I am not a big fan of using hand sanitizers on a regular basis. But, a hand sanitizer comes in very handy when traveling. I can’t tell you how often I have been in a bathroom without hand soap, a gas station toilet that is disgusting or even had to use a portable toilet.
There are also times visiting a public tourist attraction or jumping on and off a tour bus that I want to make sure my hands are clean. Travel is when a hand sanitizer can be necessary and definitely comes in handy. Sometimes it’s also essential to travel with a hand sanitizer, sanitizer wipes and wash your hands often.
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Homemade Hand Sanitizer for Travel Made With Essential Oils
I learned about spray hand sanitizers made with essential oils on a recent trip to Ukraine. I was traveling with a group of travel writers and bloggers and one of the bloggers had lavender spray hand sanitizer.
Not only did it smell great, but it came in super handy for the many times we visited bathrooms that didn’t have soap or towels. By the end of the trip, we were lining up to get a few sprays of her lavender hand sanitizer after a not-so-great bathroom stop or after visiting a location with lots of handrails. On past trips, I have brought along sanitizer wipes, but I loved the natural spray version much more.
How to Make Hand Sanitizer Spray
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I did a little research when I got home and realized it’s pretty simple to make a natural homemade hand sanitizer. It’s also much more cost-effective than buying it pre-made. The homemade DIY hand sanitizer recipe I created includes ingredients that are known to be antibacterial, antiviral, and anti-fungal and is also good for your skin!
The tea tree oil kills off bacteria while the aloe vera and the vitamin E nourish the skin, keeping it hydrated and clean and the lavender and lemongrass make it smell wonderful! It’s simple to create this homemade hand sanitizer for travel with just a few ingredients.
About the Hand Sanitizer Ingredients
Lavender– known for their antibacterial and antiviral and it smells awesome!
Tea Tree Oil – known to be antifugal, antimicrobial, antiseptic, antiviral, and antibacterial
Lemongrass Oil – known to be antibacterial and antifungal
Aloe vera gel – known to be antibacterial and antifungal and it does double duty as a moisturizer
Vitamin E – Moisturizer and helps keep recipe fresh
What You Will Need to Make Hand Sanitizer:
(This recipe makes enough for two 2-ounce bottles. I use Edens Garden essential oils to make my hand sanitizer).
- 2 oz glass spray bottle (you can find them on Amazon). I like the trigger spray bottle for the hand sanitizer.
- 10 drops Lavender oil (I use Edens Garden)
- 6 drops Lemongrass oil (I use Edens Garden)
- 25 drops of Tea Tree oil (I use Edens Garden)
- 1 ounce (6 teaspoons) Aloe Vera gel (I bought mine at Trader Joes, but you can also find this on Amazon)
- 2 ounces (12 teaspoons) grain or Isopropyl alcohol* or you can use witch hazel
- 1 tsp Vitamin E oil (I bought mine at Trader Joes, but you can also find this on Amazon)
Note: The CDC recommends using hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol content. Any homemade recipe should be 2/3 alcohol to 1/3 aloe, or 2:1. The above recipe made with the grain alcohol makes a sanitizer with just over 60%. If you want a sanitizer with a higher alcohol percentage, then increase alcohol and decrease the amount of aloe vera or make sure to use at least 95% grain alcohol.
Tip: You are allowed to bring containers that are 3.4 ounces (100 milliliters) or smaller in your carry on bag.
Directions to Make DIY Hand Sanitizer:
- Add essential oils and vitamin E oil to a small glass bowl or container and swirl to mix.
- Add witch hazel (or alcohol) to the oils and swirl again.
- Combine this mixture with the aloe vera gel and mix well.
Transfer hand sanitizer to small, clean spray bottles. (Use colored bottles like this so the essential oils in the recipe are not exposed to light). The sanitizer spray is perfect for traveling. Just throw into a purse or a backpack! Shake gently before each use.
You could also mix up a batch for home and keep in a container with a pump.
(Sanitizer should last several months with the addition of vitamin E and alcohol, which helps to preserve.)
