Remember when we all stockpiled hand sanitizer at the beginning of the pandemic? Well, those early chaotic (and strictly socially distanced!) days might be behind us, but keeping our hands safe and clean is here to stay. Germs have been always part of our lives. However, thanks to the coronavirus, it seems that we’re concerned more so than ever with keeping our hands consistently clean. While washing hands with good ol’ soap and water is still the most effective way of eliminating germs, using a hand sanitizer spray is the next best thing. Unlike soap, hand sanitizer sprays are easy to carry with you wherever you go. The even better news: If the situation of stores selling out of brand-name sanitizers ever arises again, you can learn how to make hand sanitizer spray at home.
And, no, you don’t have to be Martha Stewart to whip up a liquid hand sanitizer spray using your favorite scent. If you ever wondered how to make an affordable, simple, and kid-friendly sanitizer at home, read on for a safe hand sanitizer spray recipe.
A Hand Sanitizer Spray That’s Safe for Kids
How do you know that your homemade liquid home sanitizer spray is safe and effective for kids? First, it needs rubbing alcohol. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), you should choose an alcohol-based hand sanitizer spray with at least 60 percent alcohol for maximum effectiveness.
However, you want to make sure that the scents used, especially when using essential oils, are safe for your kids. Although essential oils can be beneficial for children, it’s vital to know how to use them safely, particularly since children tend to have more adverse reactions to essential oils than adults. Oils must always be diluted in a solution and never applied directly onto the skin. You can add essential oils to carrier oils, distilled water, and lotions instead. And even so, a patch test is always a smart idea when using essential oils. Applying the oil to a small area of skin and waiting 24 hours is a solid rule of thumb.
Worried that your kiddo might try to eat or lick the hand sanitizer? (We’ve been there, too.) Since that could be potentially dangerous, you should spritz the hand sanitizer spray on your child directly. Also, keep your spray bottles in a secure place where your children cannot access them.
DIY Hand Sanitizer Spray Recipe
If you want to know how to make your own scented hand sanitizer spray, you’ll be happy to hear it’s pretty easy. All it takes is three ingredients: rubbing alcohol (or isopropyl alcohol), vegetable glycerin, and essential oils. The rubbing alcohol is what helps keeps your hands germ-free. The glycerin (which can also be substituted with aloe vera gel) is used to help keep your hands hydrated and prevents the alcohol from drying them out. The essential oils are to imbue the sanitizer spray with a lovely scent. Depending on the essential oils used, they might also boost the antibacterial properties of your homemade hand sanitizer. Of course, you don’t have to use an essential oil either — it’s entirely up to you!
Here’s what you’ll need to make your very own hand sanitizer spray. You can switch up the ratios below, but remember you must keep the spray at least 60 percent alcohol for it to be effective.
Antimicrobial Essential Oils:
- Tea Tree
- Peppermint (Note: Do not use peppermint essential oil directly on children 30 months or under)
- Two-thirds cup 99 percent isopropyl alcohol (rubbing alcohol)
- One-third cup glycerin
- 20 drops of essential oil (optional)
- Spray bottle
- Add the glycerin and essential oils to your spray bottle. Add the alcohol until the bottle is almost filled. Place the cap on the bottle and shake well to combine the ingredients.
- Let your mixture sit for a minimum of 72 hours so that the sanitizer has time to kill any bacteria possibly introduced during the mixing process.
- Shake the bottle and use it!
How long does homemade hand sanitizer spray last?
Whether you made or bought it, hand sanitizer spray doesn’t last forever. It’s good for about three years. This happens because once the alcohol content dissolves and goes below 60 percent, it can’t kill off as many germs. We don’t mean to throw out unopened hand sanitizer spray — especially if it’s your only option — because some alcohol content is still better than none.
Does adding witch hazel to hand sanitizer spray kill bacteria?
Witch hazel may smell a bit like alcohol or a cleaning agent, and you may even use it as a facial cleanser, but it isn’t a disinfectant. It won’t kill the bacteria or viruses that live on your hands or tabletop. It can, however, be used for other things like reducing inflammation or irritation.
Hand Sanitizer Ingredients to Avoid
To keep your DIY hand sanitizer ingredients safe and kid-friendly, avoid adding these ingredients to your solution.
- Triclosan. This is a synthetic pesticide that’s usually in soaps or deodorants. But in 2016, the FDA banned it from being used in bacterial soaps.
- Fragrance. We’re not saying you can’t add any fragrances, but depending on the person, it can cause allergies or trigger their asthma.
- Sodium Lauryl Sulfate. This ingredient can cause skin irritation depending on the person’s sensitivity.
- Artificial Dyes. Some of these dyes come from petroleum-based products and can harm the human body or cause allergic reactions.
- 1-Propyl alcohol. Although hand sanitizer isn’t supposed to be consumed, this substance can cause shortness of breath and lower heart rate if it is. If exposed to your eyes or skin, it can also cause irritation. In the event of a negative reaction, seek medical attention immediately.