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We’re living in an era where everyone is more anxious than ever about limiting the spread of viruses and germs. This means the demand for hand sanitizer has skyrocketed and will remain sky-high for the foreseeable future. The good news is, homemade hand sanitizer can be just as effective as the store-bought stuff that’s flying off the shelves all over the world. With only two ingredients, you can make your own right at home in just a few simple steps.

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First things first: gather your supplies

You will need:

  • An empty and clean soap dispenser or pump bottle
  • A mixing bowl or liquid measuring cup with a spout for easy pouring
  • A funnel or a folded paper plate
  • A spoon to stir

Sanitize all supplies that will come into contact with your homemade hand sanitizer. You can do this either by running them through the dishwasher or, if your supplies are heat-safe, boiling them for about five minutes.

making sand sanitizer Nodar Chernishev / Getty Images
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Homemade hand sanitizer gel recipe

In your sanitized bowl or measuring cup, combine:

  • ⅔ cup of 99% isopropyl alcohol (rubbing alcohol)
  • ⅓ cup of aloe vera gel

Stir these ingredients with your sanitized spoon until they are thoroughly blended. Then, using your funnel or a folded paper plate, pour the ingredients into your clean and empty pump dispenser.

homemade hand sanitizer recipe Vudhikul Ocharoen / Getty Images
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Strength matters

Make sure you use rubbing alcohol that is at least 90% alcohol. To be effective, the CDC recommends that hand sanitizers need to be at least 60% alcohol. If you use rubbing alcohol with 70% alcohol or less, the aloe vera gel will "water down" your solution and make the alcohol concentration drop below the recommended 60%.

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Why add aloe vera gel?

Alcohol kills germs and viruses by drying everything out, and your skin is no exception! Dried out skin has tiny cracks that trap bacteria and viruses, which pretty much defeats the whole purpose.

Aloe vera gel is a natural humectant, which means it will lock in the oils that protect your skin from the dehydrating effects of the alcohol. You can use other humectants like hand lotion or glycerine in place of the aloe vera gel, as long as you stick to the same ratios.

aloe vera gel Makidotvn / Getty Images
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Optional: make it fragrant!

The smell of homemade hand sanitizer can be overpowering, to say the least. Adding a few drops of essential oil can make a huge difference:

  • Thyme, tea tree, and clove oil have natural antimicrobial properties, as do lemon and other citrus oils.
  • Chamomile and lavender oil can help soothe your skin and your mood!
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A word of warning

If you can’t find rubbing alcohol, stick to washing your hands with soap and water for the time being. This is not the time to raid your liquor cabinet for an alternative to rubbing alcohol. Not all alcohol is alike. The likes of vodka and whiskey are only 40 percent alcohol, which doesn’t cut it.

And don’t even think about using any other type of alcohol. Methanol and butanol are toxic. You’re trying to harm the germs here, not yourself.

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How long will it stay good?

The shelf life of homemade hand sanitizer is about twelve months when properly stored in a cool, dry place. Don’t leave it in the car! It can freeze and make a mess when it thaws, and temperature extremes might make it less effective. And never leave hand sanitizer near open flames. Alcohol is extremely flammable.

hand sanitizer shelf life Zephyr18 / Getty Images
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Don't forget about your phone!

It’s almost pointless to sanitize your hands if you’re going to touch your filthy phone a second later. Smartphones are much dirtier than most people realize. Our phones follow us everywhere, and most of us never think to clean them unless they’re visibly dirty. That means every one of us is carrying around a potential disease carrier in our handbags and pockets. Use alcohol wipes or tissue dipped in isopropyl alcohol to keep your phone as clean as your sanitized hands.

sanitizing phone PeopleImages / Getty Images
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Why does everyone love hand sanitizer so much?

There’s a reason there’s been on a run on hand sanitizer lately—it's great stuff! Hand sanitizer can act as your first line of defense against germs and viruses when you’re out and about and have no easy access to soap and water. It’s also compact and portable, making it perfect for shopping, driving, social events, and travel. And, unlike wet wipes, it dries within seconds, so you’re not left with damp hands.

hand sanitizer Glasshouse Images / Getty Images
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Do I still have to wash my hands?

Sanitizer is amazing, but it's no substitute for washing hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, which is still the best way to get rid of viruses and germs. Hand sanitizer is also only effective if it covers your hands thoroughly, front and back, so using it sparingly makes it less effective. It also won’t work if your hands are soiled, dirty, or greasy. Kids are especially notorious for having mucky mitts, so simply slapping on some sanitizer isn’t going to do much good to stop the spread of germs.

washing hands kieferpix / Getty Images

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