Scent with your favourite essential oil to make it your own. Photo / Getty Images.

Keep Calm & Make Your Own Hand Sanitiser

Viva beauty editor Janetta Mackay shares a recipe for make-at-home hand sanitiser

Regular hand washing with soap is our best friend in this time of coronavirus, health authorities tell us, and luckily soap is easier to find on store shelves than hand sanitiser.

Just as well, for while you can certainly make your own soap, sanitiser is simpler to rustle up yourself — that is if you can still find the right ingredients.

Keep using soap (solid or liquid) at home, knowing the lipid (or fatty) content helps dissolve bugs and dirt from hands. Sanitiser doesn't shift oil, grease and dirt as well as soap, so on heavily soiled hands it’s not a good replacement.

But when heading out on essential trips, taking sanitiser is a good idea for peace of mind, allowing you to use the gel or spray to wash your hands when soap and water aren't available. 

READ: DIY Beauty Gadgets

At home, you don't need to spray sanitiser around with wild abandon. Keep up normal cleaning standards, using disinfectant regularly on door handles, toilet flushers, taps and other surfaces touched by multiple people.

Don't forget to wipe down items such as your mobile phone which is often placed on shared spaces and may be passed around.

Back to sanitiser, if you're on a buying mission try ringing ahead or checking websites. Last week I was told by a number of normal stockists that they were hoping for more supplies this week.

I was unimpressed to find a local chemist shop pointing to a hand wash when asked for a small sanitiser spray for use on the go. I picked the proferred item up and noticed its ingredients began with water, a sure sign it didn't have a lot of germ-killing ability.

READ: Beauty test drive: DIY gel lacquers

Alcohol is the top-of-the list ingredient to look for in a sanitiser capable of doing a decent job. It should be at least 60 per cent of a sanitiser's content, says the US Center for Disease Control, with some products well into the 90s.

If a product isn’t largely comprised of rubbing alcohol (sometimes called isopropyl alcohol) it can't claim to be killing 99.9 per cent of germs. Even then it won’t kill the likes of norovirus or cryptosporidium.

Ethyl alcohol (or ethanol), including meths, can be substituted, but is a drinking risk, whereas isopropyl has had bitterants added.

Supervise children around any sanitisers. Higher concentrations act faster, but are not necessarily better. Wiping off residue reduces effectiveness.


  • Two-parts rubbing alcohol (try chemist)
  • One-part aloe vera gel (try chemist)
  • Ten drops of an essential oil

1. Pour into a clean mixing bowl both the alcohol and aloe vera which is added to counteract the drying feel on skin. (A good first batch mix is one cup of alcohol to half a cup of aloe vera. 

2. Add an essential oil for fragrance, best chosen from those with natural anti-bacterial properties such as eucalyptus, tea tree and lemongrass.  

3. Whisk to combine all into a gel.

4. Decant into a well-washed pump bottle (ideally sterilised with rubbing alcohol) or several small spray bottles.

5. Rub your sanitiser in until it is dry on your hands, at least 60 seconds.

• For more information visit the Government's official Covid-19 advisory website

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New Zealand Herald

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