A simple and easy recipe to make your own natural, non-toxic hand sanitizer using essential oils and witch hazel.
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 germs 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 milk and are very physically active so about the only way to keep our little virus 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!) and hand sanitizer.
Me No Like Alcohol
Before making my own sanitizer, 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.
A Note About Working With Essential Oils
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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.
Moisturizing with Witch Hazel and Aloe Vera
I love the witch hazel I use because it also aloe vera already in it and it’s alcohol-free. The sanitizer is actually moisturizing! I was considering using the Four Thieves oil blend, which is a combination of cinnamon, clove, bergamot, eucalyptus and tea tree oil (although it varies depending on the brand), but cinnamon and clove are not safe for the skin (according to my favorite book for herbalism, Natural Healing Wisdom and Know How). So, I’ve resorted to the tried and true favorites, Tea Tree and Eucalyptus essential oils with a bit of Bergamot thrown in, as it is powerful against cold and flu viruses (according to my book).
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.
- 4 oz. (1/2 cup) Alcohol-Free Witch Hazel with Aloe Vera or just water
- 12 drops of Tea Tree Oil
- 24 drops of Eucalyptus Oil
- 12 drops of Bergamot Oil
- (Or you can do 48 drops of just Tea Tree Oil (though the smell will be strong), or 48 drops of Eucalyptus (the smell will be very medicinal), or a combo of the two. I chose all 3 because the scent is nicer.
- Mix all ingredients in a glass spray bottle 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.