Directions to Use Hand Sanitizer
Spray enough sanitizer to cover your hands (2-3 sprays), rub it in thoroughly and do not wipe it off before it has dried. Use as needed to naturally remove germs from hands.
How the Hand Sanitizer Feels
Considering the ingredients include vitamin e and three essential oils, you might be surprised that your hands will not feel oily. In fact, your hands will feel clean and soft when the spray dries.
Tip for using essential oils: Essential oils are potent plant extracts and people do experience allergic reactions to them. If you are unsure about using any of the above oils, mix a few drops with a tablespoon of grapeseed oil or olive oil and rub right below the crook of your elbow. Cover and let it sit for 24 hours to make sure you’re good to go.
Hint: If you only use the spray when traveling, do not store the plastic trigger spray in the bottle. This will reduce the time plastic is exposed to oil.
I hope this homemade hand sanitizer for travel recipe is helpful! I’d love to hear if you made it, so please let me know in the comments below!
If you prefer a thicker hand sanitizer, I’ve also created a post for homemade hand sanitizer gel. Find the recipe for the sanitizer gel here.
Additional Travel Items for Health Safety
- A Face Mask is still required for some types of travel. While most restaurants, museums and other stores have given the option to most people, some do require a face mask to enter.
- Sanitizing Wipes are great for wiping down your airline seat & tray and any other items in a public area.
- Portable Travel Cup to use instead of hotel glasses that may or may not be cleaned properly. (Read full article about >> Why You Should Never Drink Out of Glasses in Hotel Rooms)
- Water bottle with filter such as the Grayl that removes 99.9999% of viruses; 99.9999% of disease-causing bacteria (e.g. E. coli, Salmonella, Cholera); and 99.999% of protozoan cysts (e.g. Giardia, Cryptosporidium) is a great way to stay hydrated and healthy.
- Immune Boosters such as Lypo-Spheric Vitamin C which is – designed to help your body absorb more vitamin C. It helps to help maintain a healthy immune system come in single packets and take up very little space when packing.
If you are getting ready to book a trip, it’s always good advice to also get travel insurance. You can imagine how useful having insurance would be if you want to cancel or postpone a trip that was already booked.
For anyone who travels often, we highly recommend an annual travel insurance policy which is less expensive than you might imagine. Some are priced as low as $229 per person annually. This is important in case you want to cancel, plus it gives you peace of mind. I recommend World Nomads Travel Insurance.
If you are concerned about an upcoming trip, don’t buy into all the hype and misinformation that is currently circulating on social media. Instead, stay informed through reliable sources and when in doubt, contact your travel agent, cruise line or airline for updates. Of course, also speak with your personal physician regarding the real facts of the virus and how to stay healthy when traveling.
Related Articles: 7 Tips to Stay Healthy When Traveling
The most important thing you can do to stay healthy is to wash your hands frequently. Wash hands for at least 20 seconds. Wash hands before you use the restroom and after, when you come home, before you eat, and other times that you are touching surfaces.
Don’t touch your eyes, nose or mouth as viruses can enter your body in this manner.
If traveling, wipe down surfaces including an airline or train seat & tray, any other items in public areas such as handrails with a sanitizer wipe and then use hand sanitizer. As mentioned above, wash your hands as frequently as possible if you are in public places and spaces.
Simply avoid other people if you feel unwell and stay clear of anyone with flu-like symptoms.
Disclaimer: Always check with a doctor or health care provider before using essential oils, especially on children or if you have a medical condition. Hand sanitizer is a precaution and isn’t a solution to contracting any virus or disease.
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Alexa Meisler is the editorial director of 52 Perfect Days. Born in Paris, France she has since lived in Chicago, San Francisco, Los Angeles and Portland, Oregon. She currently resides in San Diego with her husband and son where they enjoy exploring California and Mexico.
Travel has always been a part of her life; traveling to such places as Morocco, Tangiers and Spain as a young child as well as taking many road trips to Mexico with her grandparents as a young girl. Since then, she has traveled abroad to locations such as Russia, Taiwan and throughout Europe.
Prior to working at 52 Perfect Days she was a freelance travel writer; focusing on family and women’s adventure experiences.