Homemade Natural Hand Purifier using Essential Oils

A simple and easy recipe to make your own natural, non-toxic hand purifier using essential oils and witch hazel that’s safe for the whole family!

DIY Natural Hand Sanitizer - Non-Toxic, Non-Drying, Safe and Effective!

Even though my kids are young, aren’t in school and it’s still hot outside, we keep getting viruses that often, at least for me, turn into bacterial infections. I take them to the nursery at our local YMCA, so they pick up all kinds of yucky stuff from the younger siblings of kids who are in school. We don’t have nearly as much trouble in the summertime.

They eat very healthy, drink mostly water and almond milk and are very physically active so about the only way to keep our little dirt magnets from being so attractive is lots of hand-washing (which is hard to do when public bathrooms have no stools and I’ve got a baby and two toddlers…I will love the day when moms design bathrooms!), taking a daily probiotic (where to buy) and multivitamin (where to buy), and hand purifier.

Me No Like Alcohol

Before making my own purifier, I hardly ever used it because the unnatural ones are full of alcohol, which is very effective against germs but makes my already eczema-prone hands breakout and hurt. If it does that to me, I have no desire to put it on my kids’ hands. There are a few natural sanitizers out on the market, but I find making my own things (like laundry detergent, cleaning supplies, and body butter) is far cheaper and I know exactly what’s in it.

Make no mistake, though, I’m not a germaphobe. My kids play in the dirt outside all the time and never get sick from that (even when they eat and haven’t washed the dirt off their hands). I do believe that they do need to be exposed to germs to build their immune systems, but also try to practice good hand-washing habits and use sanitizer when necessary. We seem to only ever get sick from being around other children, so unless we become hermits, we’re gonna pick up germs.

Essential Oils for Hand Sanitizer

A Note About Working With Essential Oils

Proper Dilution

When working with essential oils topically and internally, it is very important to know how to dilute them so they are safe, but still effective. Too little and the sanitizer won’t sanitize, too much and it can be harmful (cause irritation, burns, etc.) for your skin and body. According to aromaweb.com, proper dilution of essential oils for topical use is 2%, which is about 12 drops per ounce. I used a four-ounce bottle, so proper dilution calls for 48 drops of essential oils. Read more about the essential oils I use here.

Moisturizing with Witch Hazel and Aloe Vera

I love the Thayer’s pure witch hazel with aloe vera (where to buy) because it is so moisturizing and alcohol-free. The best blend for this is Thieves, however it does contain some hot oils like Clove and Cinnamon Bark and might irritate my childrens’ hands, so I decided to use Lavender and Purification (which is a blend of Lemongrass, Rosemary, Melaleuca, Myrtle, Citronella and Lavandin). Bergamot is also a strong oil that’ll keep duckies away and has a lovely smell, so that’d be a nice addition if you’re using Lavender or Tea Tree oil by themselves (got that info from this awesome book, Quick Reference Guide for Using Essential Oils (where to buy)). If you really want to use Thieves, I’d mix dilute it with Sweet Almond Oil (see how to dilute here) and rub in on the hands instead!

Why Witch Hazel?

I use witch hazel instead of water because the oils dissolve better in it, although still not completely. They don’t dissolve in water at all (oil and water don’t mix). Plus, witch hazel has it’s own skin-healing properties and even may help fight bacteria, so I also use it on bug and ant bites, poison ivy rashes, acne, cuts, burns, etc. But, you do not have to use witch hazel to make hand sanitizer – it’s just a nice bonus. The germs will still meet their utter doom if you use just water.

Use a Glass Bottle

In my early days of using essential oils, I would store them in used plastic bottles. I learned very quickly that it simply doesn’t work – the bottles collapsed completely and became unusable because the EO’s cause the plastic to disintegrate. So, now I buy these gorgeous blue glass bottles from Amazon.

The Recipe!

  • a little less than 4 oz. (1/2 cup) Witch Hazel (Alcohol Free with Aloe Vera) (where to buy)
    • 44 Drops of any combination of powerful essential oils. There are many different oils that work well, but here are the ones I’ve used and recommend (where to buy high quality essential oils):
      • Thieves
      • Purification
      • Tea Tree Oil (Tea Tree by itself really isn’t a pleasant scent, in my opinion. I’d soften it with lavender or bergamot.)
      • Lavender
      • Bergamot
      • Eucalyptus
        (Tip: Just make sure that whichever oils you choose are safe to apply to the skin – some are irritating (like clove, cinnamon, and ylang ylang)).


  • Put essential oils in first, then add the witch hazel all the way to the top.
  • Mix all ingredients in a glass spray bottle (where to buy) and shake
  • Spray on hands and rub in
  • Shake before each use

As a mother of three, I have to be on 100% all day long and can’t afford to be sick. So I use this hand sanitizer on their hands and mine as soon as we leave the YMCA and any other time we’re out in public and it isn’t easy to wash their hands.

DIY Hand Sanitizer Label Free PrintableThe Free Printable Label – Click Here

How to print: Make sure to unclick, Print to Fill Page, and print with Avery Labels 80508 – round scallops (where to buy). Or, just print it like I did on plain paper cut out a circle or a square from the label and tape on. Either will do!

See all my essential oil recipes here!

