How to make a homemade hand sanitizer

Here’s how to make your own hand sanitizer. The hand sanitizer covered here is a gel type containing 62% ethanol. These are common items in hospitals, restaurants, and homes, and are easily available at pharmacies and online shopping malls.

However, these common hand sanitizers are very difficult to obtain in the aftermath of Wuhan pneumonia (COVID-19). Not only is it very difficult to buy, it is ridiculously expensive even if you can.

So I’m releasing a standard recipe for hand sanitizers that can be easily made and used at home with basic ingredients readily available in pharmacies or marts. This method requires only transparent bottles and pens in addition to ingredients, eliminating the need for volumetric instruments such as graduated beakers. I am a surgeon and a father raising my daughter, so I have thoroughly reviewed and organized them.

Materials

  1. Empty bottle
    • 1 ~ 2L glass bottles or plastic bottles are recommended.
    • Prepare the transparent ones with good visibility inside.
  2. 83% Ethanol (Rubbing alcohol)
    • You need 75% of the total amount of hand sanitizer you want to make. For example, if you make 1 liter of hand sanitizer, prepare at least 750 mL of 83% ethanol.
  3. Distilled water
    • You need 12.5% of the total amount of hand sanitizer you want to make. For example, if you make 1 liter of hand sanitizer, prepare at least 125 mL of distilled water.
  4. Glycerin
    • You need 12.5% of the total amount of hand sanitizer you want to make. For example, if you make 1 liter of hand sanitizer, prepare at least 125 mL of glycerin.
  5. Subdivision container
    • Choose a container with a pumped lid that is not sprayed. Spray type is used for perfumes and fragrances, and pump type is used for shampoos and lotions. (See figure)
    • It is recommended around 200mL for portable and 500mL for mounting.

How to make

  1. Rinse empty bottles thoroughly and dry.
  2. Mark outside the empty bottle for the total amount of hand sanitizer required. (β‘  in the figure)
  3. Mark at 1/2 position between bottom of container and β‘ . (β‘‘ in the figure)
  4. Mark at 1/2 position between β‘  and β‘‘. (β‘’ in the figure)
  5. Mark at 1/2 position between β‘  and β‘’. (β‘£ in the figure)
  6. Fill with 83% ethanol to β‘’.
  7. Fill with distilled water from β‘’ to β‘£.
  8. Fill with glycerin from β‘£ to β‘ .
  9. After filling the empty bottles with all the ingredients, close the lid and shake well.
  10. Divide into subdivision containers for your purpose.

Notes

  1. Commercially available rubbing ethanol is 83% aqueous solution, not 100%.
  2. Diluting 83% ethanol with distilled water and glycerin according to the combination above gives a final concentration of 62.25%. This is exactly the same concentration of gel type hand sanitizer on the market. For reference, the US Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommends that hand sanitizers contain at least 60% alcohol.1
  3. Glycerin is added for a moisturizing effect.
  4. 83% ethanol, distilled water and glycerin are available at pharmacies or online stores.
  5. According to CDC, isopropyl alcohol or n-propanol can be used as a substitute if ethanol is not available. Whatever type of alcohol is used, hand sanitizers should contain 60% to 95% alcohol.2
  6. The expiration date is based on the shortest expiration date indicated on the materials. (Example: If the expiration date of 83% ethanol is June 1, 2021, and glycerin is December 1, 2021, the expiration date of the hand sanitizer is June 1, 2021.)

As you already know, I am not a native English speaker. Nevertheless, I wrote in English that was not perfect because I thought that health was a common concern for people all over the world. I want to share my little knowledge with those who needed it. Please leave additional questions or comments below. You are welcome to report any errors.

  1. https://www.cdc.gov/handwashing/show-me-the-science-hand-sanitizer.html
  2. https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/PDF/rr/rr5116.pdf

23 thoughts on “How to make a homemade hand sanitizer”

  1. Thank you Sir. Great post with easy to read and follow directions. Doesn’t matter that you are not “native American” because you are a great human being. Again I sincerely thank you.

    1. Hydrogen peroxide can be added to inactivate the bacterial spore contaminating hand sanitizer. However, it is not necessarily added as an active substance to the hand sanitizer for the purpose of protecting the coronavirus. In other words, if hydrogen peroxide is added to the hand sanitizer, it acts to prevent contamination of the hand sanitizer itself rather than to produce a hand sanitizing effect.

    1. In the above recipe, simply replace 83% ethanol with your 99.9% isopropanol. If so, the final concentration of isopropanol in your hand sanitizer will be about 75% by volume. It also meets the requirements of the hand sanitizer presented by the CDC. I hope my answer helped you.

        1. I can’t tell you the amount of isopropanol, glycerin, or water in ml because I don’t know how much you want to make hand sanitizer. I can only tell you the proportions, and that’s what I’ve already explained above.

          If you want to make a hand sanitizer containing 70% isopropanol with 99.9% isopropanol, use a quantitative tool to make the hand sanitizer so that 99.9% isopropanol occupies 70% of the total volume.

              1. Hello, Dr. Shin.

                Thank you for taking the time to write this article and answer questions.

