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Michele Promaulayko smiles and leans against a window with the NYC skyline in the back.

Michele Promaulayko

Updated: 12/07/2022

In a pinch, these DIY formulations can step in for the store-bought stuff (and they smell better too).

During a pandemic, fear and reactiveness spread as quickly as illness. One of the first bits of news to break on coronavirus is that alcohol-based hand sanitizer effectively kills the droplets responsible for passing the virus from person to person, spurring the nation to strip Amazon and local store shelves of every last bottle.

Fear not: Making your own hand sanitizer is fairly simple — and probably less expensive. (Prefer not to DIY? We carry three scents of moisturizing hand sanitizer, infused with essential oils. Stop by our space in New York to pick one up.)

Remember, the first line of defense is always to wash your hands with soap and water — follow these directions from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). (Yes, you’ve been doing it wrong your whole life — we all have.) But if you’re not near a sink, the next best thing is using alcohol-based hand sanitizer, provided it’s potent enough — it needs to be at least 60 percent alcohol, science says.

One word of caution: The CDC warns that “swallowing alcohol-based hand sanitizers can cause alcohol poisoning if more than a couple of mouthfuls are swallowed. Keep it out of reach of young children and supervise their use.”

Sanitizing Spray Recipe


  • 1 cup of 99% isopropyl alcohol (aka rubbing alcohol)
  • 1 tablespoon of 3% hydrogen peroxide
  • 1 teaspoon of 98% glycerin
  • ¼ cup, 1 tbsp and 1 tsp of sterile distilled or chilled boiled water
  • Optional: Add a few drops of an essential oil for fragrance and for some bonus bug-fighting power. Bio-alchemist Michelle Gagnon suggests lavender, lemon, bergamot or cinnamon, which have antibacterial properties. Or eucalyptus, tea tree or thyme for their added antiviral qualities.

*This formulation follows guidelines put out by The World Health Organization (WHO).


Combine all ingredients. Pour into a spray bottle like this one made of amber glass.

Sanitizing Gel Recipe


  • 2/3 cup of 99% isopropyl alcohol
  • 1/3 cup of aloe vera gel
  • Optional: A few drops of an essential oil


Put in a pump bottle for easy dispensing.

Caring For Your Hands

Copious washing and sanitizing strips the natural oils from your skin, leaving hands dry, cracked and “vulnerable to pathogens and infections, including fungal infections and impetigo,” says board-certified dermatologist Whitney Bowe, M.D., who suggests using gentle, milky soap — not antibacterial soap, which is no more effective — whenever possible, and hydrating right afterward with unscented moisturizer to help seal your skin’s barrier.

One more tip from Dr. Bowe: Remove rings when washing! Rings can trap surfactants from soap, leaving that area chapped. They can also harbor bacteria and fungi, increasing your risk for skin infections.

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