Homemade Hand Sanitizer with Essential Oils

Make Your Own Hand Sanitizer

Let me start off by saying this: I am NOT a germaphobe…

I think society’s current obsession with anti-bacterial everything is not only useless, but also dangerous. (I’m not interested in having Triclosan in my home, or contributing to the possible creation of antibiotic-resistant super bugs…)

I refuse to use bleach to clean, and I won’t buy anything labeled as “antibacterial” (soap, towels, cleaning supplies, etc…)

(Looking for some ways to replace the chemical-laden cleaning products in your home? Check out my collection of Natural Cleaning Tips!)

I’ve always wondered why it’s so important for people to sterilize and disinfect their toilet bowl… I mean, even if you do blast it with bleach, it’s only going to stay “disinfected” until the next use… Sure, I like to wipe down the outside of my toilet bowl with one of my homemade all-purpose cleaners, and I do clean the inside with vinegar and baking soda, but since I don’t plan to eat out of it, I don’t feel the need to “sterilize” it…

I know a lot of new mothers are quite sensitive about their babies being around dirt, but I am sort of the opposite… I truly believe that raising kids around dirt strengthens their immune system.

Prairie Girl has eaten her fair share of grass, dirt, hay, and possibly even *cough* goat poop. (No, I didn’t feed her the poop on purpose, but sometimes toddlers put things in their mouth before you can stop them. Don’t send me any nasty letters, please.) I also have no problem sitting on a bucket in the barn to breastfeed my babies if they get hungry while we are outside.

Needless to say, I’m not a big fan of those “waterless hand sanitizers” that everyone likes… I’ve never cared to use them, but this year has changed my mind a bit. It’s not “natural” dirt that I’m worried about, but rather all the nasty flu bugs that have been floating around…

Now, if one of us does come down with a bug, you can bet that I am well-equipped to go into battle with my trusty stash of essential oils. However, if I can avoid the issue to start with, I will.

Make your own hand sanitizer with essential oils

I came across this recipe for DIY hand sanitizer and I decided to mix up a batch (with some of my own tweaks, of course). I’m sticking it in the diaper bag and plan to use it when we are running errands in town.

I like the fact that is all-natural and doesn’t contain harsh alcohols or synthetic ingredients. Plus, it leaves my hands feeling soft.

Homemade Essential Oil Hand Sanitizer


  • 4 oz glass spray bottle
  • Water
  • 2 teaspoons aloe vera gel (buy it on Amazon–(affiliate link))
  • 8-10 drops of vitamin E oil, optional (buy it on Amazon–(affiliate link))
  • 30 drops total of one of the following essential oil combinations:

Lemon, lime, melaleuca, and lavender OR the DIY Anti-Bacterial Oil blend


Make your own hand sanitizer with essential oils

Fill the bottle half-full with water. Add the aloe vera gel, vitamin E oil, and essential oils. Fill the remaining space in the bottle with water and shake well.

Spray liberally on your hands and rub together. Repeat as needed.

Homemade Hand Sanitizer with Essential Oils


  • 4 oz glass spray bottle (not plastic!)
  • Water
  • 2 teaspoons aloe vera gel
  • 30 drops total of one of the following essential oil combinations:
  • Lemon, lime, melaleuca, and lavender OR my DIY anti-bacterial blend OR doTERRA’s On Guard blend
  • Optional: 8-10 drops of vitamin E oil


  1. Fill your glass bottle half-full with water
  2. Add aloe vera gel, vitamin E oil, and essential oils
  3. Fill any remaining space in bottle with water and shake well
  4. To use: spray liberally on hands and rub together
  5. Repeat as needed

A few notes:

  • I used the vitamin E oil since it is nourishing for skin. If you don’t have it, that’s OK.
  • If your spray bottle is bigger or smaller, no worries. Just adjust the recipe accordingly.
  • Why I chose the lemon/lime/lavender/melaleuca combination of oils: Lemon, lime, and melaleuca are fabulous for protecting against environmental threats. The lavender also has some of these properties, but I mostly added it to make it smell pretty. 😉
  • Be extra cautious adding “hot” oils, such as cinnamon or clove, to this recipe, especially if you are planning on using this blend on children.
  • I use and love doTERRA essential oils, and have had incredible success with them. You can read more about doTERRA essential oils here.

