Zero Waste Hand Sanitizer

Zero Waste Hand Sanitizer

In need of some zero waste hand sanitizer? With panic ensuing over the coronavirus this March, I don’t blame you. Unfortunately, finding hand sanitizer may be one of the hardest things to do right now. Thankfully, you can always make your own. However, I will say that hand sanitizer is NOT a replacement for good old soap and water – so make sure you’re washing your hands! Hand sanitizer is a great thing to use in a pinch though, when you can’t directly access a sink. The CDC recommends washing your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after you’ve been in a public place. If you don’t have access to that, then hand sanitizer will do – but you have to use hand sanitizer that contains at least 60 percent alcohol. Thankfully, this natural DIY recipe does, so you have nothing to worry about. Here’s how to make your own zero waste hand sanitizer.

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Zero Waste Hand Sanitizer

Zero Waste Hand Sanitizer

Why should I make my own hand sanitizer?

First off, hand sanitizer tends to come in plastic packaging. Worse yet – they’re small bottles, making them more likely to end up lost in the waste stream.
Our addiction to hand sanitizer ultimately leads to a lot of plastic pollution. All those tiny bottles add up.
When you make your own, you can easily refill it in the container of your choice. Heck, you can even use an empty purell bottle to store this DIY hand sanitizer. Just remember you’ll need a tiny funnel to help get it inside whatever container you choose.
Making your own hand sanitizer is cost efficient, and it’s more economical when you have limited access to the store bought versions.
Speaking of store bought versions – not all hand sanitizers are made equal. For example, there are tons of hand sanitizers with artificial fragrances and colors in them. Is this what we want to be putting on our skin?
Not to mention there are even some hand sanitizers with glitter in them – is that really essential? No. Plus, glitter is a microplastic. We don’t need more of that.
And, need I mention, it all adds up – price wise. Hand sanitizer can get pricey. With the coronavirus being all over the news right now, the demand for these products has skyrocketed. There will be people trying to rip you off.
My father bought a small itty bitty bottle of hand sanitizer they’d normally charge $1 for $4. Four. Stinkin’. Dollars. Ridiculous am I right? Lets not do that. Lets not get ripped off.
Do your health, your wallet, and your environment a favor – make your own zero waste hand sanitizer. It’s super simple.
Zero Waste Hand Sanitizer

How will I know this sanitizer works?

According to the CDC, sanitizer must contain 60 percent alcohol in order to be effective. But you also need to make sure there’s some sort of moisturizing agent in place. Rubbing alcohol is extremely drying to the skin!
For this reason, this recipe utilizes five ingredients: Rubbing alcohol, aloe vera, vegetable glycerin, tea tree essential oil and lavender essential oil.
Rubbing alcohol is extremely abrasive to the skin so the right balance is key to making hand sanitizer. It’s also got a very strong smell, so adding some essential oils will help reduce that potent scent.
The reason I use tea tree oil in this recipe is because it’s a great antibacterial and antiseptic. It pairs really well with other essential oils (particularly lavender, which is what I used for this homemade hand sanitizer).
Lets analyze each ingredient a little more closely:
Alcohol – Without this, the hand sanitizer wouldn’t work.  For best results, you’ll need 99.8 percent Isopropyl alcohol – but a little under is okay (as long as it’s not lower than 90 percent Isopropyl alcohol). Any lower than 90 percent won’t kill the germs and bacteria thoroughly for the DIY I’m sharing. However, if you only have access to 70 percent Isopropyl alcohol, please use 9 tablespoons of alcohol and 1 tablespoon of aloe vera in my recipe in order to be effective. I explain more about this later. You can use this alcohol content calculator to see how much of each ingredient you’d need to remain at 60% if you’d like to play with the measurements. You could technically use witch hazel too, but I don’t recommend it – it won’t be as effective. Witch hazel is best used in a pinch, or as an every day type option.
Aloe vera – A great moisturizing agent, aloe vera will help keep your hands from drying out. It certainly isn’t just for treating sunburns! This miracle plant has shown it can even fight off many types of bacteria like oral pathogens, E.coli and more! If you have access to an aloe vera plant, that’s amazing – utilize it. For those that don’t, you can get it in a glass or plastic bottle. Just remember aloe vera gel tends to go bad pretty quickly – especially if it’s straight from a plant – so I advise you use up this DIY quickly – and prepare to remake it within 10 to 14 days!
Vegetable glycerin – This is another moisturizing agent that will help protect your hands from drying out and burning. Vegetable glycerin is vegan and great for softening and moisturizing skin. It’s versatile too, because you can use it in all sorts of DIYs – including my body lotion recipe (which, by the way can also double as hand cream – ideal after all this hand washing/sanitizing!).
Essential oils – This will mask the strong smell of alcohol efficiently. Plus, some essential oils are good for bacterial protection. Tea tree is a known antibacterial and antiseptic, making it ideal for this DIY. However, some other great essential oil choices include lemon, orange, eucalyptus, oregano, and thyme. You can do research into each of these, but there are studies out there confirming these oils possess antibacterial properties. That said, I prefer lavender essential oil for its smell – but it’s also an antibacterial and antiseptic.
Zero Waste Hand Sanitizer

