Bottle of aloe vera gel against window.

Making Your Own Hand Sanitizer, a Sign of the Times

I like to think I’m resilient, you know, that I’m prepared for things. After all, as a newspaper reporter I covered political arguments over a local airport, city council races and social issues—from poverty to education. And I rolled with the (figurative!) punches. But like a lot of folks, I was not prepared for Coronavirus. Among other things, I didn’t have hand sanitizer at the ready, the one time when I really needed it, even after stashing it in my drawer at work for years. But I was determined to do my best in the face of these serious times, so after some research and experimentation, I can now say I am capable of sharing with you how to make your own hand sanitizer.

According to the CDC, your hand sanitizer must contain at least 60% alcohol for to be most effective at killing germs.

Just be sure to clean the items you use to mix your ingredients. Otherwise you may contaminate your homemade hand sanitizer.

The most common recipe I found called for:

• 3/4 cup of isopropyl or rubbing alcohol

• 1/4 cup of aloe vera gel

Mix them in a bowl and make sure to mix the ingredients for at least a minute.

I also found another recipe that called for adding 10 drops of essential oil, such as lavender or tea tree oil, to make it smell better, a nice option if you have the ingredients.

I just went for the basics, filled my spare bottles, and now one of them goes with me if I ever have to leave the house. It was easy to make since I was able to find the ingredients on hand!

But like I said, I never thought it would come to this, partly because in my job as a journalist I was always willing to follow protocol and have an extra pair of shoes, clothing, and fire protection gear in my trunk for covering disasters. And since I was around a lot of people, I made sure to have small containers of hand sanitizers within reach.

Two bottles of nearly empty hand sanitizer.

Meanwhile, at home, I went without, because I wasn’t thinking of the crowds present in my work day. I just washed my hands. After all the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends washing your hands with soap for at least 20 seconds to reduce germs.

“But if soap and water are not available, using a hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol can help you avoid getting sick and spreading germs to others,” according to the CDC’s website.

That got me thinking, I should probably buy more containers of hand sanitizers for the next flu season.

When I finally got around to it a little while back, news of Coronavirus had just started making its way into the mainstream. I went to my local big box store to stock up and noticed something I had never seen before: empty shelves. In both the cleaning supplies section and soaps and hand sanitizers area. Hand sanitizers make it possible to clean well even away from a sink, perfect for when you need to be very cautious.

So I loaded up on other items with the plan to come back when things were restocked. But then I began to read the stories of crowded grocery stores and knew that option was out the door. Surely I could get on my phone and get some delivered to me in a couple of days.

No such luck.

Everything was out of stock on there as well. Demand for hand sanitizers spiked 1,400% from December to January, according to CBS News.

It was then that I began to look into my other option — making my own hand sanitizer. I really regret leaving my hand sanitizer in my work drawer after the unexpected announcement we’d all be switching to our home offices full time!

Let me know if you decide to give this process a try. Be sure to share how it goes in the comments below or share photos on social, and please stay safe.

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