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  1. Shay Logan says

    Good morning, I just want to say I thoroughly love all your posts!! We are beginning homesteaders in NM, and I have gleaned a lot of useful information from you. As for this one, we totally share the same view on dirt and not having any of that antibacterial stuff in our house. Thank you for this post. This will definitely be one of my faves and I will share this with everyone I know.

  2. says

    I agree with you 100%! We’re using up the last of our store bought anti-bacterial products and then we’re switching over to vinegar, baking soda, and other natural things.

  3. Dianna annette says

    Out of these three is there one I SHOULDN’T use while pregnant? Thanks for your time, we all enjoy the posts and are glad you feel like sharing the knowledge! :)

    • Jill says

      Hi Dianna,
      You should be just fine using the lemon/lime/melaleuca/lavender combo while pregnant. My book says to avoid cinnamon & rosemary while pregnant, so you might use caution with those (the Thieves and On Guard blend contain both of those).

      To be honest, I used On Guard during my pregnancy without problem, and so have many others. However, it’s always wise to proceed with caution. 😉

  4. Paula M says

    Great timing for this post! Thank you! I was thinking yesterday that I needed to find a homeopathic recipe so I can get away from these alcohol-based, store-bought versions {and be kid-safe since I have a newborn} to help us get through this flu/RSV/Whooping cough season without catching it ourselves [hopefully]. I will be making this TODAY (I’m only missing the lime one but figure that will be okay).

  5. Debbie says

    Just want to point out that the flu bug is a virus, not bacterial. So you might want to consider ramping up your antiviral essential oils. I work in a retirement center and we are constantly reminded that the best defense to a virus is to wash hand throughly. Antibacterials won’t work on the flu.

  6. Madonna says

    I signed up for your newsletter but didnot receive the free ebook d/l..I really enjoy your site and have used some of the recipes you post ..thank you

    • Jill says

      Hi Madonna,
      The link to download will be at the top of each email you receive (like the hand sanitizer one this morning.) If you are still having trouble, send me an email and I’ll make sure you get a copy.

  7. says

    Oh, we are so on the same page about “real’ dirt. I have no problem it. We wash when apropritate, of course, but I fully believe that you need a bit of dirt in your diet, to stay healthy. I do try to keep us from eating poop, but seriously? Kids, animals and delicious “treats” growing all over the yard. You know they don’t wash the peas or strawberries they snatch when I’m not looking before they pop it in their mouth. Thanks for sharing, I’ll have to try this for when we can’t get a proper handwashing in.

  8. Kimberly says

    I signed up for your blog to come to me via e-mail just to get the essential oil e-book but never received it even though I’m now getting your posts sent to me :(. Any way I can still get this? Any tips on where to get a glass spray bottle? Thanks so much! Enjoying your blog!

    • Jill says

      Hi Kimberly-
      The download link for the eBook will be at the top of each newsletter email you receive. So if you go back and check the hand sanitizer post that went out yesterday, you’ll see it there. You can get the spray bottles at http://www.aromatools.com

  9. Susan says

    You cracked me up with the line about sanitizing the toilet bowl. I have often commented on the same thing when seeing commercials for toilet cleaner on TV. They always brag about the inside of the bowl being sanitized. Who cares!?! I can’t tell you how many times I’ve talked back to the TV and wondered out loud why the inside of the bowl needs to be sterile. Are those big, bad germies going to jump up and bite us in the rear if the bowl isn’t “sterilized”?

    Thanks for the recipe for the hand sanitizer, BTW. Can’t wait to try it!

  10. says

    Those alcohol based sanitisers are very dangerous around kids too. I read an article a few years back of a young girl sent home from school and taken to hospital with an unknown ailment. It took them ages to work out what was wrong and what had happened but she had been using the sanitiser to clean her hands then licking her hands and by the time she had her blood alcohol limit tested she was insanely drunk. That was several hours after being sent home so I can only imagine the level of alcohol that had been in her system. Not the parents or teachers fault at all but most definitely a warning against letting kids around them.
    I bought a brand here in Australia online once called Sterimist. It was alcohol free and based on citric acid I think.
    We too have plenty of germs in our house and I too have had 2 kids (out of 3) have a taste of the “not chocolate” possum poo I’d missed sweeping up off our back deck. They were just fine and my kids never get sick! In fact we’ve all had 1 cold in 12 months and that was nothing more than a slight sniffle for a day. Germs can be our friends. :)
    Thanks for sharing this great recipe too. It will be tucked away for future reference for a bad flu season. :)