Important update: If you only have access to 70% Isopropyl alcohol, use 9 tablespoons of alcohol, 1 tablespoon (instead of 2) of aloe vera. Everything else can remain the same. This will ensure that the final alcohol concentration remains at 60 percent. This will make it safe for use and effective at killing germs and viruses.

Note: You can always double or half the original recipe if you need to – assuming you’re using 90% Isopropyl or higher. My container is approximately 2 oz – give or take. If yours is bigger, or smaller, you can always adjust the recipe. However, make sure you double or halve it only – you want to make sure the measurements stay precise so that the recipe remains at 60% alcohol. For example – if you needed to halve it, use 3 tbs of alcohol, 1 tbs aloe vera, 1/2 tsp of vegetable glycerin, etc. You get the idea. Use this alcohol content calculator to make sure your new recipe remains at 60% alcohol.
  • Small jar, spray bottle or squeeze tube (I reused a travel sized shampoo bottle – it’s plastic but it works)
  • Funnel (for getting the hand sanitizer into the small bottle)
  • Bowl
  • Mixing spoon
Zero Waste Hand Sanitizer
  1. In a bowl, add the rubbing alcohol, aloe vera and vegetable glycerin. Mix together using a spoon until well combined. It should still look liquidy, but have a slightly thicker consistency when touched.
  2. Next, add tea tree oil and the essential oil of your choice. I strongly advise you go with lavender, as this scent seems to mask the other strong smells in this DIY the best. Mix it together until the scent blends in nicely.
  3. Grab your funnel and container – remove the lid from the container and place the funnel inside. Now pour the contents of the bowl into the container – the funnel will make this easier and less messy. Once everything is in, remove the funnel and replace it with the container’s lid. Give the bottle a good shake – it’s ready for use now!
Zero Waste Hand Sanitizer

How to use zero waste hand sanitizer

To use this hand sanitizer, just simply squeeze a few drops onto your hands. If you decided to store it in a spray bottle, spritz some onto your hands. For a small jar, use a small spoon to drip some onto your hands.
Then, simply rub your hands together as you normally would to spread the sanitizer around. Make sure your hands get covered evenly.
I recommend applying maybe five drops – but don’t too overboard because you don’t want to dry out your hands too much.
You can use this as many times as you need, but please don’t let it be a substitute for good old fashioned hand washing. This should only be used when you’re out and about and cannot access a sink.
Zero Waste Hand Sanitizer

Would you give this zero waste hand sanitizer a shot?

For more DIY ideas to do while self quaratining, consider baking some chocolate chip cookies or whipping up some zero waste lip balm.

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By Ariana Storniolo (Palmieri)

Ariana Storniolo is the founder of Greenify-Me, a blog dedicated to zero waste and sustainability. Her work has also been featured on Going Zero Waste, Green Matters, Mother Earth Living and several other online publications.


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