Nothing beats good old-fashioned handwashing when it comes to preventing the spread of infectious diseases like COVID-19.
If you don’t have access to water or soap, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.
To make your own hand sanitizer at home, you only need three ingredients. Continue reading to learn how.
Word of caution
Hand sanitizer recipes, such as the one below, are intended for use by professionals who have the necessary expertise and resources to ensure that they are safe to make and use.
Hand sanitizers made at home should only be used in extreme situations where handwashing isn’t possible in the near future.
Do not use homemade hand sanitizers on children’s skin because they are more likely to misuse them, putting them at risk of injury.
What are the ingredients you’ll need?
It’s simple to make your own hand sanitizer with only a few ingredients:
- rubbing alcohol or isopropyl alcohol (99 percent alcohol volume)
- an essential oil, such as tea tree oil or lavender oil, or you can use lemon juice instead
The key to making an effective, germ-fighting hand sanitizer is to use a 2:1 alcohol to aloe vera ratio. As a result, the alcohol content stays around 60%. According to the CDC, this is the bare minimum required to kill most germs.
What’s the best way to make your own hand sanitizer?
This hand sanitizing formula was shared by Jagdish Khubchandani, PhD, associate professor of health science at Ball State University.
His hand sanitizer contains the following ingredients:
- 2 parts isopropyl alcohol or ethanol (alcohol content: 91–99%)
- a few drops of clove, eucalyptus, peppermint, or other essential oil 1 part aloe vera gel
If you’re making hand sanitizer at home, Khubchandani recommends following these guidelines:
- Make the hand sanitizer in a clean space. Before you start, wipe down the counters with a diluted bleach solution.
- Before you make the hand sanitizer, make sure you wash your hands thoroughly.
- Use a clean spoon and a whisk to combine the ingredients. Before using these items, make sure they’re completely clean.
- Make sure the alcohol in the hand sanitizer isn’t watered down.
- Combine all of the ingredients in a large mixing bowl and stir until well combined.
Keep your hands away from the mixture until it’s ready to use.
Is it safe?
These days, DIY hand sanitizer recipes abound on the internet — but are they safe?
Professionals with the expertise and resources to safely make homemade hand sanitizers should use these recipes, including the ones listed above.
Only use homemade hand sanitizer in emergency situations when you won’t be able to wash your hands for a long time.
Inadequate ingredients or proportions can result in:
skin irritation, injury, or burns exposure to hazardous chemicals via inhalation lack of efficacy, implying that the sanitizer may not effectively eliminate the risk of exposure to some or all microbes
Hand sanitizer made at home is also not recommended for children. Children may be more prone to using hand sanitizer incorrectly, putting them at risk of injury.
What is the best way to use hand sanitizer?
When using hand sanitizer, there are two things to keep in mind:
Rub it into your skin until your hands are completely dry.
If your hands are greasy or dirty, wash them with soap and water first.
With that in mind, here are some pointers on how to effectively use hand sanitizer.
One hand’s palm should be sprayed or applied with the sanitizer.
Rub your hands together vigorously. Cover the entire surface of your hands as well as all of your fingers.
Rub for another 30 to 60 seconds, or until your hands are completely dry. Hand sanitizer takes at least 60 seconds, and sometimes even longer, to kill most germs.
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