DIY Hand sanitiser/deodorant/spill-cleaner-upper

In my opinion, the 'kills 99.9% of germs' thing is really getting out of control. Advertisers would have us spraying every surface in our houses and disinfecting our hands after touching anything in the public domain. Good mums sanitize. Bad mums let kids eat dirt, or touch the sides of escalators, or pick up food they've dropped on the floor of the Manly Ferry and eat it (uh ... not that I've ever done that ... ). Because kids are particularly 'at risk' of contamination by all the horrific germs out there.

Or are they?

Scientists know that the process of killing some (even most) bacteria on your benchtop/toilet seat/hands means that the bacteria left over are the tough ones.
The ones that can withstand the chemical onslaught and will likely produce baby bacteria (so to speak) that are also good at resisting. (It's called evolution ... and you can read more about it here.) This is why doctors advise you not to stop your course of antibiotics early, even if you feel better. Because you want to knock all those bacteria, not just the wimpy ones.

I'm not saying we shouldn't clean our selves and our homes properly, or take antibiotics when we really need them. What I am saying is - there are other better ways to do so.
eucalyptus oil. tea tree oil. lemon juice. bicarb soda. white vinegar. grain alcohol. soap and water.
Stuff you know by sight and smell, and which reside in your pantry. As opposed to these little goodies:
propylene glycol. aminomethyl propanol. fragrance. triclosan. benzalkonium chloride. methyl/ethyl/butyl/propylparaben. sodium laurel sulfate.

Personally, I don't really want my daughter washing or sanitising her hands with questionable chemicals, because we all know that little hands go into mouths a lot. Fair enough if I want to disinfect hands when I can't get to a sink ... but can I do it non-toxically?

Last time we travelled, I found a great santiser spray by Dr Bronners. (We love his stuff. As does my friend Linda, by the way). Ingredients? Alcohol, water, glycerin and lavender essential oil. It smells amazing, and - even better - it works as a deodorant and as a cleaner-upper of spills (for example, when you knock your coffee over at your desk ... ). Now, of course I don't want my child drinking the stuff, but I feel good about spritzing it on her hands.

Now, we're about to hit the road - er - sky again, and I'm out of my magic spray. So ... it's DIY time. You can read more about hand sanitisers (if you want) here ... but overall, it seems the alcohol-based ones are better, chemically-speaking.

And alcohol? That's something I may just have on-hand ...

DIY Hand Sanitiser Spray
makes 1/2 cup

The time
5 min

The ingredients
1/4 cup vodka *or you can try 1/2 cup vodka to increase the disinfecting power
1/4 cup water
20 drops lavender essential oil*
20 drops tea tree oil (optional)
2 x 2 fl oz (59mL) spray bottles**

*feel free to use another essential oil you prefer ... or a lesser amount of lavender. I like the potent lavender smell this quantity produces, and lavender itself has antibacterial properties, too ... (as does the tea tree oil)

**and you can of course use a different-sized bottle. This is just my standard carry-around size.

The process
1. Mix everything together and pour into your spray bottle.

NOTE: If you're pregnant or have sensitivities then please talk to your doctor first, ok? Also, don't let your child drink this ... it is alcohol, after all!

The cost
Around $1. Plus, it'll last you ages.

So, lots to think about, right? Might be worth pondering over a vodka cocktail?
Amanda xx


  1. Hey Amanda! I absolutely adore your blog! I'm studying medicine, and we learned that vodka doesn't actually disinfect. The sugar in it will actually make bacteria grow better!


  2. Hi Kelly - thanks for leaving the comment! I'm going to do a bit more research into vodka (and no - not that way ;) ) and see what I come up with!

  3. I've never heard of Dr. Bonner's products, I clicked on your link and it's quite a list of organic products. Going to look to see if I can find his hand sanitizer or similar locally. Thanks for posting your recipe for HS and look forward to seeing what your further research comes up with as I'd like to make some.

  4. I'll keep my fingers crossed about the vodka as I'd prefer to use something like that rather than one with lots of yukky chemicals. And thanks for the mention, lovely. Isn't Dr Bronners the best?? x

  5. I take this as an implicit endorsement of the 5 second rule, by the way.

    Man, I'm tired after typing that sentence above. Can I have my cocktail now?

  6. Well I think this article sums it up ... more research needed. Natural methods can be nearly as effective in killing germies, but they might take a little longer to do so.

    Back to my research ... in the meantime, I'm amending this recipe to include tea tree oil - which is a great disinfectant.

  7. I may also try it as 100% vodka + essential oils ... vodka itself is ethyl alcohol and water, already diluted to 50% or so.

    But it's surprisingly hard to find good quality information on this topic out there!

  8. Hmmm, good thoughts! I'm glad you're going to Colombia, it's great to be in a place that is so newly safe for Americans to see! I like blazing new trails like that. Definitely, definitely see the cloud forest from the post you commented on. It was the highlight of the trip for us.

  9. First time reader of your site. Have you thought about using rubbing alcohol in your recipe? :)

  10. I live your recipes for organic beauty products. Have you been able to take them on a plane in your carry on luggage or in your checked bags with all the tsa rules? Do you label them? Have you had any problems with traveling with any homemade beauty products?? Any travel advice for carrying organic products and what is the best for storage containers? Thanks!


    1. Hi A, I haven't had any issues with my stuff in carry ons ... but I do put them into smaller containers. Nope, don't label them even! The best storage containers depends on what the product is ... but best to go lightweight and unbreakable. Stainless steel? I use little tins for a lot of my moisture-type products. Small glass jars with screwtop lids are good, too, but you have to be more careful :)

      And sorry for the delay in responding! For some reason these last few comments didn't come up on my radar, and I just noticed them!

  11. I so want to try this! Maybe not with vodka, I'm gonna buy disinfecting alcohol at pharmacy...

    Wait... sugar in vodka? I didn't know that... if it only encourages bacteria to grow then why those strong alcoholic beverages have indefinite shelf life?

    1. That's a good question. What's preserving it...

  13. Hey all, I just noticed {ON THE WEB OF COURSE} that Everclear is ~95% alcohol by volume. I reckon that would make a pretty clean santizer ...

    Not sure if you can get it here in Oz, though. Moonshine, anyone?

  14. hi there just started working organic friendly home daycare for young 2 year olds and couple infants. It is already very clean and very super laid back loving place for kids and families alike. I am organic type myself and offered to find another solution to cleaning up surfaces and toys mainly by looking online for a budget-friendly organic sanitary option for the kids and staff. I was thinking along the lines of something that could be sprayed from a spray bottle and prepared daily or in bulk in a lager container stored else where. Due to their cultural beliefs can not use any alcohol substitutes such as your cool vodka sanitizer above! If you can get back to me with mild fragrance type mixture I would be more than thrilled to try it out! Thanks a bunch, Jacquie Lauria 71-777-2626


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Thanks for commenting! Amandaxx