Make Your Own Natural Alcohol-Free Hand Sanitizer

hand sanitizer

{Welcome to “Save My Sanity Saturday” at One Good Thing By Jillee….where I attempt to avoid having a nervous breakdown by actually giving myself a day off from blogging once a week! So pull up a chair and sit back and enjoy an “oldie but goodie” from the One Good Thing By Jillee archives.}

(Update on a post originally written on December 31, 2011)

Since we are smack dab in the middle of flu season…I think we are all more mindful of how important it is to wash our hands….OFTEN! I personally love my homemade foaming hand soap that I keep at the sink, and use it OFTEN. But soap and water hand washing isn’t always possible. In those circumstances, a hand sanitizer is a good alternative.


hand sanitizer

If you’re like me, you are constantly buying those little bottles at the checkout stand at the grocery store and tucking them in your purse. But since they are so small and don’t last long….you are also constantly throwing the plastic bottle away and buying another one.

This is where the homemade version makes so much sense. You control the ingredients AND the plastic that you throw away.

Most “recipes” you find online will be some combination of alcohol and aloe vera gel…but I recently ran across an online article about a pediatrician in New Jersey who recommends hand sanitizer utilizing essential oils INSTEAD of alcohol because of their anti-bacterial properties and because bacteria can become immune to alcohol-based sanitizers.


So I decided to try this ALL-NATURAL version and have LOVED it. It is much less drying on my hands than the alcohol kind and smells so clean and fresh.

hand sanitizer


Alcohol-Free Homemade Hand Sanitizer

This combination of essential oils is based on the mythical “Thieves” blend of essential oils that has been used for centuries for its’ anti-bacterial and anti-viral properties.

Start with a recycled hand sanitizer bottle or liquid soap bottle. Add the water, aloe vera gel, and all of the essential oils. Put the top of the bottle and shake well.

To use: Pump, squeeze, or spray a small amount of the sanitizer onto your hands and rub hands together. Repeat as needed.


When soap and water aren’t available, mix yourself up a batch of this sweet-smelling natural spray and you’re good to go.


hand sanitizer




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  1. says

    I have

    Hi – I have been reading your wonderful blog for a while now and I decided it was time to stop “lurking” and leave a comment.

    I love your blog and I think that your story is inspirational.

    I didn’t even know that you could hand make hand sanitiser!! I can imagine how wonderful it smells.

    Have a great day:)

  2. Dee dee says

    I was thinking and wanted to get your opinion on using wich hazel in this as well? I have seen in a blog post from you or your sister Rebecca’s page, on using it in the deodorant I believe. So could it be used in the hand sanitizer?

    • Kay says

      I got this one from Prevention magazine, and it uses witch hazel. You could probably uses the oils from Jillee’s recipe above. I like it, but the tee tree oil was strong. I added a little more lavender oil, and then it was great. I’m going to try Jillee’s to see which one I like better.

      1/2 cup aloe vera gel
      1 1/2 tsp witch hazel
      15 drops tea tree oil
      5 drops lavender essential oil

  3. Jen says

    Hi Jill, I just stated following your blog and I’m new to essential oils, but very interested in learning more! Where do you get your oils from? Are there tips as to places that are better than others to buy from? With the oils costing what they do I want to purchase wisely. Thank you for your help – love the hand sanitizer recipe – with 2 young boys I go thru hand sanitizer like water!

  4. christy m says

    I’m glad to see a formula that’s alcohol free. I work at a grocery
    Store and keep a small pocket anti-bacterial gel on me. Also
    Keep big bottles at front of the store for all to use. With this
    Winter weather, plus having to use it, a lot the our hands get
    Very dried out.

  5. Rachel says

    New reader – loving the homemade cleaning products!

    Regarding Andea’s comment about epilepsy – a quick web search shows that there are a number of essential oils that could cause seizures, including Eucalyptus. For more info, please see

    But for those of us who aren’t epileptic, I think this is a great idea (as long as you’re not allergic to any of the ingredients). If I can find some reasonably-priced essential oils, I might just try this.

