In many places hand sanitizer is the first thing selling out this flu season.
Panic surrounding the virus that causes COVID-19 has resulted in a chaotic atmosphere and empty shelves at many grocery stores. Walk down the soap and hand sanitizer aisle and they have been completely picked over. According to the CDC the most effective way to avoid transmission of flu and cold viruses is to simply wash your hands well and often using soap. However, as a backup hand sanitizer can also be used, especially as a last resort if soap and water aren’t available. Even if your local stores are out of hand sanitizer, you can actually make it at home very simply- and it only takes a few ingredients.
To make homemade hand sanitizer you will need 2 parts of 99% rubbing alcohol (isopropyl alcohol) to one part plain aloe vera gel. Combine these two ingredients well and pour into a properly cleaned liquid soap, hand sanitizer, or lotion bottle. Do not use rubbing alcohol with a lower percentage of alcohol. The final formulation needs to contain 60% alcohol which can be best achieved by using 2 parts 99% rubbing alcohol to one part aloe gel.
This recipe has been shared on social media, but this recipe comes from biomedical sciences doctorate, Anne Marie Helmenstine, Ph.D., who wrote up the instructions for ThoughtCo.
You can add 5-10 drops of your favorite essential oil to the mix for scent, but it isn’t required at all. It’s worth noting at this point that some essential oils aren’t great for pets, so add this optional ingredient only if you think you won’t be handling any fur babies or other pets.
Helmenstine advises that the addition of antimicrobial essential oils (like tea tree and peppermint) can irritate skin if added in too high of quantities. She also says that adding a less astringent oil like chamomile could have a soothing effect on skin. You’ll also want to consider the scent. Choosing a scent that you enjoy will mean that you are more likely to use the sanitizer and it will be less of a chore to use.
With this simple recipe you can always have some hand sanitizer at the ready, even if grocery stores and pharmacies have sold out of this cold and flu season mainstay. We could also see using this recipe to save yourself a trip to the store right before a camping trip. It’s nice to have these kinds of tricks up your sleeves for those unexpected situations.