How To Make Hand Sanitizer: DIY Natural Hand Sanitizer With Tea Tree Oil

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Microbes, microbes everywhere – those micro-organisms which are inside and outside of us. Some of them are useful for all kinds of physiological processes, while others can potentially make you violently or fatally ill. Handwashing and using a hand sanitizer are two of the most effective ways to keep yourself protected. In this DIY post we will detail how to make hand sanitizer, and discuss its primary pros and cons.

Staying clean, safe, and healthy is how you avoid getting sick, by and large. Hand sanitizers help to facilitate that in a quick and easy way. Different surfaces and individuals may be at a higher risk of becoming infected. A proper sanitizer can eliminate up to 99% of germs in under a minute, and help your skin remain cleaner for longer.

What Is Hand Sanitizer? Hand Sanitizer Vs Soap Explained

Hand holding a bubble.

Soap bubbles in hand.

Hand sanitizers are disinfectants, normally available in forms of liquid, gel, and foam. More often than not, they are alcohol-based and are more of an “on the go” type of solution. When water and soap are not readily available, sanitizing one’s hands is a welcomed option. The pH of hand sanitizer varies depending on the ingredients. Some might affect the skin’s resistance and overall resilience, so it should be used with care.

Soap is usually a mixture containing fat or oil, plus some alkaline ingredient. It’s remained a staple of cleanliness and good hygiene ever since its inception. I think there’s nothing that could truly replace the classic duo of soap and water. Once the practice of using soap had become more commonplace, the number of disease-related deaths began to decline rapidly.

Hand sanitizers are the preferred disinfectant in the healthcare industry, perhaps more than anywhere else. Due to the fact that frequent washing or sanitizing is a bare necessity in that field, alcohol-based sanitizers are seen as more tolerable, easier to use, and more gentle on the skin. Nevertheless, soap and warm water remain a standard of hand cleanliness.

Does Hand Sanitizer Work? Does Hand Sanitizer Kill Viruses?

Many individuals carry some type of hand sanitizer in a bag or on their person. It’s able to combat a variety of viruses and bacteria, but it normally won’t provide the same type of protection that a good soap will. How does hand sanitizer work? The presence of alcohol as an antiseptic is what accounts for many sanitizers’ rates of success. 

Usually, the answer to the question of “how does hand sanitizer work?” is alcohol. There are different sanitizers that do not make use of alcohol, and we will get to those soon enough. Hand sanitizer is able to kill some of the viruses and fellow microbes, but at the same token, it might cause the remaining microbes to develop resistance.

This is, in part, why it’s not recommended to use sanitizers as the primary means of attaining cleanliness. Avoiding illness through proper routine is the absolute best way to remain healthy. Use warm water and soap to wash your hands, especially if you’re part of a group that is at a higher risk of infection or contamination. Hand sanitizer is a great thing to carry with you, but keep in mind it’s not always ideal.

What Is Alcohol-Free Hand Sanitizer?

Two hands holding black heart cutout.

Alcohol-free sanitizer is gentle on your hands.

An alcohol-based hand sanitizer will often contain alcohol of one concentration or another (60%-95%). This is what helps to combat the microbes on the surface of the skin. A non-alcohol hand sanitizer also contains germ-combating ingredients, but their efficacy is usually not up to the level of alcohol.

An ingredient like tea tree oil or some kind of citrus oil (orange or lemon are popular) can act as a natural hand sanitizer. At times you may require something more gentle and mild, for example when making or purchasing hand sanitizer for kids. Those who have more sensitive skin may also want to explore other options, such as fragrance-free hand sanitizer.

Consult with your GP or dermatologist if you’re unsure what type of sanitizer will be beneficial for you.

Does Hand Sanitizer Expire?

Hand sanitizer does indeed expire, and its date of expiration is normally several years since its manufacturing. In order for alcohol to be effective against micro-organisms like viruses and bacteria, its concentration needs to be higher than 60%. Over time, the amount of alcohol in the expired item will decrease. Its usefulness will begin to decline the moment that top is popped.

Unopened hand sanitizer will remain in good condition for longer periods of time, but it’s not the only variable to consider. The environment in which the sanitizer was stored counts for a lot, as do the conditions of the product to begin with. If there is any doubt, best not to use it and opt for a fresh one.

Natural DIY Hand Sanitizer Recipe & Guide 

Open glass bottle of liquid.

Tea tree oil for DIY hand sanitizer.

Hand sanitizer is something you’ll probably be using frequently, and as such, it ought to be one that agrees with your skin type and appeals to your personal preferences. With custom hand sanitizer, the DIY option, you have the ability to use ingredients more closely tailored to your wants and needs. That said, certain brands are putting out some high-quality items.

There are hand sanitizer ingredients that won’t sit well with everyone. If you’re sensitive and are going DIY, be smart about what you choose to incorporate into the formula. Using a hand sanitizer with aloe, for instance, might not be everyone’s cup of tea. Nor will tea tree oil, for that matter, because of its potency.

That said – for a moisturizing hand sanitizer which also manages to pack a punch, the aforementioned two are actually a great combination. For those wondering how to make hand sanitizer on their own, here’s a quick and easy recipe.

Ingredients

¾ cup Isopropyl Alcohol

¼ cup Aloe Vera Gel

12 drops Tea Tree Essential Oil 

Choose a fitting container, tube, or bottle, combine the ingredients, and you’re pretty much done. With this particular recipe, less it more.

The aloe provides the moisture and emulates the body’s natural oil (to some degree). The antiviral, antibacterial, and generally antimicrobial properties of tea tree oil make it a quick and highly-useful disinfectant. Combined with alcohol, they form a powerful trio that works hard to protect the body against invasion and get rid of threats on the surface.

Alcohol-based hand sanitizers are FDA-approved and are acknowledged for their usefulness. Tea tree works to strengthen the body’s natural barrier and promote well-being but is not officially recognized as such. 12 drops can get a lot done, just make sure to use 100% tea tree oil and not a blend.

Research done in the last decade has shown that tea tree oil can dramatically decrease the microbe population. In 2006, Carson et al reviewed the medicinal properties of tea tree. Another paper, from 2013, demonstrated how tea tree oil inhibits a virus’ ability to bind to a host cell, effectively cutting him off.

Conclusion

Okay, so a hand sanitizer is a useful companion. It’s not as effective as regular hand washing, but it gets a lot done. Whether you choose to go the DIY route or buy an item over the counter, be sure to use it when necessary. Expired may be better than nothing at all, so use your judgment. Commercial products are more dependable, in the sense that the formula is factory-consistent.

Using essential oils and aloe vera as a means of defense and issue-avoidance is a good thing, but remember that these oils are not classified by the FDA as drugs of any unique therapeutic value. Studies are still ongoing and clinical evidence tends to be positive, but not definitive. Anecdotal evidence, on the other hand, is certainly there – as is the historical use of essential oils in Traditional Chinese Medicine and Ayurveda.

Keeping your hands clean is a must. Viruses and other microbes can remain alive and well on dry and wet surfaces, for different periods of time. In order to give your body the best chance to ward off sickness, do what you can to keep your hands free of contamination.