I’m a big believer in hand washing as the best way to ward off colds and the flu. If I don’t find myself in a place where I can wash my hands, then I’m glad to have this all-natural hand sanitizer made with aloe vera, witch hazel and Thieves Oil. Store-bought hand sanitizers usually contain alcohol, artificial fragrance, and lab-created ingredients.
I don’t know about you, but putting those ingredients on my skin sure doesn’t make me feel clean and studies have shown them to be harmful. This natural hand sanitizer recipe packs a big punch at cleaning while softening my hands and keeping them free from unnecessary chemicals.
First, When to Use Hand Sanitizer.
If you have come to this recipe looking for an antibacterial hand sanitizer to kill off viruses, please be sure to read this first.
You may have recently visited health care facilities like hospitals and nursing homes, and noticed the pumps of antibacterial hand sanitizer attached to the wall at the entrance and exits. It’s an easy way for people to be mindful of the germs they are bringing in with them and help them to stop the spread to those who are vulnerable.
There are usually also sinks with soap at healthcare facilities, but the soap is often also antibacterial. I don’t use antibacterial products in my home as even the FDA doesn’t recommend it. But when I am in these medical facilities, I always follow the protocol to prevent the spread of disease so I will use it in that case.
Everything in moderation, right?
The rest of the time, I opt to wash my hands with soap and water. Studies show that bar soap is as effective at washing away germs as any antibacterial product. Even more, a 2016 FDA report states that the ingredients in antibacterial hand wash “are not generally recognized as safe and effective”.
Unfortunately, a sink with running water and a bar of soap doesn’t come in one of those handy dandy squeeze bottles like hand sanitizer does.
When I can’t wash with soap, I use an all-natural hand sanitizer to “wash” my hands and then rinse them when I get near a sink again. I keep a bottle in my purse for when I get off transit, am at a campsite and there is no sink, or I’m just out and about for the day.
Updated March 13, 2020: This recipe was originally published in 2015 and has been a staple in my household and many others for years now. In the past month, the world has become much more aware of hand washing and sanitation due to the spread of Covid-19. While this recipe and my recommendations for proper hand washing from 2015 remain unchanged, In addition, I have formulated a 70% alcohol-based hand sanitizer that can be used on hands and surfaces. Get the recipe here: DIY Hand Sanitizer Spray (Alcohol Based).
The Thieve’s Oil Legend and Safe Use
You may have heard about Thieves Oil, an essential oil blend of clove, lemon, cinnamon, eucalyptus, and rosemary. The story behind this blend is that a band of fifteenth-century thieves remained in tip-top health despite ransacking the riches from the graves of those who had died from the bubonic plague.
When they were captured, they were traded leniency in their sentence for sharing the secret to their impervious health. The legend of Thieves Oil was born.
Whether you believe the story or not, I personally prefer a homemade product over one filled with ingredients I don’t recognize. Hand sanitizer is one of those products that I love to have a more natural version of.
Please note that essential oils are potent and can be harmful to some. There is much misinformation out there around essential oils as miracle cures for all sorts of ailments and irresponsible use (like consuming essential oils). Also it’s important to look at the blend of oils you use.
Thieves Oil contains clove, rosemary, and eucalyptus oils which are not safe for use on small children. Use this hand sanitizer on grown-ups only, please. You can replace clove, rosemary and eucalyptus oils with lavender, sweet orange, and fir oils if you plan to use it around children six months and older (no essential oils are recommended for use with babies younger than six months).
You can buy a Thieves Oil blend or make your own from this recipe.
Thieves Oil Blend Recipe
- 10 drops of Clove Essential Oil
- 9 drops of Lemon Essential Oil
- 5 drops of Cinnamon Essential Oil
- 4 drops of Eucalyptus Essential Oil
- 3 drops of Rosemary Essential Oil
Homemade Hand Sanitizer Recipe
This homemade recipe is easy to make and can be carried anywhere. Think of it like a bar of soap to go! Aloe vera and witch hazel are wonderful for your skin as well, so it won’t dry out your hands like the alcohol based version. Makes 1 cup
- 1/3 cup pure witch hazel
- 2/3 cup 100% pure aloe vera gel
- 15 drops Thieves essential oil blend or (5 drops of Clove Essential Oil, 4 drops of Lemon Essential Oil, 3 drops of Cinnamon Essential Oil, 2 drops of Eucalyptus Essential Oil, 1 drop of Rosemary Essential Oil)
- 1 capsule of Vitamin E oil
Mix witch hazel and aloe vera gel together in a bowl. Add essential oils and mix well, then open the vitamin E capsule and empty that into the gel. Mix it all together well, then use a funnel to pour it into a pump or other container (I found these Gotoobs that are perfect!).
How to Use Natural Hand Sanitizer
Shake the bottle of homemade hand sanitizer well before each use.
Squeeze a dime-sized amount on the palm of your hand and massage in. I
t will feel sticky at first but it will absorb cleanly in no time.
Your hands will feel dry, clean, and smell terrific.
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