How to Make Hand Sanitizer at Home With Aloe Vera

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Written by Leigh Matthews, BA Hons, H.Dip. NT


Leigh Matthews, BA Hons, H.Dip. NT

Sustainability Expert

Leigh Matthews is a sustainability expert and long time vegan. Her work on solar policy has been published in Canada's National Observer.


Tired of throwing away plastic hand sanitizer bottle after bottle? Here is a quick and easy guide to making your own hand sanitizer.

If you’ve run out of hand sanitizer, don’t turn to the bottle of vodka in your liquor cabinet!

First off, vodka isn’t strong enough to kill bacteria and viruses. Second, getting good and drunk is bad for your immune system. Now that’s out of the way, here’s how to make hand sanitizer at home.

See also: Our top picks for organic reusable face masks

Hand sanitizer ingredient list

What you’ll need:

  • Isopropyl alcohol (99%)
  • Aloe vera gel
  • Tea tree oil or other antibacterial essential oil (a few drops)
  • Small bowl
  • Sterilized mixing funnel
  • Glass spray bottle

Aloe vera and tee tree oil hand sanitizer step by step

Time needed: 20 minutes

How to make your own aloe vera hand sanitizer at home

  1. Sterilize tools

    Use sterilized tools to make your mixture. To sterilize your equipment, boil mixing bowls, bottles, funnels, and spoons in water for five minutes or use hydrogen peroxide solution.

  2. Mix ingredients

    Once you’ve sterilized your equipment, mix 3-parts isopropyl alcohol to 1-part aloe vera gel in a small bowl, i.e. 3 tablespoons of isopropyl alcohol and 1 tablespoon aloe vera gel. Add three to five drops of tea tree oil or other essential oil like thyme or rosemary. These oils also have antibacterial activity and make the hand sanitizer smell good.

  3. Decant your mixture

    Decant your mixture, using your sterilized funnel, into a glass or BPA-free bottle suitable for dispensing gels. Better yet, try a glass spray bottle for easy use.

  4. Let settle

    Give the mixture a few days to settle in the bottle.

  5. Add a label

    Label the bottle so everyone around the house knows what it is.

Alternative recipes for hand sanitizer

If you want to get real fancy, the World Health Organization offers the following recipes for a sanitizing spray:

  • Ethanol 96%
  • Hydrogen peroxide 3%
  • Glycerol 98%
  • Sterile distilled or boiled cold water


  • Isopropyl alcohol 99.8%
  • Hydrogen peroxide 3%
  • Glycerol 98%
  • Sterile distilled or boiled cold water

The basic recipe for these is:

  • 1 2/3 cups of isopropyl alcohol
  • 2 teaspoons of glycerol.
  • 1 teaspoon hydrogen peroxide liquid
  • ¼ cup of distilled or boiled water (cold)

Once you’ve mixed up your concoction, decant it to a refillable glass spray bottle. Then, let your concoction stew for at least 3 days. That’s right. The World Health Organization recommends that you mix this up and then leave it to sit for 72 hours, so as to kill any microbes that may have been inadvertently introduced to the mix.

The hydrogen peroxide in these recipes is used to kill any contaminating bacteria in the solution but isn’t an active substance in the final product.

You can use these sprays to sterilize your hands and surfaces. To make a simple wipe, spray the solution onto a paper towel.

Can you use tea tree oil as a hand sanitizer?

As I mentioned a moment ago, you might want to add tea tree oil to your hand sanitizer. This is because the essential oil has antimicrobial properties (and smells nice). There’s some evidence from a 2013 study that tea tree oil could help stop the spread of influenza, but there’s far more evidence to support the use of isopropyl alcohol or ethanol.

Before you turn to tea tree oil alone as your natural hand sanitizer of choice, you might want to consider that tea tree oil can trigger allergic reactions in some people. Also, not all tea tree oil is the real deal, with some ‘essential oils’ diluted before sale. This would seriously affect any antimicrobial activity, while creating a false sense of security. Cost is also a consideration, with alcohol a cheap and effective antimicrobial compared to tea tree oil.

Notes of caution

Be very careful if you’re mixing up these solutions yourself as getting the measurements even slightly off may make your sanitizer ineffective or lead to serious skin irritation.

Speaking of which, don’t add perfumes or dyes to your concoction. These can cause allergic reactions and interfere with the hand sanitizer’s antimicrobial properties. Even when made correctly, hand sanitizer is extremely drying and can irritate sensitive skin. As such, do not apply hand sanitizer to babies or young children.

Even if you’ve made your own hand sanitizer at home, or have stocked up on Purell already, remember that washing your hands properly is still one of the best ways to stop the spread of viruses and bacteria. That, and coughing into your elbow, practicing social distancing, and self-isolating if you think you might be sick or have been exposed to someone who is. Also, listen to public health experts.

And, if you want to safely decontaminate your phone, laptop or other electronics, consider using an alcohol spray. This spray evaporates almost immediately and can actually help dry our waterlogged electronics. And it kills germs to boot!

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