    • Jill says

      Ugh– that story is so scary! Best to just steer clear of them altogether I think. Totally agree– germs can be friends! 😉

  11. Valerie says

    I enjoyed your book & recipes! I, too am a doTerra rep & have been very happy using their products. I also feel I can afford them instead of Doctor visits and prescription medicines. I have noticed many of the oils have usage cautions for those who are pregnant. Not a concern for myself, but I have many friends of child bearing age, so I always check the caution in the individual oil description before recommending use – they don’t really say what the concern is, though, do you know? I know there are certain herbs that can cause miscarriage, but have no idea what the concern is with those certain oils. I love your blog. Even though I live in the suburbs surrounding Houston, I try to implement as many natural and healthy lifestyle habits as I can! Thank you for all of your tips!

    • Jill says

      I totally agree– I don’t mind spending the money for quality (doTERRA) oils since they are saving us money in doctors visits and meds! I’ve heard a lot of different things about oils and pregnancy— I know I was scared to death to use anything when I first started using them (I was in my 2nd trimester), but after doing more research, I became more comfortable. For example– some sources say clary sage can stimulate uterine contractions, but I tried to use it when I was days away from my due date to “throw” me into labor, and it didn’t. I am doubtful that it would cause a miscarriage– however– everyone’s body is different, so it is still wise to use caution. 😉

    • Jill says

      I think that part should be ok Crystal– mostly since the mixture isn’t sitting and soaking on it like it is on the rest of the bottle.

  12. Bobbi says

    I totally agree about sanitizing everything. They need to get into a little dirt once in a while to build their immune system up! Lord knows what we ate when we were little, lol. 😉 I am sure we ate dirt and lots of other things that are not good for you. But what a childhood we had! Thanks for the post. I subscribe via RSS.

  13. Crystal says

    I made this with our aloe vera plants from backyard and the thieves oil blend. I’m keeping it at our kitchen table to clean our hands before eating, just during flu season. Thanks for the recipe.

  14. Deanna says

    A little goat poo never hurt anyone! :)

    I remember after I had my little boy that one of the ladies at work made on comment on how sterile my house must be and maybe that’s why my child was always sick. I was so insulted! My house was NOT clean much less sterile! That’s not to say that we lived like pigs, but I didn’t and still don’t obsess over a little tracked in dirt – I’ll sweep it up but I’m not busting out the steam mop at every offending particle. I haven’t used bleach since two years before baby was born. And there’s nothing that he can get on himself outside that can’t be remedied with a good spray down from the water hose and old fashioned soap. What was making my child sick, though, is living in the city and constantly being exposed to a steady stream of viruses and bacteria in the daycare setting. Hence the reason I carry around wipes and bacterial sprays – for when we’re in public and touching the cart that the last three people used to wipe their sneezes and snot on. Those are germs that worry me! I love the recipe you posted here and will definitely be giving it a go!

  15. Tara says

    Jill, this post came just in time before we went camping. I was not looking forward to sharing PortaPotties with 399 of my new friends with no handwashing facilities!! While they provided chemical laden hand sanitizer for everyone, I was SO glad to have my own, safer alternative. We came home with pictures and memories, but NO colds. :) I wish I had had this when I went on a cruise last year and caught Strep throat! I made mine with aloe from my plant, the 4 oils (NOW brand) and the vitamin e, so it was moisturizing as well as sanitizing. I can hardly wait to read your book. Thanks for always providing such awesome and helpful information!!!

    • Jill says

      Yay! Comments like this make me smile. :) SO happy it worked for you! (And can I say that I’m jealous of your aloe plant?)

  16. Heike says

    Hi Jill,
    I happened upon your webpage and subscribed and already downloaded your book. I am looking forward to explore all your tips and recipes. I share your opinion about dirt and commercial cleaners. I clean everything with baking soda and vinegar.
    I have a question about a substitute for bleach, though. We started making our own cheese from milk we geet from a farmer and of course it is very important to keep everything you use pretty sterile. The books and webpages I read always call for bleach, but I don’t want to use that stuff. Any ideas what I could use instead?
    Thanks and regards from New Zealand!

  17. Emma says

    What about tea-tree? do you use that? what about shelf life? how long can you keep this?

    • says

      Yes– you could use tea tree oil. (I just call it melaleuca) I would imagine that this would keep at least a couple months if not a whole lot longer. 😉

  18. says

    Witch Hazel alone will do the same thing. Of course you can always scent it if you like, just be careful of which type of essential oil you use. Citrus oil is photo-toxic, that means to becomes a poison in the sun.