How to Purchase High Quality Essential Oils through My Merry Messy Life

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About Sara McFall

Sara is the owner and founder of My Merry Messy Life, which started in 2011 as a way to chronicle her journey to a natural, chemical-free lifestyle and to share her passions of mothering, real food, homeschooling and crochet. She is a mama to three precious and energetic little boys and wife to a university professor who loves to sing, dance ballet and ballroom, and live simply and naturally.


  1. Thanks for sharing this Sara. I’m also sure that it is the people to people germ transfer that is the problem. My children (who are now all grown up), hubby and I always carry around a bottle of hand sanitizer. I do find that the shop bought ones dry your hands out something fierce – so I am most certainly going to switch to your hand made recipe!
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  2. Linda Poulin says:

    Hello Sara

    Could you please tell me what the shelf life is for the homemade hand sanitizer.


  3. Awesome thank you !!!

  4. Hi Sara –

    Re using glass bottles. How then the commercial essential oil products we buy come in plastic containers/bottles? Do we have to use glass bottles because the hand sanitizer mix have more EO’s in it? The glass bottles are pretty pricey; makes me want to give up on making my own sanitizers. I already bought the EO’s so I have to figure a way to use them :-/


    • Hi Lauren! Do you have any glass jars, like from jam you could use instead? Or mason jars? You’d just have to carefully pour it out. Because of the high concentration of EO’s in this recipe, you really do need glass. I’ve used plastic before and it collapses and totally breaks down the plastic. I’m sorry they are pricey for you. Another idea might be to melt some shea butter and coconut oil on the stove and make a lotion out of it instead! However, those ingredients will cost more than a glass bottle.

      • So, I would really like to know: what happens to the plastic tubing in the sprayer and the plastic cap on the bottle? Do they disintegrate too? I can imagine if this ever leaked it would make a terrible mess in your purse! I am gluten sensitive, and I was using hand sanitizer that was made from grain alcohol. However, I recently found out that many people with gluten sensitivity also react to alcohols and vinegars that are made from grains! So now I need to find a new hand sanitizer. I already wanted to stay away from the ones with the rubbing alcohol, because that stuff is VERY toxic. So please answer my question, because I really want to make this right away! Thank you

        • Hi Susan! Great question. Those bottles are made for aromatherapy so somehow the plastic doesn’t disintegrate. I don’t know how, but it doesn’t! I’ve mixed all kinds of EO’s in them without problems.

          • If you come across an “Essential Oil” in a plastic bottle it has 99% of the time been cut with a base oil to dilute the “Essential Oil”. Uncut (undiluted) Essential Oils are higher in concentration and require not only a glass container but a tinted container such as amber or coal bottle. Amber bottles work best at filtering light so that the Essential Oil can have a longer shelf life. Essential Oils can expire if not stored properly.

            Essential oils typically come with 3 different caps. 1. Twist top 2. Bulb Glass Dropper 3. Plastic orifice reducer. The droppers for essential oil bottles are made of clear glass unlike plastic droppers or pipettes. By having a glass dropper in your bottle you can ensure that the essential oil will not eat the dropper. The bottles that have the plastic orifice reducer are safe because they generally are not inside the oil, they lay on the top of the bottle and the only time the essential oils touch the orifice reducer is to dispense the oil. Again, orifice reducers are safe even though they are plastic because they are not immersed in essential oil like the droppers.

            I hope this helps.

            An aromatherapist enthusiast 🙂

    • Amazon has some great prices on glass bottles.

  5. Anita Smith says:

    i use witch hazel mixed w/ aloe gel (separate items bought at wally-world) and EOs
    i am on the look out for a good ceramic soap dispenser to put mine in – just wondering if the pump’s tubing will break down too…?

  6. I have been using this hand sanitizer since I saw it on the website. I liked it so much I made some and handed out as gifts to friend and families. I 1st used the Thayers Lavendar then the Cucumber. I have them in my office, in my bag and at my house and it is indespensable when traveling via airplane. I ordered my first 4oz glass from amazon but found a nearby organic grocer that started carrying them. Have not had any issues with the sprayers yet!!!

  7. Hi! I was thinking of using this recipe- with a tweak for a face cleaning astringent. Witch hazel with lemon and maybe lavender. But maybe less oils. What do you think?
    Also would a little pinch of salt help the oils blend better? Or would that make it a little drying?

  8. Which one of these ingredients kills germs?

  9. MaryAnn Combs says:

    Are you saying that we need 44 drops of each of those 5 oils in your hand sanitzer recipe. or 44 altogether?

  10. Could anyone tell me how long essential oils remain active to kill germs after applied to the skin? I think I read somewhere essential oils can kill germs up to 3 hours after applied to the skin, whereas typical grocery store alcohol based hand sanitizers kill germ initially and then are inactive and useless when dry. I would like to find an article about this again. Does anyone have a link to post?

  11. Thanks so much for this!
    Do you think the same thing would work if i put it in a roller bottle? I don’t have any glass spray bottles as of yet, but i have a roller bottle, and I’m really anxious to try this! 😊

  12. Thanks so much for sharing this recipe! Is it safe to use on babies? I have a 2.5 year old, 1 year old, and a baby on the way. Should I dilute a bit more or will that make it ineffective?

    • Hi MaryBeth! I think it’s safe, but my kids are used to Young Living essential oils that are potent and strong, so that’s us. You may try it diluted more at first and see how they like it, and then increase the essential oil after that.

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