When the entire world is fighting against the lethal coronavirus, both CDC and WHO guides us that the only way to combat this infection is by practising good hand hygiene habits. This usually involves the age-old technique of washing hands with soap and water but if the latter isn’t available, the next best option to stop the virus from spreading is by using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer containing at least 60% of alcohol. 

hand sanitizer

Though handwashing might still be much more effective in many cases since it not only removes germs but also gets rid of dust and dirt, a sanitizer is a perfect saviour when you are travelling, sitting inside vehicles, need to have a snack while on the go or if there is no bathroom or availability of water nearby.

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What Is A Hand Sanitizer?

A Hand Sanitizer is a water-less disinfectant that is available in the form of liquid, gel or foam and is extensively used to diminish or kill microbes present on the hands. Although nowadays there have been different varieties of hand sanitizers, healthcare organisations chiefly prefer the ones made with alcohol since they are better tolerated and much more effective in removing microbes from the hand. Also Read: Coronavirus: Not All Masks And Sanitizers Are Same. Know The Difference To Use Effectively

Purpose Of Alcohol In A Sanitizer

Alcohol has been used in the form of an effective antiseptic since the year 1363. Noted as a good germ killer, alcohol can coagulate the germ proteins. Then again, a solution of 70% alcohol, that is, rubbing alcohol, is far more effective antiseptic than 100 % alcohol. Since the 1980’s sanitizers formulated with rubbing alcohol is quite common in the western nations. The alcohol-based version is also included in the List of Essential Medicines of the World Health Organization, as one of the safest and most effective components needed in a health care system.

Components Of A Hand Sanitizer

As mentioned by the World Health Organisation, the composition of hand sanitizers that are manufactured in large-scale industries can be done in two ways.

A Lab-Scale Composition

Formulation I


Ethanol 96% v/v, 833.3 ml

H2o2 3%, 41.7 ml

Glycerol 98%,14.5 ml

Sterile or distilled water

Formulation II


Isopropyl alcohol (with a purity of 99.8%), 751.5 ml

H2o2 3%, 41.7 ml

Glycerol 98%, 14.5 ml

Sterile or distilled water

Method For Both Formulations:

Pour all the ingredients into a 1000 ml graduated flask.

Top up the flask to 1000 ml with distilled water or water that has been boiled and cooled.

Shake the flask gently to mix the content.

Pour it in bottles for use.

Types Of Hand Sanitizers

Depending upon the active ingredients being used, hand sanitizers can be segregated as one of the two types: Alcohol-based and Alcohol-free.

Hand sanitizers made using alcohol typically contain between 60 and 95 percent of alcohol, usually in the form of isopropanol, ethanol, or n-propanol. The presence of alcohol in the given concentration immediately denatures proteins of the microbes, and thus effectively neutralizing certain types of microorganisms.

Whereas the alcohol-free alternatives are usually based on disinfectants, such as benzalkonium chloride (BAC), or antimicrobial agents, such as triclosan. The action of disinfectants and antimicrobial agents is both immediate and persistent.

Nowadays, various types of hand sanitizers are being manufactured that not only contains the above-mentioned active ingredients but also contain emollients (e.g., glycerine or aloe vera gel) that soothe and moisturise the skin, thickening agents, and essential oils to enhance the fragrance of the product.

How To Make Hand Sanitizer At Home?

Due to the growing pandemic, there is super demand for these water-less disinfectants. Unless you already have some stocked at home, it is quite an arduous task to get a small bottle at any store or order online. Also Read: DIY Hand Sanitizers: 3 Cool Ideas To Disinfect Your Hands

But the silver lining in the dark cloud is that it isn’t difficult to whip up. With some easily available ingredients, you can make a batch of sanitizer right at the safety of your homes.

Home-made Hand Sanitizer Recipe


2 cups of isopropyl alcohol (99% vol)

1 cup of aloe vera gel (fresh or store-bought)

5 drops of citronella essential oil

5 drops of clove oil

10 drops of lavender essential oil


Sanitize the working area with bleach to avoid germs.

Wash your hands thoroughly before touching any of the ingredients.

Mix the aloe vera gel and alcohol in a mixing bowl.

Add the essential oils one by one while continuing to stir.

Pour the sanitizer in a pump bottle for future use.

Points To Note:

  • According to the CDC, one must keep in mind the key to making an effective, germ-busting hand sanitizer is to maintain the proportion of alcohol to aloe vera as 2:1. This keeps the alcohol content around 60 percent which is the minimum amount needed to kill most germs.
  • Since the formulation contains alcohol, you should handle it carefully as the component is flammable.
  • Wear a mask while formulating the sanitizer at home to avoid smelling the chemicals being used or accidentally sneezing or coughing into it.

 How To Use Hand Sanitizer?

  • Spray or apply the sanitizer to the palm of one hand.
  • Rub both the palms together until the entire hand gets covered with the sanitizer.
  • Continue rubbing for 30 to 60 seconds or until the hands are dry.

What Germs Can A Hand Sanitizer Protect From?

Although a hand sanitizer cannot work well if the hands are dirty or greasy, maintaining the recommended concentration of rubbing alcohol can make it extremely effective against a wide range of germs and disease-causing pathogens and is also found effective against the ongoing deadly SARS-COV-2 virus.

That being said, CDC also mentions that hand sanitizers are not always effective in case of certain chemicals and they cannot kill pathogens like Cryptosporidium, Clostridium difficile and Norovirus.

Advantages Of Hand Sanitizer

Sanitation: The foremost benefit of hand sanitizer is that it disinfects hands and is effective in eliminating at least 99% of germs.

Portability: In situations of unavailability of water, these disinfectants are saviours while on the go since being available in pocket-sized bottles they can be carried anywhere and everywhere.

Soothing And Moisturising: This might sound surprising, but a variety of sanitizers nowadays contain additives like aloe vera gel, essential oils that are actually good for the skin and moisturise and hydrate the skin effectively.

Duration: Sanitizers are less time consuming since they act quickly on the hands to kill the pathogens.

Reduces Diseases: Being able to kill a wide range of germs, it prevents different types of gastrointestinal troubles and other infections due to bacteria and viruses.