DIY Natural Hand Sanitizer

Last updated 05/9/2020 | |

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When you can't wash with soap, this DIY natural hand sanitizer is your best choice. It softens skin while killing germs, and costs only pennies to make.

hand pumping sanitizer onto open hand

"I'm not a germophobe, but I play one on the internet." (If you're under 30, ask someone to explain.)

man in suit

We're one of those "dirt can't hurt" families. I don't wipe down the counters with bleach solution, and I don't have one of those chemical pucks in the toilets. Our house is clean enough to be healthy, and dirty enough to be happy.

However, I don't need to tell you that hand sanitizer is a huge seller. The Stinky Bath Stuff store probably has 20 different scents and flavors, all filled with a variety of suspicious chemicals.

Washing with regular (not antibacterial) soap is the best choice, but there are some times when sanitizer is just plain handy. (Get it?)

This safe, natural hand sanitizer recipe doesn't use alcohol, and replaces the chemicals in store brands with essential oils. It's easy to make, and costs much less than the chemical-laden brands.

hand pumping sanitizer onto open hand

Natural Hand Sanitizer

1/2 cup aloe vera gel (not juice or liquid)

1/4 cup witch hazel

6-8 drops each, Tea tree and Lemon essential oils


12 drops OnGuard essential oil blend.

Measure the aloe vera gel and witch hazel into your measuring cup. Give it a stir and add a bit more witch hazel if it seems too thick.

Then add your essential oils. Start with six drops each and then add more of one or the other until you reach a scent combination/intensity you like.

Stir again and pour into your recycled pump bottle.

pouring gel into jar through funnel

You don't need too much--a dime-sized blob is enough. The aloe vera gel will moisturize your hands, and the witch hazel and essential oils will help fight germs.

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Hi, I’m Pam! I created Brown Thumb Mama to share my natural living journey, and help you live a greener life. Thanks for being here, and please check out the resources in my Natural Living Shop!


  1. Becky on July 24, 2018 at 2:33 pm

    Thanks for this recipe!! I’m a mobile phlebotomist & have been using store bought sanitizer that was drying out my hands severely & suffering dry cracks that bleed! I now make this & LOVE it!! It’s GREAT for my hands!! THANKS AGAIN FOR SHARING!! LOVE your site!!

    • Pam on July 30, 2018 at 3:15 pm

      Yay, I’m so glad you like it!

  2. janet on April 14, 2014 at 5:51 pm

    Do you know the shelf life for this mixture? It works great! Love it.

    • Pam on April 14, 2014 at 8:05 pm

      I make small batches and we always use it up within a month, so I know it will keep that long without a problem. Beyond that, I’m not sure!

  3. SueO on January 3, 2014 at 9:02 pm

    I use Thayers Rose Petal Witch Hazel with aloe. It is alcohol free, and a wonderful toner to use daily. There are other scents available, and also an unscented, if you prefer. Hope this helps.

  4. Anon on December 15, 2013 at 12:27 pm

    I have yet to find a witch hazel that does not contain alcohol. If someone knows of one, I’d like to know. I have two children severely allergic to alcohol.

    • janet on March 29, 2014 at 8:22 am

      I have found a brand of Witch hazel that is alcohol-free. The brand is Thayers Natural Remedies and I got it at Earth Fare. It is unscented but does contain aloe vera. The brand had several different formulas to choose from. Hope this helps!


      • Colleen McCaffrey on September 9, 2015 at 1:46 pm

        Thank you so much for asking and answering this question. I am allergic to alcohol, too, and trying to find even herbal skin care with out any kind of alcohol is terribly hard.

  5. Unknown on April 26, 2013 at 9:49 am

    Quick question, I bought Witch Hazel tonight and just realized that is contains 14% alcohol? Can I still this Witch Hazel or shall I look for another one? Thank you.

  6. Becca @ The Earthlings Handbook on March 14, 2013 at 9:30 pm

    Um, do you have any references at all for the germ-killing power of this solution? I know tea tree oil kills germs when it’s full strength, but how well does it work at this dilution? If you can’t find any published science on the subject, you could at least try a handwashing experiment to compare it to washing with soap and water.

    I work for a health-care system that does occasional research on alcohol-based hand sanitizer vs. soap and water in a medical context, so although this isn’t my field I’ve read quite a bit about it as the studies are reported in the employee newsletter. So far those two methods are running about neck and neck overall, with each being better for different specific situations. But alcohol has a long history of effective germ-killing, and the alcohol concentration in hand sanitizer is pretty high. I wouldn’t trust another sanitizer without seeing some science!

    • Brown Thumb Mama on March 15, 2013 at 5:13 pm

      Good point! I’ve emailed you directly to see if you have suggestions on how to get it scientifically tested. Thanks for your comment!

  7. Becky Elmuccio on March 12, 2013 at 10:03 am

    I have witch hazel in the house and I never know what to do with it. Now I do! Thanks for sharing on Tuesday Greens!

  8. Hannah White on February 26, 2013 at 1:53 pm

    Thanks so much for linking up with us at Eco-Kids Tuesday! I featured your post today. Hope you come back and share more with us!

  9. Prinwest Trade on February 25, 2013 at 9:15 pm

    You can also use Amber powder

  10. Lea H @ Nourishing Treasures on February 25, 2013 at 12:59 am

    Thank you for your submission on Nourishing Treasures’ Make Your Own! Monday link-up.

