DIY Hand Sanitizer Gel

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

DIY Hand Sanitizer Gel

I was in college when hand sanitizer gel (also called as alcogel) became so popular that most of my classmates had this tiny hand sanitizer container hanging from their bags. Alcogel is simply alcohol in gel form and it comes in variety of scents and colors (some even have microbeads). The most basic alcohol-based hand sanitizer gel is using this formulation. Based on this formula, the main ingredients of hand sanitizer gel are: water, ethanol (alcohol), glycerin, carbomer (thickening agent), triethanolamine (pH adjuster) and fragrance. Some hand sanitizers also contain an antibacterial agent called triclosan. Triclosan is quite a controversial ingredient because there are some studies claiming that overuse of this antibacterial ingredient may lead to the development of antibiotic resistance. It is for this reason that the US Food & Drug Administration (FDA) has already banned the usage of triclosan in antibacterial hand and body washes.

For my own version of hand sanitizer gel, I used most of the basic ingredients except for carbomer and triethanolamine. I replaced carbomer with xanthan gum which is a cosmetic thickener approved by the Natural Products Association. I didn’t use any pH adjuster for my recipe because the resulting product had a pH between 6 to 7 which was totally fine with me. If you happened to have a different pH than mine, then you may add citric acid (to lower the pH) or sodium hydroxide (to raise the pH). For the fragrance, I decided to use essential oils. In order to increase the germ-killing action of your hand sanitizer, you may use essential oils that have antibacterial, antiviral or antifungal (or all of the above) properties. Some of these essential oils are lavender, tea tree, peppermint, lemongrass, eucalyptus, orange, rosemary, cinnamon among others. Finally, make sure that you use at least 70% rubbing alcohol solution (either ethyl or isopropyl) to make the hand sanitizer more antibacterial. If you don’t like to use alcohol because you find it drying, then you can replace it with witch hazel or add a little bit of aloe vera to make it moisturizing. In my personal opinion though, I don’t think that witch hazel is as effective as rubbing alcohol when it comes to killing bacteria. Witch hazel also contains alcohol but only 14% at most, so it has a weaker antibacterial property compared with alcohol.

Do we need to add preservative to this hand sanitizer recipe? According to my research, any product that contains water in the formulation should have a preservative. One of the few exceptions to this rule is when the product contains high level of alcohol thus making it self-preserving. Therefore, we don’t need to add preservative to the hand sanitizer recipe.

(Makes one 50ml bottle)

14.2 g Distilled water
0.1 g Xanthan gum
0.5 g Glycerin
30 g Rubbing alcohol
5 g Aloe vera gel
0.2 g Essential oils of your choice

Special Equipment

Pocket-sizedigital weighing scale


  1. Dissolve xanthan gum in glycerin. Mix very well until there are no more lumps.
  2. Add water into the xanthan gum-glycerin mixture a little at a time and mix vigorously until a gel is formed.
  3. Add the aloe vera gel, rubbing alcohol and essential oil (one ingredient at a time) into the mixture and mix well.
  4. Transfer the mixture into a clean hand sanitizer container.
Where to buy the materials

The resulting product is an opaque hand sanitizer with a thinner gel consistency. If you want to make the gel thicker in texture, then you may add a little bit more xanthan gum. Just remember, don’t add too much xanthan gum or else your hand sanitizer will have a pudding-like and sticky texture. When using xanthan gum as natural thickener, it is already expected that the resulting mixture is opaque. If you really want a clear gel mixture, then you have to replace xanthan gum with carbomer which is a synthetic thickener.

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links, which means that if you click on one of the product links and purchase the products, I’ll receive some commission.

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  1. Hi! What is the gel's validity? Should it be stored in a refrigerator?

    1. Hi Aline. You don't need to store it in the refrigerator. Based on my observation, mine lasted for 4 months and it is still ok (no mold in sight). If this is for personal use, my advice is to create a small batch to maintain product freshness. If the product develops mold, then it's time to throw it away. Hope that helps :)


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