Oooh, Burn! DIY Hand Sanitizer Recipe

With three kids, you know we go through a lot of hand sanitizer, especially during cold and flu season. Recently I found a recipe for homemade hand sanitizer on the boards and decided to give it a try. The photo on Pinterest looks like this:

What You Need:

  • 1/3 cup of aloe Vera gel
  • 2/3 cup of 99% rubbing alcohol
  • 8-10 drops of essential oil (such as vanilla, lavender, grapefruit, peppermint, etc.)
  • One small mixing bowl and spoon
  • Recycled liquid soap bottle
  • Funnel


So, I assembled those things. I had a bit of trouble finding 99% isopropyl alcohol locally, so I went with 91%. I had actually seen a report not too long ago on the efficacy of store-bought hand sanitizer that said that 90% or above alcohol would kill bacteria.

Then I  mixed them in a large measuring cup.

Right from the start, I was not pleased. I hadn’t planned on using any scent, figuring that the scent of the aloe vera gel would be enough in itself. But this mixture smelled like pure alcohol. Plus, I didn’t like the consistency, which was more like alcohol than gel.

Since I didn’t have any oil, I added vanilla extract, which did cut the smell somewhat, but not so much that it smelled anything like vanilla.

In order to get the consistency of OTC hand sanitizer, I tried adding more gel, until I had added a whole cup of the stuff.

Then I poured part of it into a little bottle.

It was still like water though. And it smelled like an operating room. But the worst part was that it burned! Oh my heavens, it burns the skin. I would not put this stuff on a child. Plus, I would hate to feel the pain of this stuff hitting a paper cut or those winter chilblains. It would make your hair stand on end I think. I kept thinking of Gollum in The Lord of the Rings: “It hurts us! It burns us!” And I’m not even the kind of nerd for whom LOTR is a go-to reference.

My opinion? Bunk. Beyond the first bottle, I poured the rest down the drain. If you are going to use hand sanitizer (and if you’ve seen Soderbergh’s Contagion, I know you are) you’re better off buying it at the store. Stock up right after back-to-school time, and it will surely be cheaper than making it yourself.