  6. Sandee says

    Do you have any suggestions on how to make reed defuser refills? I enjoy the lemon verbena scent but am not sure what to use with essential oils.
    Appreciate an suggestions! Love your blog!!!!

  7. Beth says

    Hi Jillian! Love this recipe and yes witch hazel is great substitute for the water. I’m thinking about making this using Camp Wanders Cold and Flu Bomb but the “Thieves” recipe should be sufficient. Have a wonderful day!

  8. Erin Coler says

    That is somthing i am wondering , how many drops of thieves would it take ? Is it going to be 50 as in your reciepe or would having actual thieves make a differance in the amount. Thanks love your blog.

  9. patricia says

    I have a concern. With that much water in this formula, shouldn’t you add preservatives to prevent mold and bacteria growing in this? Or at least keep the product in the refrigerator? In alcohol based products, alcohol prevents this from happening. I’m not convinced essential oils by themselves will kill bacteria that might grow in this product. Many knowledgeable people say EO will not kill bacteria.
    Have you made and used this product and kept it at room temperature por a few weeks to see what happens? Just asking.

  10. CTY says

    I use distilled water for these kinds of recipes. I also use distilled water for DIY cleaner recipes. I have never had a problem. You can get distilled water in the pharmacy section of a store.
    I make a version replacing the aloe vera gel with vinegar. I put it in a spray bottle and use on doorknobs & other hand surfaces. Just spray and let air dry,

    • Judy Ann says

      I am reading the comments concerning the water.

      If this helps anyone, I have well water- and I use it for my foaming soaps…..and I have never had a problem with mold or anything, and I am in a southern state with very hot summer temperatures. I think the soap itself wards off any kind of mold0 I don’t know..but it has never molded or soured.

  11. says

    Hi Jillee, I love your website, and I have completely changed over to green cleaning, thank you.

    I just wonder why you wouldn’t want to use Thieves instead. I am a Young Living Essential Oils distributor and I keep and use Thieves in everything! Studies have been done to prove that Thieves is the only only that completely keeps germs at bay.

    Just wondering. Thank you again for all of your wonderful ideas.

  12. katy says

    Just a friendly word from your neighborhood medical scientist… Hand sanitizers are anti-BACTERIAL, but not anti-VIRAL. Thus they will NOT work on influenza or norovirus (or cold viruses, or respiratory viruses… you get the picture). Washing with soap and water is the only way to get these bad boys off your hands – again, antibacterial soap doesn’t matter – you’re washing them down the drain by the action of scrubbing, not killing them. Please, WASH YOUR HANDS whenever possible – don’t rely on sanitizer gels!!

  13. Morticia says

    I love the idea of making my own sanitizer…I work in a college computer lab and the germs I come in contact with have me constantly using things like Purell…but I would like to try this natural option (both for me and my nieces who also carry around sanitizer all the time). Do the citrus essential oils in the last step provide any anti-bacterial or sanitizing purpose or are they mainly there to enhance the smell? I have some people in my family that are allergic to grapefruit and oranges and I wanted to know if this could be modified to not use the citrus-y ones.

  14. Lauren says

    I really enjoy reading your blog, but I wanted to clear up a misconception. Bacteria cannot become immune to alcohol-based sanitizers. Alcohol-based hand sanitizers do not contain antibiotics and cannot create superbugs. They are clinically proven to effectively kill harmful bacteria and are recommended by the CDC for use in health care settings. I realize that natural products are preferred whenever possible, but I would be very hesitant to trust something that hasn’t been tested.


  1. […] You should know, The Wall Street Journal notes that alcohol-free hand sanitizers don’t have enough clinical studies to prove whether they are as effective or more effective than alcohol-based sanitizers. Then again, if you’re making or using an alcohol-based sanitizer, then make sure it has alcohol concentration of at least 60%—anything under that won’t kill microbes, according to The New York Times. […]

  2. […] You should know, The Wall Street Journal notes that alcohol-free hand sanitizers don’t have enough clinical studies to prove whether they are as effective or more effective than alcohol-based sanitizers. Then again, if you’re making or using an alcohol-based sanitizer, then make sure it has alcohol concentration of at least 60%—anything under that won’t kill microbes, according to The New York Times. […]

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