Are you in love with the natural hand sanitizing sprays on the market scented with essential oils, but not the price?
I know I am. It seems that my whole family goes through bottles of EO and Dr. Bronner’s hand sanitizers almost quickly as we do tissue! And at $3.99 a pop for about 1 oz. they aren’t cheap, but they are soooo much better than the alternative — those nasty gel sanitizers made of synthetic chemicals full of ingredients that, well, really don’t seem to be that “clean” or safe for you.
I got tired of laying out cash on hand sanitizers, so I got with the program and finally started making my own. It’s really easy and fast! Let me show you how to make some.
2 ounces (60 ml.) 120-proof vodka
6 – 36 drops of lavender essential oil
Optional: 15 – 20 drops of vegetable glycerin
Makes about 2 ounces (60 ml.) of lavender hand sanitizing spray.
WHY THE INGREDIENTS WORK
Now, I know what you’re thinking. You’re probably wondering why on earth I’m using vodka. Well, because it’s an alcohol, it has natural inherent antiseptic properties, so it’s fantastic at killing germs. And most vodkas are made using natural resources. Plus, vodka has lots of interesting household and personal care uses and can be used to clean so many things as I talk about in “10 Smashing Reasons to Give Vodka a Shot! (No Mixed Drinks Included).” So once you crack open a bottle, you’ll be able to use it lots of ways!
The same goes for lavender essential oil. You can use it in DIY spa-at-home products (e.g., DIY Lavender Body Scrub), green cleaning recipes, and of course, for aromatherapy. It won’t be something that just sits in your cupboard. Also, lavender essential oil is great for the skin and also has antibacterial, antimicrobial, and antiseptic properties, so it’s perfect in a hand sanitizer.
By the way, if you use another kind of alcohol with a stronger proof, you’re going to want to add some water so it’s not too strong. I prefer distilled water instead of plain H20 as studies have shown it to be effective for zapping pathogens as I discuss in detail in this post, “Which of These 10 Ways is the Best Way to Wash Your Produce?” But if you don’t have any on hand, then use a filtered or bottled water and as a last resort, tap water.
I like adding glycerin to this recipe because it acts as a natural preservative and is a humectant, meaning it draws moisture to the skin. Therefore, it helps counteract any drying action the alcohol may have.
Note: Dr. Bronner’s and EO hand sanitizers use 62% pure alcohol in their blends, so I aimed for a 60% alcohol to 40% water ratio to make sure they were effective at killing germs. 120-proof vodka is 60% alcohol and 40% water. So, if you’re using a different alcohol or vodka with a different proof, adjust the recipe accordingly.
WHERE TO PURCHASE INGREDIENTS & SUPPLIES
Vegetable glycerin, essential oils, and empty glass spray bottles are available at most natural grocery stores, such as Whole Foods Market, and many online retailers, such as Amazon and Mountain Rose Herbs.
HOW TO MAKE YOUR OWN ALL NATURAL HAND SANITIZER
1. First, you need some containers to put your natural hand sanitizer in. Because I had a few empty EO and Dr. Bronner’s bottles laying around (got a junk drawer full of ’em), I simply reused those. But I wouldn’t reuse spray bottles from synthetic hand sanitizers. Instead, I’d use some glass cobalt blue or amber spray bottles, which are often available in your local natural grocery stores next to the essential oil section. Also, before using them, wash them with warm soapy water and then sterilize them.
2. Pour the vodka into your hand sanitizer bottle first so that the essential oils will incorporate more easily that way.
3. Add in the essential oil drops. If making the hand sanitizer for children, the elderly, or pregnant women, use 6 drops to 12 drops of essential oil (a 0.5% to 1% dilution). Otherwise, use 36 drops, which is a 3% dilution.
4. If desired, add in vegetable glycerin. Play around with proportions a bit as I found that depending on how dry your hands are to start with, you may prefer more or less of it. For example, I found about 15 – 20 drops of glycerin to be perfect, but my teenage daughter found it to be too much — probably due to that youthful beautiful skin of hers! So, if you find that your hand sanitizer leaves a sticky feeling on your skin, then you added in too much glycerin. Shake, cap, and test before adding more drops to get it to your liking.
5. Close tightly and shake well. Voilà! You’re done!
Instead of just lavender essential oil, you can also try blending it with some other essential oils, such as orange, bergamot, or grapefruit. Peppermint is also a great option as it is naturally revitalizing.
Also, I’ve seen other recipes using aloe vera gel and even aloe vera juice in place of water, which may add some more moisturizing components to the recipe. However, since Dr. Bronner’s hand sanitizer uses just alcohol, water, glycerin, and essential oil, I stuck with the basics for the above recipe.
I put off making my own hand sanitizer for quite some time (even though I knew how to do it. I know, excuses, excuses!), but once I made it part of a routine, such as when I make my kids lunches, I found it easier to incorporate. It also made sense to do it that way since they carry hand sanitizer to school with them. In addition, I found making a big batch of this recipe and storing the remainder in a tightly lidded glass container, made frequent refills so much easier. Also, storing the ingredients in my kitchen cupboard for easy access made a huge difference.
Note: The above recipe was updated July of 2015. Previous measurements [i.e., 1 ounce + 1¼ teaspoons (36 ml.) of vodka + 4¾ teaspoons (24 milliliters) of water] were erroneously based on the assumption that most vodkas were close to 100% alcohol. So, if you do use a vodka with a different proof, adjust accordingly.
Copyright © Karen Peltier and Well Gal, 2014 – 2016. All rights reserved.
Photos © Karen Peltier and Well Gal, 2014 – 2016.