenghtened acohol. I used 2 capfuls of clear lax. The outcome was a liquid consistant with warm jellow before it sets up. That is all the thicer it will be if using isopropel alcohol. Food grade vodka or the like will thicken most likely but a chemical reaction occurs when isopropel alcohol is used and as soon as the xazthan comes into contact with it forming stronng threads and clumps that feel like plastic. The blender with water and xanthan and aloe worked great forming a nice frothy jell. Very apealing. And it failed when i added isopropel alcohol. Just thought i might share this. I have read others posts about similar experiences like mine.
Thank you so much for taking the time to share your insights!
Thanks Irene for posting this recipe. I’ve made my own hand sanitizer in the past and it came out perfect. Although, my husband purchased Aloe Vera with Xanthan gum. Adding that to the 99% Isopropyl Alcohol came out a mess! Last night, I put a cup worth of Aloe Vera with the Xanthan gum in a blender for a minute and it came out “frothy”. I added the alcohol and let it sit over night. It came out perfect. Do I add Vitamin E to the mix?
Hi Tori! Thank you for sharing these tips – using a blender is a great idea! If the recipe is perfect, I wouldn’t add vitamin E. Vitamin E can seize and clump in 99% isopropyl alcohol, so I wouldn’t risk it.
I tried this to thicken my hand sanitizer rub which was a ratio of 70% ethanol alcohol. The xanthan gum would not dissolve no matter how hard and long I whisked. I even heated it slightly and that didn’t help either.
Hi Nancy, I’m sorry your having an issue. Xanthan gum doesn’t need to be heated. Perhaps you can try what Tori suggested above and blend the hand sanitizer.
Xanthan gum needs to be mixed with heated oil prior to being added to liquid to prevent it from being clumpy. Shake vigorously once combined.
This is great
Thanks for the recipe for Gel Hand sanitiser. I tried to thicken the alcohol first with sodium polyacrylate but this was unsuccessful. I’m using aloe vera instead of glycerine. so from what i have read it would be prudent to mix the xanthan gum with the aloe Vera first or combine the Xanthum Gum after combining the ingredients. i am using 100% isopropyl alcohol.
Hi, Iain. Yes, it helps to mix the xanthan gum and the aloe before adding the alcohol. However, xanthan gum may not properly dissolve in 100% isopropyl alcohol. The hand sanitiser is still safe to use. You can use it as spray like I show in this post. Let me know how it goes!
Thanks for the recipe! I used vodka and had no issues. Love that the eos give a nice smell. I used pine and lemon and my boys love it!
Thanks for tying our recipe, Madeline! xx
I used vodka too and it worked. Like the gel more than the spray.
Thanks for sharing a great recipe however I’ve tried so many times now with how it is described and mines now forming into a nice gel like yours. Which is weird because the alcohol I’m using is high quality stuff at 99%. I don’t want to give up as I really wanna ace this and use it. It wouldn’t work better adding the glycerin to the gum first or? As yeh when I add the gum last it just doesn’t do anything not even thicken or anything. I haven’t tried it with aloe Vera yet only glycerin. If you could please help me I would be so thankful.
Hi Amanda, thank you so much for trying our recipe! Mixing the glycerin and xanthan gum first is a good idea. However, the high alcohol content can make it difficult for xanthan gum to set. The recipe worked well for some readers, while others have the same issue as you.
You can still use the hand sanitizer as a spray like I did in this recipe or to make hand wipes.
I hope that helps! xx
Hi. I love the recipe you have given and I have tried it but I must be doing something wrong. It’s like the xanthan gum does not want to dissolve? Do I not whisk it enough? The other batch I made was incredibly oily? I’ve even tried other recipes (same ingredients) but it clumps up in the mixing process. I need help
Hi Barbara, I’m sorry to hear that your experiencing an issue. What type of alcohol are you using?
Xanthan gum can be tricky as it tends to clump up, especially in rubbing alcohol. The key is to sprinkle only tiny amounts on the liquid. Gradually add more until you reach the desired consistency and mix between each addition.
And don’t throw away the hand sanitizer you already made, but strain it through a fine-mesh sieve to remove the lumps. The hand sanitizer will still be effective.
Please let me know how it goes!
I tried this recipe and it didn’t work at all. The xanthan gum didn’t clump, in fact it came out very smooth it just didn’t thicken even the slightest. I basically have sanitizer water. I even used almost 3 times the amount of xanthan gum and nothing.
Hi, Kim. I’m sorry you have this issue. I’ve made the gel many times in the past few weeks and never had this problem. What kind of alcohol did you use?
You can use the hand sanitizer regardless. If you have a spray bottle, use it has a hand sanitizer spray.
Thanks for the recipe! Are we able to add glycerin and aloe vera?
Hi Dana! Yes, you can add glycerin and aloe vera gel. If you’re using rubbing/isopropyl alcohol, glycerin is the better option as some aloe vera gels can clump up.
Great recipe! I like the aloe alternative. It’s not in stores yet, and I am out.
Thanks so much, Cari! Glycerin is a great alternative for aloe vera and works well in this recipe.
Yes, agree with Rebecca – definitely good to see a DIY that meets the CDC guidelines!
Many thanks, ladies! Creating safe recipes is so important!
Thanks for sharing a responsible recipe on making an effective hand sanitizer that meets the CDC guidelines for killing viruses! Great recipe.
Thank you, Rebecca! I worked quite a while on this recipe to get the formula right and meet the 60% threshold.