DIY Hand Sanitizers and Disinfectants

homemade sanitizer and disinfectants
  • 1 hours
  • Beginner
  • 10-30
What You'll Need
Isopropyl alcohol (99%)
Household bleach (3% hydrogen peroxide)
Aloe vera
Essential oil
Given the global spread of the novel coronavirus, it comes as no surprise that there are very few, if any, hand sanitizers or other popular disinfectants such as Lysol to be found on store shelves. In some of the hardest-hit areas of the United States and other nations, the sudden increase in the demand for these products has been overwhelming for manufacturers.

Luckily, you can make some powerful basic cleaners from the comfort of your home with a few household ingredients. To protect against serious threats like COVID-19, you'll want to go beyond the natural cleaning solutions we often recommend, and work with materials that have been certified by authorities as effective against this particular threat.

Alcohol Hand Sanitizer


The simplest solution is alcohol, bleach, glycerin and water. The United States Centers for Disease Control recommends solutions with at least 60% pure alcohol content. That doesn't mean 60% vodka and 40% water—most drinking alcohol is already just 40%, so diluting it with water would make it even less effective.

Start with a highly concentrated alcohol like 99% isopropyl. Pour four cups into a clean glass or plastic container, then add a quarter cup of household bleach (3% hydrogen peroxide), taking care not to get any on your skin.

Next, add four teaspoons of glycerin, which will keep your hands from drying out when you use the finished product. Top it off with a cup of water that has boiled and cooled, and pour it all into your favorite dispenser. The total alcohol of this solution should be 75%, which you can test with an alcoholmeter.

Let the solution rest for 72 hours to make sure any germs still inside have died.

Bleach Surface Disinfectant

clorox bleach

To make a bleach cleaning solution for wiping or spraying surfaces, start with household bleach intended for disinfection (some, such as those designed for clothing or whitening, may not be suitable). Make sure the expiration date has not passed—the solution won't be strong enough if the bleach has lost its punch.

Never mix household bleach with other cleaning products like ammonia. Complete this process in an area with good ventilation, and protect your hands from exposure to the bleach.

Mix five tablespoons of bleach (1/3rd of a cup) into one gallon of water, or four teaspoons of bleach into one quart of water. The resulting mixture can be used to clean surfaces, and will be effective against coronaviruses. When applying the solution, keep the area well ventilated and leave the mixture on the surface for at least one minute.

Aloe Gel Hand Sanitizer

aloe plant dripping gel into glass jar

For a disinfectant solution that's even easier on your hands (and smells nice to boot), reach for some Aloe vera and combine it with the same isopropyl rubbing alcohol referenced above.

Mix three quarters of a cup of isopropyl with one quarter cup of Aloe vera gel, then add ten drops of your favorite essential oil for a pleasant fragrance. Whisk or stir the ingredients thoroughly and store them in your favorite container.

Soap is Still the Best Defense

As effective as powerful alcohol solutions are at killing virus particles, the U.S. CDC still recommends washing your hands with soap for twenty seconds frequently throughout the day, especially when moving between locations. Hand sanitizers are less effective when hands are dirty or greasy, and they can't effectively destroy every kind of germ, or remove all dangerous chemicals like pesticides and heavy metals.

As simple as this sounds, frequent soapy hand washing and thorough home cleaning remain the best ways to stay as safe as possible.