Can I Make My Own Hand Sanitizer at Home?

Dear Dr Manny,

All of the stores and Amazon seem to be out of hand sanitizer and I like to keep some with me so if I am out with my family and do not have easy access to soap and water I have a safe alternative. Is it possible to make effective hand sanitizer at home?

This is a question that I have gotten many times in the last couple of weeks, especially since there appears to be shortages of hand sanitizers in retail stores, and when they are available, they are unusually limited to 2 small bottles per customer.

I have also seen in some stores, hand sanitizers being made by independent local stores that are not pharmacies.  This is a concern to me for several reasons.  Good old soap and water does the trick, and if you wash your hands frequently with soap and water, you eliminate some of your concerns regarding coronavirus.

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If you are thinking of doing this at home, be very careful since there are many recipes available online that can put you in harm’s way.  The basic ingredients for homemade hand sanitizer include rubbing alcohol or isopropyl (99% alcohol volume), aloe vera gel, and some essential oils such as tea tree oil or lavender oil.  The proportions should always be 2 to 1 alcohol to aloe vera which will keep the alcohol content to about 60%.

All of this mixture should be done in a clean space, using sterile techniques, as much as possible.  However, remember homemade hand sanitizers should only be considered in extreme situations, especially since it could lead to lack of efficacy, therefore, really not being an effective product to kill microbes.  It could also lead to skin irritations or burns and, definitely, should not be used on children.

Remember, there are also other germs that are not effectively killed by hand sanitizers, so please be careful.

If you are thinking of making such a product at home, please consult your doctor first.

But remember soap and water does the trick!

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