    Check back tomorrow when the new link-up is running to see if you were one of the top 3 featured posts! 🙂

  11. Mariel on February 23, 2013 at 4:53 am

    Love this! Thanks for sharing at the ‘Or so she says…’ link party! I’ve actually chosen this as a special feature for the weekend. Stop back and check it out, and of course to share more of your great ideas.

    Have a great weekend 🙂


  12. Faith @ Artistic31Mama on February 21, 2013 at 10:52 pm

    I just pinned this!! Thanks so much! I have eczema and the “germ-X” hand sanitizers are so harsh on my hands and washing them with soap and water in the winter makes my skin so dry and cracked. I will definitely be trying this!

    I’m visiting from Growing Home link up, and I’m a new follower.

    • Anonymous on February 22, 2013 at 5:02 pm

      Have you tried Made On hard lotions for your eczema? It is all natural and many people have had good results.

    • Brown Thumb Mama on February 22, 2013 at 7:00 pm

      That’s exactly what I was going to suggest! Thanks for the tip, anon!

  13. Lisa Lynn on February 20, 2013 at 8:13 pm

    I would love to have you share this on The HomeAcre Hop tonight!

  14. Natural Mothers Network on February 20, 2013 at 4:10 pm

    I Love this! Thank you for sharing your hand sanitizer recipe with us and I hope to welcome you over at Seasonal Celebration again today! Rebecca @Natural Mothers Network x

  15. Lisa Lynn on February 20, 2013 at 2:56 pm

    Thanks for sharing this on Wildcrafting Wednesday! Hope to see you back on today’s hop!

  16. Mums make lists on February 20, 2013 at 12:49 pm

    Great idea – had to pin it. And love your description of your house – clean enough to be healthy, dirty enough to be happy. Spot on! Alice @ Mums Make Lists x

  17. Nadia@loveliveandgarden on February 19, 2013 at 8:41 pm

    This is GREAT! I can’t wait to try it & I have everything on hand already. I was looking to find a hand sanitizer I could make at home so thanks for sharing!

  18. Kendra | Our Homemade Happiness on February 19, 2013 at 7:01 pm

    I can’t wait to try out the recipe! Thanks for sharing!

  19. Someday I'll Learn on February 19, 2013 at 6:15 am

    Thanks so much for sharing. I’d love to have you come link this up to our Teach Me Tuesday Linky – it’s brand new and in need of creative contributions!

  20. Mariel on February 19, 2013 at 4:03 am

    What a great tutorial! I’d love for you to share this or any of your great ideas at the link party going on now (and every Saturday through Tuesday) at ‘Or so she says …’ Hope to see you there!

  21. Vanessa on February 18, 2013 at 9:15 pm

    I’ve been looking for something like this. I’m always on the lookout for homemade natural products. I can’t wait to try this. Thanks!

  22. Kathy Shea Mormino on February 18, 2013 at 9:07 pm

    Thank you for sharing with the Clever Chicks Blog Hop this week; I hope you’ll join us again!

    Kathy Shea Mormino

    The Chicken Chick

  23. biggsis on February 17, 2013 at 7:08 pm

    This is fabulous – I wish I could convince them to use this at the hospital where I work instead of the skin shredding stuff we do use. Really appreciate this recipe. I found you at the Little House in the Suburbs Linky Party.

  24. Mimi on February 15, 2013 at 10:02 pm

    I am allergic to aloe vera. Is there a substitute? What is it’s function in this recipe? I might make and take it into the office (just to give everyone a chance to see why I like natural cosmetics)and keep using Giovanni or Urban Escentials handwipes myself.

  25. Anonymous on February 14, 2013 at 5:16 am

    Could I use orange oil instead of the lemon? I have it on hand is why I am wondering?

    • Brown Thumb Mama on February 14, 2013 at 5:35 pm

      Sure! Orange oil and lemon oil both have limonene as a primary component. Either will work here.

  26. Krissa on February 14, 2013 at 12:29 am

    It’s been on my list to make my own hand sanitizer…would this one be too thick to spray? Maybe if I left out the aloe gel?

    • Brown Thumb Mama on February 14, 2013 at 5:32 pm

      This recipe is too thick to spray, but if you added more witch hazel it might work. Give it a try and let us know!

  27. Marium on February 13, 2013 at 9:14 pm

    Fantastic! I really despise using chemicals, and I once bought an expensive organic sanitizer, which was essentially witch hazel. The pump immediately broke and I never got to use it! Now I can make my own. Thanks!

  28. Ellen on April 8, 2010 at 3:04 pm

    This is great. I already have tea tree oil. How expensive would you say this recipe is? And how long does it last? (not usage – just how long is it good for)

    • janet on April 14, 2014 at 5:45 pm

      Do you know the approximate shelf life for this sanitizer if stored in either a glass bottle or a PET plastic container? It works great! Thanks for sharing.

  29. Beth on March 26, 2010 at 7:05 pm

    Love this!!! I will definitely be making some to take to work (I am a physical therapist). We have Purell and it dries my hands out terribly. Occasionally it’s easier to use the sanitizing gel than wash my hands. This will work perfectly…thanks!!!!

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Hi, I'm Pam!

I created Brown Thumb Mama to share my natural living journey and help you live a greener life. Thanks for being here! Learn more about me.

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