How to Make Hand Sanitizer

Clean hands are one of the surest ways to fight germs and keep yourself from getting sick. While washing them with soap and water is best, hand sanitizer is a good solution when you can’t get to a sink.

Of course, you can buy prepackaged hand sanitizer, but you can also make your own at home.

You’ll need a few ingredients:

  • 4 cups of isopropyl alcohol, also called rubbing alcohol (99%)
  • ¼ cup household hydrogen peroxide (3%)
  • 4 teaspoons glycerin, sometimes called glycerol
  • 1 cup distilled water (or water that has been boiled and cooled)
  • A clean plastic or glass container that can hold around 8 cups
  • Smaller containers if you want to divide up the final batch of sanitizer

You can halve or double the amounts in this recipe, depending on how much you need.

To make your hand sanitizer:

  • Wash your hands to keep germs out of the mix.
  • Clean the container you’ll use to mix the sanitizer and any bottles you’ll store it in. If the containers are heat-resistant, you can sterilize them in boiling water or in the dishwasher on high heat.
  • Pour the isopropyl alcohol into the clean container.
  • Mix in the hydrogen peroxide. It kills bacteria that can get into the bottles or the sanitizer as you make it. Take extra care with this step, since hydrogen peroxide may irritate your skin
  • Add 4 teaspoons of glycerin. It helps protect your skin from drying out.
  • Add 1 cup of sterile water, and mix everything together.

If you divide the batch into smaller bottles, make sure that you use clean tools, like funnels, to transfer it. Then wait 72 hours before you use the sanitizer. That gives the hydrogen peroxide a chance to kill any germs that might have gotten into the solution while you made it.

The total alcohol in your hand sanitizer should be around 75%. You need 60% alcohol or more to effectively kill germs. A special instrument called an alcoholmeter can test levels if you’re unsure.

WebMD Medical Reference Reviewed by Hansa D. Bhargava, MD on March 20, 2020

Sources

SOURCES:

CDC: “Show Me the Science -- How to Wash Your Hands,” “Show Me the Science -- When & How to Use Hand Sanitizer in Community Settings.”

National Capital Poison Center: “Hydrogen Peroxide.”

World Health Organization: “Guide to Local Production: WHO-recommended Handrub Formulations.”

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