No need to worry about shortages of hand sanitizer of cleaning wipes. You can make tons of it at home with simple and inexpensive household ingredients
We live in a bit of a rural area dotted with family-owned nurseries, citrus and avocado orchards, and flower farms. Most of the families have been here for several generations and many of my neighbors are well into their 60s and 70s. With the Coronavirus outbreak and the resulting hoarding insanity stripping store shelves, it’s been difficult for these older folk to get the food and supplies they need for what may be an extended stay at home.
That was the case when our neighbor called yesterday afternoon. She and her husband are in their 80’s and neither drive so they depend on grocery deliveries. But the local run on just about everything household had left them without basics like eggs, flour, cleaning supplies, etc. (thankfully, they were just fine on toilet paper).
Luckily they live next to us—quasi-homesteader, prepper, survivalist people who grow and preserve their own food, raise chickens, make bread and soap and all kinds of other hippy stuff. (No, we’re not hippies. We just like growing stuff and making things, and have the space to do it.)
We loaded her up with eggs, flour, dried beans, jars of tomato and pepper preserves, as well as fresh vegetables (go keyhole garden) and citrus. In the box of supplies I also put a little squeezy bottle and a 32 ounce widemouth preserves jar, both full of hand sanitizer.
She looked at the jar, then at me with a questioning look.
“It’s hand sanitizer,” I said. “I make it. As good as any brand from the store.”
After I explained that it was plain old isopropyl alcohol mixed with the gel from aloe vera leaves and that I had learned to make it in boy scouts, she seemed to accept that it was a useful camping item adapted to everyday life and not a weird survivalist compound thing.
But when I explained that if she dipped a cloth in the widemouth jar, she could also use it like a cleaning wipe for sanitizing counters, tables and sinks (like we did in the boy scouts), she went from merely accepting to downright pleased.
Later, it occurred to me that a lot of people might not know how easy (and cheap) it is to make your own sanitizer, so I figured I’d share the recipe with all of you who weren’t lucky enough to learn in boy scouts or on the internets.
How to Make Hand Sanitizer
All you need are a few items you probably have around the house (and garden if you’re using your own aloe), or can easily pick these items up at the store.
- Isopropyl alcohol
- Aloe vera leaves (from the garden) or Aloe Vera gel (available in the skincare section of your store)
- Jar with lid
- Squeeze bottle(s)
Alcohol-based sanitizers are 60-70% alcohol and 30-40% gel. So for simplicity, we just mix the ingredients in these proportions:
- 2 parts isopropyl alcohol
- 1 part aloe vera gel
Two ounces or two gallons, it doesn’t matter how much you make, just use those proportions, and it’ll have the right right in the antiseptic-to-moisturizer ratio. I like to use a 32 ounce preserves jar with ounce/cup measurements on the side because it’s more than enough sanitizer to last a while, and I don’t need another container to measure my proportions.
- Step 1: Add the alcohol – Pour the isopropyl alcohol into your jar first. Aloe gel is blobby so it’s easier to pour it into the alcohol rather than the other way around (I learned the hard way).
- Step 2: Add the aloe gel – If you’re using aloe gel from the store, you can pour directly into the jar along with the alcohol. If you’re using your own aloe, remove the skin from the leaves, scrape out the gel and put it in the jar with the alcohol.
- Step 3: Mix – If you’re using the store gel, you can just put the lid on the jar and shake until mixed well. If you’re using fresh gel, use a fork or stick blender to thoroughly mix the aloe and alcohol.
- Step 4: Rest and Pour – Once it’s mixed, let it sit for a few minutes so the bubbles settle out, then pour it into your squeezy bottle.
That’s it. Your own hand sanitizer.
As I mentioned above, you can also use a cloth with your sanitizer to wipe down, clean and sanitize countertops, sinks, fixtures, etc. The aloe/isopropyl alcohol combo does a nice job of making things shiny and germ free.
If you like this, share it with some friends. They can save money and stay healthy. If they ask where you learned it, tell them from an ex-boy scout.