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DISCLAIMER: This homemade hand sanitiser recipe is not a substitute for proper handwashing. And while this home recipe contains common natural antibacterial ingredients, it has never been tested in a lab to determine it’s efficacy against viruses such as coronavirus. This recipe does not include the 60%+ alcohol content that is recommended for hand sanitiser to properly kill coronavirus. A recipe that contains this level of alcohol can be found through the World Health Organization.
Last year I made some homemade hand sanitiser that I have been meaning to share with you. I have two young kids, aged 4 and 8. Whilst my kids are great at getting into messes when we’re out and about, I have to hold my hands up and say I’m an expert at it too!
Also, have you seen the original Trainspotting movie? If so, then you’ll know the scene with the worst toilet in Scotland. Admittedly, whilst not as bad as that toilet, I’ve definitely found a few contenders in and around Edinburgh. Whilst I would always prefer to wash my hands with soap and water, hand sanitiser is definitely a handy thing to carry in those times.
I spent a little while searching on the internet for hand sanitiser in a glass bottle, but the only thing I could find was a £16 bottle from Aesop. Not having the budget or inclination to spend £16 on hand sanitiser I decided it must surely be easier and infinitely cheaper to make my own. So I set about rummaging through my cleaning product ingredients box to see what I had to hand.
What I Found Was:
Witch hazel, made from the bark and leaves of a plant called Hamamelis virginiana. This is a medicine cupboard staple that’s easily picked up really cheaply in most chemists and supermarkets. It’s around £2 a bottle, which will make 3 bottles of hand sanitiser.
If you don’t have any witch hazel then feel free to substitute for cheap vodka. It will push the cost up a little – but if it’s what you have to hand then it will also do the job as it’s alcohol content makes vodka a great germ killer.
I chose lemongrass essential oil for this homemade hand sanitiser recipe because of it’s proven antibacterial action. This scientific study showed that lemongrass oil is even effective against drug-resistant organisms, making it a great choice of oil for a hand sanitiser.
Please note, lemongrass essential oil can be too strong for sensitive skins. If you are sensitive to lemongrass, consider another essential oil with germ-killing properties, such as tea tree oil.
I also chose lavender essential oil for its antibacterial action, which has proven effective against e-coli and MRSA in scientific studies.
My recipe hasn’t been tested in a lab, so I can’t make any claims to its effectiveness other than anecdotally, but if you’re keen to give it a go here’s how to make it:
Lemongrass & Lavender Homemade Hand Sanitiser
Makes 100 ml
100 ml glass spray bottle (use an old one if you have one. You can also use an old plastic bottle. Sometimes over time, the essential oils can eat away at the plastic so just be mindful of that, but if there’s less chance of it breaking in your bag then it’s a better choice).
60 ml witch hazel (I got mine in glass bottle from Sainsbury’s for £2)
15 drops Lemongrass essential oil
15 drops Lavender essential oil
1 teaspoon Vitamin E oil (optional – added for its moisturising properties)
40 ml cooled boiled water
If you are using the vitamin e oil, then add it to your clean, dry empty bottle, before adding your essential oils. Otherwise, simply add your essential oils to the empty bottle.
Next, add the witch hazel and cooled boiled water, and add the spray nozzle.
Usage & Storage
Before usage, I would always recommend doing a patch test on a small area of your skin, to test for any sensitivities. If after 24 hours there has been no reaction then you should be good to continue usage.
Before each use, shake the bottle well to combine everything and spray your hands a few times. Rub your hands together until they are dry. Do not use on broken skin.
The hand sanitiser has a 1.5% dilution and is safe to use for adults. If you want it stronger, you can go up to 20 drops of each essential oil (a 2% dilution), but I wouldn’t recommend going any higher than that.
Your homemade hand sanitiser will have a shelf life of around 6-8 weeks, but if it starts to look funny or smell funny before that period, it’s best to discard it and make a new batch.
Homemade Hand Sanitiser for Kids
If you want to use it on small children from aged 2 and upwards, I’d always recommend doing a bit of reading on essential oils. I would also recommend using no more than 10 drops of lemongrass essential oil and 10 drops of lavender essential oil. This is a 1% dilution of the oils. Again, do not use on unbroken skin.
Essential oils aren’t recommended for use on children younger than two. Again, doing a bit of research on essential oils if you decide you want to is always highly recommended.
As always, keep your essential oils and the finished product out the reach of children, and only use under direct adult supervision.
Notes on Good Hand Hygiene
Whilst hand sanitiser is good in a pinch, the single most effective way of removing germs from your hands is to wash your hands with warm water and soap. My top tip is to use hand sanitiser when you don’t have access to running water and soap, but to make sure you wash your hands as soon as you can.
The NHS has some good advice on how to wash your hands properly – apparently singing happy birthday twice helps you gauge the length of time you should be washing for!
ps: here are some other things you can DIY with the same ingredients for maximum bang for buck!