  19. Kathy Morgan-Thompson says

    This may be a silly question. Is the quantity of the 4 essential oil drops you have listed, a total of 30 drops, not 30 drops of each oil?

  20. Michelle Patterson says

    Thanks for sharing! We are on our way to a chemical free household!

  21. Tara says

    We just made a batch of this and love it! – although I did tweat it a bit, trying to combine all the various recipes there are out there! I used an 8 ounce bottle and eyeballed the ingredients: approx 6oz of aloe vera gel, 2tbs witch hazel, 30 drops of tea tree oil, 10 of lavendar and sweet orange. Since I’m still learning what oils do what and what strengths they have to be to do their jobs, I’m hoping it was enough to do the job! I just recycled an old hand santiizer bottle, since we had so many of them :( , I just emptied them and washed them out. After reading all the things about the importance of the bottle, was that not the right thing to do? And my aloe says it has to be refrigerated after opening….does this apply to the and sanitizer?
    Also, as I was thinking of all the ingredients in this, is there any reason we can’t use this for other skin ailments? My kids and husband have itchy skin, my husband has some rather uncomfortable male itching (sorry for the TMI!) and I was wondering if he/they can just use this mixture on more than their hands? I’m still learning the multi-purposes of a single oil, and overwhelmed by the amount of things blends can do but still confused on the strengths they have to be to do their job. So thankful for your blog to help learn the ropes! :)

    • Tara says

      Also, just a little note, so many pump bottles dispense too much of the contents in one pump, and with this being much more watery than soap, you get a lot! I was given a little tip from a friend – wrap a rubber band around the neck of the pump and it stops it from being pressed all the way down. I did that for the pump we use for our home made laundry soap. Now my 7 year old can help with laundry and I don’t have to worry about how much soap she adds :)

    • says

      Hey Tara,
      Your bottle *should* be ok. I never put any EO mixtures that I plan to eat in a plastic container, however, since this is not something you are going to ingest, it should be ok. 😉 And yes- you could most definitely use a blend like this for more uses than just hand sanitizer. Melaleuca (tea tree) and Lavender oils are good for many, many different uses!

    • says

      bThe purpose of this mixture is a sanitizer, it has nothing to for with rashes although lemon and lime can improve acne. For crashes and other skin ailments, just use coconut oil. Coconut oil is not an essential oil, it will be sold with the cooking oils. Since you’re not eating it and toxin-profit brands don’t make coconut oil, the cheapest one available is probably fine (I’ve never seen a coconut oil that had extra ingredients but that’s really the only thing you have to look for). For cooking, eating, or making baby formula, get raw virgin coconut oil – most all coconut oil is virgin oil, but the word raw is what will usually make it expensive. If the raw coconut oil is too expensive, look for “expelled pressed”, which a mechanical process and therefore SHOULD be raw as well. However, for the skin ailments, any brand should be fine.

  22. Judy Hudgins says

    I am really enjoying your site — I am new to essential oils and the recipes are wonderfully helpful. I do have a newbie (dumb) question. Any suggestions on the best way to get Aloe Vera gel into the small bottle opening. It just clogged up a funnel. Thanks, Judy

  23. Jeriann says

    I’ve been making my own hand sanitizer spray for several years but I simply use colloidal silver mixed with a few drops of EO. I’d love to hear you opinion on that as I have been assuming it’s all good. Thank you for all of your sharing.

  24. Vieve says

    New to essential oils also and after finding out hand sanitizer does not kill flu viruses, I’ve been looking for an alternative. It’s the only antibacterial we use, and 2x a wk. at most. Can you point me to research that shows one/some of these items cut the cell walls of the multitude of flu viruses, much less, influenza? I’d run out and make this now, if I could find that info! Nice if it kills random viruses, but for sure flu?

  25. Amy says

    Since aloe vera gel can be a little thick, what about using alcohol free witch hazel with aloe? I’ve made some using DIY thieves oil blend and it smells divine! Do you think it’d be as good a mixture as your recipe?

  26. says

    Thank you so very much!! I’m one of those people who get sick all the time, and I’m planning a missions trip to Central America. I’m going to try and do without the vaccines, and am loading up on good info in order to stay healthy and germ free!

    Thanks again!

