I. can’t. stand. hand. gel.
It totally grosses me out. It’s gel-y, stick-y and I really don’t like the idea of adding chemicals to my hands to clean them.
So we eliminated hand gel from our house YEARS ago. Like, back when my daughter used to think it was a toy and smear it all over herself.
It’s been a no-no for the family ever since… which is why when I saw “hand cleaning gel” on my daughter’s school supply list, I nearly choked on my granola.
My stubbornness kicked in. I absolutely was NOT going to buy this stuff and send it with my daughter to school.
First, I can’t stand the stuff, remember? What’s wrong with natural soap and water?
Second, I don’t trust my daughter with the stuff for one iota of a moment. I know how she works. She’ll gladly use it at the tiniest suggestion from her teacher.
Clean up after recess? Before lunch? After lunch? To get the marker off her hands (that she “accidentally” drew on herself)?
She’ll be on it like white on rice.
And my crunchy self will want to throw a fit. All the the hard work I’ve put into NOT having hand gels in the house and FINALLY getting my daughter to stop asking for it? Down the tubes.
But I promise – I’m not going down without a fight!
The purpose of hand gel is essentially to clean when soap and water are not available. It’s faster and easier in classroom environment, and since not all families teach their kids to wash their hands regularly (or properly), I totally understand why her teacher wanted her to have some.
At the same time, I’m very much so NOT on board with triclosan.
Never heard of triclosan? It’s one of the most common ingredients found in products labeled “anti-bacterial,” including hand gels (which are just one of many potentially contaminated items – get the full list of products to avoid here.)
Besides, the FDA has said so themselves that hand gels are not any more effective than soap and water. So what’s the point of using it?
Can you tell this issue is a soap box for me? Grrr…
Here’s the thing. I can control what goes on in my home. I have declared it a hand gel free environment, choosing quality goat milk soap, water and lots of scrubbing action instead.
But I cannot control what goes on at school. While I don’t have to like it, I understand the circumstances surrounding the need for hand gel in a classroom full of first graders who pick their nose and eat glue.
But I won’t buy it. I’m making my own instead with 100% natural ingredients. That way it’s effective AND doesn’t have triclosan.
And my daughter doesn’t come home with cooties!
There are several options for making an all-natural homemade hand gel. This tutorial will make two kinds you’re used to seeing at stores: gel and spray. If you’re looking for a super super (aka FREE) option, scroll down to the bottom!
DIY All-Natural Homemade Hand Gel
DIY Homemade Hand Gel: Supplies
- 2 drops tea tree essential oil**
- 3 drops essential oils** with purifying properties (lavender, thyme, peppermint, clove, cinnamon, rosemary, eucalyptus OR Thieves blend)
- 1 Tbsp liquid (water OR witch hazel OR rubbing alcohol OR vodka)
- 3 Tbsp aloe vera gel
- 1 tsp vitamin E oil (a soothing, nourishing oil that acts as a preservative)
- squeezable tube or glass jar for storage (or re-purpose a suitable container)
**Note: I know there are a lot of essential oil companies out there and I’ve certainly tried my fair share of brands. But after testing and researching and more testing, only one is worth spending money on (in my opinion). For a couple years now I’ve been committed to Young Living oils, and you can read more about their oils and my decision HERE.
DIY Homemade Hand Gel: Method
Combine ingredients in a small bowl. Pour into the container of choice and use as needed!
Additional Recipe Notes
It is important to supervise children when using hand gel, whether homemade or store-bought. While the ingredients are natural, they can be harmful to children if ingested. YOU squirt into their hands and watch them rub it in. Don’t let them squirt (they’ll likely use too much) and don’t send them away until they’re done rubbing!
Vodka and Vitamin E oil are natural preservatives. The shelf life of homemade hand gel will be several months if you use both. If you omit both, you’ve got about a month or so.
Some purifying essential oils (like cinnamon especially) can be irritating to sensitive skin. Use less essential oil, or add more of another essential oil that soothes (like chamomile).
Straight up, homemade hand gel is NOT more affordable than store-bought. But it doesn’t have icky stuff… so you kinda have to pick and choose what’s more important to you.
If you’re paying off debt or for whatever reason cannot afford the ingredients for the recipe above, consider using vinegar! Vinegar is non-toxic, edible and kills 99% of bacteria. Just keep some in a small spray bottle, spray on the hands and rub together. Shake or wipe dry and you’re good to go.