DIY Essential Oil Hand “Sanitizer”

I heard on the news the other day that along with toilet paper and paper towel (??), stores are selling out of hand sanitizer. My husband said he also saw a post saying it’s completely sold out in Toronto and you can’t buy it anywhere. I understand why the Coronavirus issue is getting more concerning to folks as the number of people infected grows so quickly, but I always try to stay realistic and don’t tend to freak out about those things. I’m not someone to run out and stock up on essentials, but even if I was, hand sanitizer would not be on my list. There is definitely a time and place for it, no question, but generally, we don’t use them.

Why not?

One of the biggest reasons is that I think regular hand washing is sufficient for keeping the spread of germs to a minimum. My family is fortunate in that we’re all healthy and eat a nutrient-dense diet that keeps our immune systems strong, so I don’t feel we need to use hand sanitizer. A few other reasons we avoid it include:

Triclosan and Other Chemicals:  Many hand sanitizers contain Triclosan. It’s an antibacterial chemical found to possibly disrupt hormone function. Besides the fact that our bodies have enough detoxifying to do with the everyday exposure to chemicals we can’t avoid (why would we add to our toxic load when we don’t have to), my girls and I have been working very hard to correct hormone balances in our bodies and the last thing we want to do is mess it up! Besides triclosan, many of these products contain other chemicals and synthetic fragrances that can disrupt hormone balance and possibly harm the body in other ways we’re not aware of. I also don’t like that there’s no regulation that requires all ingredients to be listed on the bottle, making it impossible to even be sure what’s in them. (Another important thing to note is that a hand sanitizer must contain at least 60% ethanol to kill Coronavirus (and even this seems to be up for debate), so if you choose to go with the chemicals, at least make sure you’re using one that’s worth it!) 

It Kills Good AND Bad: I grew up with a mom who was far from a germ-a-phobe and I’m grateful for that because I think it played a role in why we were rarely sick. She believed avoiding exposure to all germs was not a good idea and I adopted the same philosophy with my own kids. I firmly believe being exposed to some germs and bacteria helps to strengthen our immune systems and it seems to have worked very well for my family – we rarely even get a cold and the odd time we do, it’s usually mild and gone in a few days. Hand sanitizer kills ALL the bacteria on the skin and I think that adds to the problem, as well- especially with children. They need exposure to germs so their immune systems know what to fight and how to fight it. Killing all bacteria means the good bacteria goes too, but we need that to help fight the bad stuff!

Other (and Better) Options: Eating a whole foods diet, getting enough sleep at night (that would be 7.5-8 hours, more when you’re sick), managing stress, and of course, washing your hands are more effective ways to strengthen your immune system and prevent you from getting sick. These everyday practices support your immune system, making sure it’s ready to fight off whatever comes your way.

Having said all of that, I do like to have a little “back up” for those times when I want to wash my hands but can’t – especially when I’m traveling. For this, I make my own natural hand “sanitizer”, using essential oils. These oils inhibit bacteria naturally, so they can provide some piece of mind (on subways or buses, after getting hit by bird poop, touching meat in the grocery store, etc), without  harmful chemicals. Keep in mind however, these oils/recipe are not a substitute for proper hand washing, which should be your first line of defense whenever possible. Just as with hand sanitizer, they won’t kill Coronavirus, either, but they’re great as a back-up until you’re able to find some soap and a sink.

My favourite antibacterial essential oil is the OnGuard blend from doTERRA (I swear this stuff has kept colds and stomach bugs away from us – which I still find amazing!). I also use it for all of our cleaning needs at home – hand soap, dish soap, and all purpose cleaning. Tea tree (melaleuca), peppermint, orange, and eucalyptus are other antibacterial essential oils that would be great to use in this recipe. The beauty of making my own cleanser is that  I can tailor the smell to my liking! A quick internet search will bring up many different recipes, but this is the one I use (it’s basically my Immune Bomb recipe, without oregano – so I don’t smell like an Italian restaurant all day!):

DIY Non-Toxic Essential Oil Hand “Cleanser”

  • 2 oz glass spray bottle (I use these)
  • 10 drops OnGuard, 5 drops lemon, 5 drops tea tree, 3 drops Frankincense  (or other antibacterial combination you prefer)
  • 2 tbsp vodka or witch hazel (I prefer vodka as it has 40% ethanol, 15% for witch hazel)
  • 1 tbsp aloe vera gel (optional, but soothing for skin)
  • distilled water (for top up)
Add essential oils, vodka (or witch hazel) and aloe vera to the spray bottle. Cap the bottle and shake to combine. Top up the mixture with distilled water and shake again to combine. Spray on hands and rub together to spread evenly.
We all have to make the choices we feel work best for ourselves and our families. In our house, we’ve chosen to go the natural route whenever it’s feasible and it’s been working well for us. If you give this recipe a try, I’ve love to know what you think. And if you don’t have the ingredients but would like to try it, send me an email…I have them available all mixed up and ready to spray!