3 Ingredient, Alcohol-based Hand Sanitizer

Reader Contribution by Lyndsay Dawson Mynatt
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This recipe is not a substitute for cleaning solutions as recommended by the CDC. Please follow the CDC’s protocol on handwashing and disinfecting solutions to protect against COV-19 if absolute sterilization is required.

Washing hands with soap and water is the most effective way to kill germs, but let’s face it, that isn’t realistic on the go. With the scarcity of disinfectants and the need to continually combat germs, there is an urgent need for a solution. DIY sanitizers have gained recent controversial attention due to lack of FDA regulation, but demand outweighs supply. In my research, I discovered a basic formula with common household ingredients.

DIY hand sanitizer is a simple mixture of: isopropyl alcohol, Aloe vera gel and essential oil. Isopropyl alcohol is listed by the EPA as a product that meets criteria for use against SARS_COV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. The solution must be at least 70% alcohol to meet the standard. Note: rubbing alcohol is a mixture containing 68-72% isopropyl, so it can be substituted. The anti-inflammatory and soothing properties of Aloe vera balances the harshness of alcohol and essential oil adds a pleasant scent. Lavender, Tea Tree , PeppermintLemon or Young Living Thieves are my top choices for both scent and antibacterial properties.

According to the CDC, homemade sanitizers must be at least 60% alcohol to be effective. The optimum percentage of isopropyl alcohol is surprisingly 70% as it contains higher water content needed to permeate the cell wall to kill germs. The formula listed below contains a 3:1 ratio of alcohol to Aloe vera to keep the overall content of the alcohol in the mixture as high as possible but not too harsh.


  • ¾ cup 70% Isopropyl Alcohol or Rubbing Alcohol
  • ¼ cup Aloe Vera Gel
  • 10-15 drops essential oil 


  • Glass Measuring Cup
  • Whisk
  • Refill bottles with airtight lids 


1. Sanitize all equipment and surfaces prior to mixing.

2. Wash hands with soap and water.

3. Add isopropyl alcohol and aloe vera gel into glass measuring cup.

4. Whisk until blended into gel-like consistency.

5. Add essential oil to preferred scent, minimum of 10 drops recommended.

6. Pour mixture into refill bottles or a glass mason jar with an airtight lid.

7. Label bottles and date.

8. Let mixture set for 72 hours before using.

9. Store out of reach of children.

ISO alcohol evaporates over time. Most store-bought brands list an expiration date between two to three years. Treat the expiration of your homemade concoction with caution. If concerned, make smaller batches at the 3:1 ratio.

As with any new product, try a small amount on a patch of skin to test and monitor for 24 hours for any signs of rash or reaction. I found that the blend is well balanced with a pleasant scent and works in both refill plastic bottles as well as spray bottles. Alcohol will evaporate so it is essential for the lid to be airtight.

Good luck out there. Stay safe and healthy.

Lyndsay Dawson Mynatt is a dedicated forager, outdoor enthusiast, and blogger for MOTHER EARTH NEWS. Her published articles include: Build a DIY Cider Press in the 2015 September/October issue of GRIT and 5-Minute, 5-Ingredient Mayonnaise in the 2015 Best of MOTHER EARTH NEWS. Follow her adventures at A Faithful Journey, and read all of Lyndsay’s MOTHER EARTH NEWS posts here.

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