This outbreak of coronavirus has caused hand sanitizer to be sold out in stores and online throughout the country. Instructions for DIY Hand Sanitizer have been popping up all over the internet, flyers are being handed out in stores, and news stations, influencers, and beauty brands are all offering formulas and advice. According to the CDC, hand sanitizer needs to be at least 60% alcohol content to be effective in killing viruses and bacteria and unfortunately, much of what is circulating right now will not produce a hand sanitizer that meets this threshold. I have always been a champion of the DIY movement and while I love the support we are offering each other during this disconcerting time, if the information is incorrect then it’s doing more harm than good. 

Here is one of the most common incorrect formulas I have seen circulating:

  • 2/3 cup rubbing alcohol or 80 proof vodka
  • 1/3 cup aloe
  • 6-8 drops tea tree
  • 8-19 drops EO

Following this recipe using 80 proof vodka WILL NOT sanitize your hands! Let’s not confuse the proof of an alcohol with the actual alcohol content. For example 80 proof vodka is only 40% alcohol. So you will never make a 60% alcohol hand sanitizer with 80 proof vodka, period.

To make an effective DIY Hand Sanitizer that contains anything more than just the alcohol (such as aloe vera), you need something stronger than 120 proof, or more than 60% alcohol. At Sumbody, we use 200 proof alcohol for our Be Wise Hand Sanitizer. This allows us to be able to add witch hazel to help purify and enough aloe vera to keep your skin soft and feeling great while still making a hand sanitizer that is over 70% alcohol. 

Most alcohol-based hand sanitizers contain one or a combination of isopropanol, ethanol, or n-propanol. They work by disrupting the cellular metabolism of microorganisms. Studies have found that the antimicrobial activity is most effective in solutions containing 60% to 95% alcohol. Interestingly, higher concentrations of alcohol have been found to be less effective because proteins are not broken down as efficiently without the presence of water. Additionally, research has shown that ethanol is the most effective against viruses and the propanols against bacteria, more science on alcohol-based hand sanitizer here.

If you have the right ingredients, in the correct proportions, you can make an effective hand sanitizer: 

  • 10 tablespoons of 190 proof alcohol like Everclear alcohol 
  • 2.5 tablespoons TOTAL of any combination of aloe vera, witch hazel or glycerin
  • A few drops of essential oil

Still confused and want a DIY Hand Sanitizer? I’m happy to help you out with your formula. Here is how to get advice:

Visit @sumbodyskincare on Instagram – Leave a comment on my DIY Hand Sanitizer post with the ingredients you want to use. Make sure to include the type and proof (or %) of alcohol you’re using. We’ll post your formula so everyone else can use it too!

Not up for DIY’ing Hand Sanitizer? We still have some in stock on! We are working hard with our vendors to keep everyone in supply. 

While these past few weeks have been unsettling, let it serve as a reminder that we are all interconnected and that our actions affect each other. We are stronger together than alone.

With light, health, and sanitized hands,


For more natural beauty recipes, check out Debbi Burne’s book, Natural Beauty Skin Care: 110 Organic Formulas for a Radiant You!

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