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Effective and Easy Homemade Hand Sanitizer for Travel (with Recipe)

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. That is why I created this DIY recipe for homemade hand sanitizer that smells great!

There are also times visiting a public tourist attraction or jumping on and off a tour bus when I want to make sure my hands are clean. Travel is when a hand sanitizer can be necessary and definitely comes in handy. It today’s world it’s essential to travel with a hand sanitizer, sanitizer wipes and wash your hands often.

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Homemade Hand Sanitizer for Travel

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

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:

Homemade Hand Sanitizer for Travel

(This recipe makes enough for two 2-ounce bottles. I use Edens Garden essential oils to make my hand sanitizer).

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:

  1. Add essential oils and vitamin E oil to a small glass bowl or container and swirl to mix.
  2. Add witch hazel (or alcohol) to the oils and swirl again.
  3. 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.

Travel Insurance

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 


wash hands

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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    1. It doesn’t feel oily. Once you spray it on and then rub your hands together and it dries, your hands don’t feel oily at all. In fact, they feel really soft and clean.

      1. Something to think about?.. Why would they tell the public not to buy mask because they don’t work, then say “public buying is taking away from the health professionals” if they don’t work why is it so important to broadcast that buying masks is taking away from the healthcare professionals, if they don’t work why say get N95 masks ?. Turns out that the manufacturers are backlogged until May?. If worn properly mask help, better to have some protection rather than no protection. Just remember that the medical pros are wearing masks.

    2. I was thinking about making this, it says the recipe makes a 2oz. Then gives the recipe which calls for over 3oz of liquid, so how does that fit into a 2 oz bottle?

      1. Thanks for catching that typo! So, in fact, this recipe makes enough for two 2 oz. bottles.

  1. I never thought about the spray pump sitting in the oil too long, great tip on removing it. This looks like a good solution for an easy to use hand sanitizer for traveling.

  2. This is a must needed product! especially when I go for a hike with other globetrotters we badly need some good sanitizer on our way back! but now I know what to take with me next time! I would surely try grab one of these! Thanks for sharing!
    – Travel Dejavu

  3. Mask will NOT protect you from the virus, any virus. They will only protect you somewhat,if the person wearing one has the virus.

    1. Hi Mary, thank you for sharing this. I’ll do some more research on masks. I think there is a type of mask that Gwyneth Paltrow is using that is supposed to protect against the virus. Best, Alexa

  4. Is there a way to make this into a gel instead of a spray? Would I just use more of the aloe?

    1. Hi April, Good idea! I haven’t made it into a gel, but I think that would work if you added more aloe. I’d get a pump dispenser or a bottle with a flip lid to it’s easy to squeeze it out.

  5. It is not essential to travel with a face mask, in fact you shouldn’t wear one unless you’re already sick. Supplies are running out because people think a face mask will help.

  6. People buying up face masks that are not effective for the general public are putting myself and my fellow healthcare workers in harms way because of the shortage of masks. It’s a waste of money for the general public and keeps us providers from providing effective care for people should they get the virus

  7. 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. Doing this (yours does with the grain alcohol) makes a sanitizer that slightly exceeds that alcohol content at 60.66%, so follow the proportions exactly. If you want a sanitizer with a higher alcohol percentage, then decrease the amount of aloe vera. FYI, I used the 91% isopropyl alcohol I had at home, instead of grain alcohol. https://www.cdc.gov/handwashing/when-how-handwashing.html

  8. I can’t thank you enough for posting this recipe!! It’s great. It smells amazing and hasn’t dried out my skin, which is always an issue for me with commercial hand sanitizers. I regularly use hand sanitizer anyway, due to my job, and now it has become hard to find and insanely overpriced due to concerns over the corona virus. I’m going to give a spray bottle of this recipe to all my friends and family. Thanks again! 🙂

    1. I’m so happy to hear you like it (and that you are sharing it with friends and family)!

  9. This recipe will give an final alcohol concentration just over 60% ONLY IF the alcohol used is over 97%.That is not something readily available at most stores.

    Total volume if measured perfectly would be about 95.7mL. 2 ounces of alcohol is 59.147mL. Assuming 95% grain alcohol is used that means 56.189mL alcohol and 2.985mL water. 56.189mL divided by the total of 95.7mL gives a final concentration of only 58.713%.

    Starting with a more dilute (more common) alcohol will obviously give an even weaker final product. Please be very careful with your math and measurements if you want to rely on homemade sanitizer!

    1. I agree and thank you for doing the math here and making is absolutely clear!

  10. Very simple and straight forward. I enjoy reading this guide

  11. I used isopropyl alcohol. It did not work? The gel/oils just stuck together and would not mix with the alcohol?

    1. I haven’t tried it with isopropyl. When I made it I used Vodka and it didn’t stick together.

  12. I mixed just the oils to see how it would smell and all I could smell was the tea tree oil. Do the other ingredients tone down that smell at all? (I don’t have them or I’d mix up a batch to see).

    Could I increase the lemongrass to help the smell?

    1. Hi Erin, the other ingredients tone down the tea tree scent. I don’t see any reason you can’t add more lemongrass or lavender. Also, the smell doesn’t linger for long.

  13. Using vodka won’t work, as most vodka is 80 proof which is only 40% alcohol by volume. You need to use 605 rubbing alcohol or higher to meet CDC guidelines.

  14. Thanks for sharing the recipe, it’s very useful on a crazy time like this. We could not find any hand sanitizer at the store but I’m a essential oil user so I had all the ingredients at hand.

  15. I’m lucky to have plenty of hand sanitizer right now, but this recipe would also be great to travel with as well. I enjoy the smell of tea tree oil so I bet it smells amazing! Am definitely going to try it.

  16. This is a lot like the all-purpose cleaning spray I make with 3% hydrogen peroxide. And, according to several reliable healthcare sites, peroxide is as effective as bleach (and much less harsh) when it comes to battling the Coronavirus.

  17. Great post- one important correction.
    We need to use a mask (there are great versions of self-made, washable ones available) now- not to keep the aerosols from reaching us- but to protect others from our possible infectiveness. It turns out that if we have the coronavirus, our expelled breath contains the virus, too. Not just if we cough or sneeze.

  18. Omg so love this! I have all the essential oils. Missing Vitamin E & Aloe Vera & literally went to trader joes earlier LOL! Will get it this week!

  19. Awesome. I was not aware of this. I’m going to try this myself. Sounds amazing & Very easy and definitely its smells. I can’t wait. Thanks!

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