  27. Megan Saxbury says

    i read the anti bac oil an thought even before i read tjhis page, hey i will add those to my homemade hand lotion and throw out that stuff i bought for those times i really need to clean my hands and cant wash. been trying ti make my own for 2 heart with no success. yaaaa! ok so when do i find this stuff handy. been to a festvail lately. port potties. yuk! just one of the times I find it helpful. or church where they hVE A DAY CARE. SURE I CAN WASH MY KIDS HANDS BUT IF I PUT THIS ON FIRST ALL THE GREMS SHE PICS UP WILL BE KILLED BEOFRE SHE GET THEM IN MONTH. ooops sorry caps.maybe she wont be sick every time we fur around. i spray her feet to and around her shoulders

  28. Dana Daffron says

    Commenting on a post from earlier on this page about sterilization of your toilet bowl and it only being effective until the next use.

    My thought process on this is: When you flush a toilet a very fine mist of water contaminated with whatever is deposited in the bowl, or growing from lack of occasional thorough sterilization, is sprayed all over your bathroom and inhaled by whomever is in the bathroom while it remains airborne. To reduce the chance of some creepy bacteria getting a free ride into every nook and cranny of your bathroom I say what harm is there in giving your toilet a thorough cleaning then sterilization. Plus teach your family to flush with the lid down!! Just one moms opinion.



  29. says

    These are always great ideas! I haven’t tried them yet, but I enjoy seeing what you make and hopefully soon I’ll start trying them out. I was wondering, though, if you have any come up with anything to fight the stomach flu bugs that go around (norovirus, etc., since they’re different than the regular flu). I’d love to have a homemade concoction to protect against that!

  30. Rachel says

    What do you think of tea tree oil? I’m new to essential oils and DIY products but am anxious to learn more. With a 9 mo old at home I’ve been growing more concerned about having chemical laden products around her and am looking to transition to more natural products. I’ve been reading great things about tea tree oil for cleaning and hand sanitizers but have also read it shouldn’t be used around children/babies or women who are pregnant or nursing. I use hand sanitizer as a fast way to clean my hands after each diaper change and can’t have a product that could be dangerous to my baby or my milk supply. Any thoughts or suggestions?

    • says

      Tea tree can be a great addition to cleaning products, etc. It’s antibacterial as well as antifungal. As far as its safety, everyone seems to have a different opinion. Personally, it’s not an oil that I consider to be dangerous (as long as you use common sense.) But, opinions on EOs vary. 😉

    • says

      The reason some people might say things like that is because tea tree oil is harmful if ingested. So don’t put it on your baby’s hands.

  31. anita says

    my recipe is similar i use witch hazel and aloe gel – i have not been adding any EOs but may in the future . thanks for the suggestions :)

  32. says

    I love this! I use Aloe Vera and Lavender EO in a squirt bottle and keep it in the car for after we go shopping during flu season. It works so well and doesn’t dry out your skin or create super bugs! Great post :)

  33. Annie says

    LOL! When our son was about 9 months old, he and I accompanied my husband to San Diego for his job. One day while my husband was working, I rented a bicycle with a baby seat and took my son on a beautiful ride along the ocean. After a while, I stopped to rest and admire the view, so I set my son down on the grass. When I looked down at him, he was chewing something. I quickly determined it was SEA GULL POOP he picked up from the grass!! So no nasty-gram from me oabout kids eating goat poop! By the way, he’s 29 now and had a very healthy childhood (and no other poop that I know of).
    Thanks for this post. I’m off to make this hand sanitizer. I need one in my vehicle.

  34. Kara S says

    Thank you for the recipe – I used it with the On Guard essential oil and it’s great! I want to try a different fragrance though, as it is summer time and every time I use the On Guard blend people say “it smells like Halloween!” – which isn’t a bad thing, but maybe I might like the lavender. But, I’m curious, with the 30 drops total…are they pretty evenly split amongst the lemon, lime, melaleuca and lavender? Or can you tell us what you tend to use and like?
    Also, someone asked about how to get the aloe vera gel into the small bottle. I used one of the small medicine syringes for babies. Just stuck it in the bottle of aloe vera gel and sucked it up and then squirted it in the glass container. Just so happens the syringe holds 5ml, so I did two syringe-full squirts. which equals two teaspoons!
    Thanks for this post!

  35. says

    Great info! I am also a wellness advocate for doTERRA as well as an acupuncturist. I’m wondering if you have any tips on how to convert this recipe into a gel that you can pump out. I need large quantities to use at my clinic. The one I made so far with water, aloe, vitamin e and On Guard came out a bit too gooey.