                I am confused on the measurements and would like your help. In the article, are the measurements for 1 liter of hand sanitizer? I ask because the measurements you gave to Don are different than in the article. In the article you wrote “Empty bottle 1 ~ 2L glass bottles or plastic bottles are recommended. Prepare the transparent ones with good visibility inside. 83% Ethanol (Rubbing alcohol) You need 75% of the total amount of hand sanitizer you want to make. For example, if you make 1 liter of hand sanitizer, prepare at least 750 mL of 83% ethanol. Distilled water You need 12.5% of the total amount of hand sanitizer you want to make. For example, if you make 1 liter of hand sanitizer, prepare at least 125 mL of distilled water. Glycerin You need 12.5% of the total amount of hand sanitizer you want to make. For example, if you make 1 liter of hand sanitizer, prepare at least 125 mL of glycerin.
                Source: https://shinseungkeon.com/en/2020/02/05/how-to-make-a-homemade-hand-sanitizer/“. Don asked, “DON Wednesday, March 18, 2020 at 11:06 PM I want to prepare for example 1 Liter” You replied “Reply DR. SHIN Wednesday, March 18, 2020 at 11:13 PM Make a hand sanitizer with the following composition: 99.9% isopropanol 700 ml Glycerin 150 ml Distilled water 150 ml
                Source: https://shinseungkeon.com/en/2020/02/05/how-to-make-a-homemade-hand-sanitizer/“. I want to make this hand sanitizer so I want to be sure I have the correct measurements for it to be effective, that is why I am asking for clarification.

                1. CDC recommends adding at least 60% ethanol or isopropanol to the hand sanitizer. What I wrote on the article is a method that uses 83% ethanol, which is readily available where I live. Don said in his comment that he would use 99.9% isopropanol, so I also suggested another solution for that. In other words, you can make an effective hand sanitizer by adding ethanol or isopropanol to more than 60% by volume.

            1. Hi, Don.

              I had a question relating to your comment and Dr. Shin’s reply to it so I just wanted you to be aware of it as well since I quoted you. Here it is:

              Hello, Dr. Shin.

              Thank you for taking the time to write this article and answer questions.

              I am confused on the measurements and would like your help. In the article, are the measurements for 1 liter of hand sanitizer? I ask because the measurements you gave to Don are different than in the article. In the article you wrote “Empty bottle 1 ~ 2L glass bottles or plastic bottles are recommended. Prepare the transparent ones with good visibility inside. 83% Ethanol (Rubbing alcohol) You need 75% of the total amount of hand sanitizer you want to make. For example, if you make 1 liter of hand sanitizer, prepare at least 750 mL of 83% ethanol. Distilled water You need 12.5% of the total amount of hand sanitizer you want to make. For example, if you make 1 liter of hand sanitizer, prepare at least 125 mL of distilled water. Glycerin You need 12.5% of the total amount of hand sanitizer you want to make. For example, if you make 1 liter of hand sanitizer, prepare at least 125 mL of glycerin.
              Source: https://shinseungkeon.com/en/2020/02/05/how-to-make-a-homemade-hand-sanitizer/“. Don asked, “DON Wednesday, March 18, 2020 at 11:06 PM I want to prepare for example 1 Liter” You replied “Reply DR. SHIN Wednesday, March 18, 2020 at 11:13 PM Make a hand sanitizer with the following composition: 99.9% isopropanol 700 ml Glycerin 150 ml Distilled water 150 ml
              Source: https://shinseungkeon.com/en/2020/02/05/how-to-make-a-homemade-hand-sanitizer/“. I want to make this hand sanitizer so I want to be sure I have the correct measurements for it to be effective, that is why I am asking for clarification.

              1. Hi again, Don. Thankfully, after reading Dr. Shin’s explaination to my question, I am no longer confused. Dr. Shin’s reply to my question and my reply is here: DR. SHIN Monday, March 30, 2020 at 8:14 AM CDC recommends adding at least 60% ethanol or isopropanol to the hand sanitizer. What I wrote on the article is a method that uses 83% ethanol, which is readily available where I live. Don said in his comment that he would use 99.9% isopropanol, so I also suggested another solution for that. In other words, you can make an effective hand sanitizer by adding ethanol or isopropanol to more than 60% by volume.

                Source: https://shinseungkeon.com/en/2020/02/05/how-to-make-a-homemade-hand-sanitizer/#comment-1761

                LISA Tuesday, March 31, 2020 at 10:39 AM Dr. Shin. Thank you for the clarification.

                Source: https://shinseungkeon.com/en/2020/02/05/how-to-make-a-homemade-hand-sanitizer/#comment-1761

    1. Each person may have different expectations about the viscosity of a hand sanitizer. I recommend that you try to modify the above recipe little by little so that you can make a satisfactory hand sanitizer yourself.

      The proportion of ethanol must be maintained. Try changing the ratio only within the portion of glycerin and water. Remember that hand sanitizers are definitely effective if you keep the ratio of ethanol. No matter whether you feel the hand sanitizer is watery or sticky.

      Thank you for the question. I hope my answer helped you.

    1. I am very pleased that my article has helped you. It may be inconvenient to read because it is written in broken English. If you find any improvements, please point them out. With your help, this article will benefit more people.

    1. According to the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), isopropyl alcohol or n-propanol can be used as a substitute if ethanol is not available. Whatever type of alcohol is used, hand sanitizers should contain 60% to 95% alcohol. Washing your hands for 30 seconds or more with a hand sanitizer that meets this condition will remove more than 99% of the virus. Thank you for your question.

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