DIY Hand Sanitizing Spritzer

2020 has been a whole new world. In a lot of ways. The story of how I’ve gotten to where I am today began at the end of 2019 in December, before Coronavirus was upon us. In the midst of the winter I received a job offer in Texas, requiring me to move across the country during the beginning weeks of a pandemic.  Consequently, I developed an awesome hand sanitizing spritzer to accompany me on my pandemic relocation adventure.

Empty purple spray bottle, essential oils, 50 and 70% isopropyl alcohol and micellar cleansing water.

Before the Pandemic

How I accomplished this move was highly dependent upon my background in Public Health and my extreme germaphobia. The week before the country began shutting down, I left my federal government job early for a “telework” exercise. I would never return to that building or position again. I had just announced my resignation and had to cancel my going away lunch with colleagues because of the telework trial.

On my way home from work, I stopped at Big Lots for a few items for my move. At the checkout counter, a woman asked the clerk “have you heard yet about the lock down?”

At the time, it was hard to imagine that could happen. The woman had 6 bottles of bleach, a cart full of groceries, and about $1K in cash in her purse. I was scared. and just gave away all my non-perishable food. I still had most of my cleaning products in my house so I could clean before I moved. All my belongings were packed in a PODS container being shipped across the country.

I had nothing that would make me feel secure about a looming pandemic. I didn’t know that Montgomery County, Maryland had already had Coronavirus spreading in the community for weeks. Long before I stepped foot in Big Lots behind Ms. Emergency Bleach and Cash. 

Hand sanitizer, cleaning supplies, and rubbing alcohol were gone from shelves. I had a week and a half before I was set to leave on a 2-day drive to Texas. 

Traveling Responsibly 

On the road, the biggest problem is all the stuff you have to touch. Gloves are pointless, it’s too hard to get them on and off without contaminating surfaces or your skin. In March, research on how long the virus lives on surfaces or in the air was not available. There was no telling how widespread the virus was in the other cities I was scheduled to stop in- Chattanooga, Tennessee and New Orleans, Louisiana. 

My inner germaphobe took over. I began concocting ways to ensure I stayed safe while traveling with as much food and cleaning items in my car as possible. With limited hand sanitizer available, the first thing I thought of was how to wash my hands on the road. Especially without having to go inside anywhere to touch doors, surfaces, and yucky gas station bathrooms. 

I’m an experienced traveler so I knew exactly what my issues would be- the times I needed to stop for food and gas, anything I needed to purchase on the road, and my Airbnb. The Airbnb was already booked and I trusted that it would be cleaned before I arrived. Still, I knew I needed to have some sort of way to sanitize things on the road without access to bleach, soap, and water.

DIY Mode Takes Over

Locating hand sanitizer at the beginning of the pandemic (and since) has been rough. I began researching DIY hand sanitizer recipes. I quickly realized I was late to that party, all the rubbing alcohol and aloe vera gel was sold out. As I circled around CVS then eventually Big Lots, I started thinking about what I could do to resolve this hand washing on the road problem. 

Ingredients for the recipe on a kitchen counter. 1 Spray bottle
¾ cup Micellar Water
¼ cup Witch Hazel
10 drops tea tree oil
5 drops eucalyptus oil 
2 drops lavender oil
¼ cup 70% Rubbing Alcohol
Combine ingredients around the house to save money.

I did have enough hand sanitizer to get me to Texas (I found an emergency supply in my camping box). So sanitizing my hands would be possible. But the yucky film that often comes with touching surfaces was my top concern. How could I get that off without washing my hands inside a yucky bathroom? 

To resolve these issues, I decided to make my own spray hand sanitizing spritzer. I developed my DIY hand sanitizing spritzer so that it was safe to be used on packaging, hands, my leather steering wheel, my car door handle, and anything else that I needed to quickly spray clean and wipe. However, due to the essential oils included, I knew the only thing I shouldn’t spray it on is my dog. 

I found all the ingredients for my DIY hand sanitizing spritzer in my bathroom cupboard with a few items from Big Lots and CVS. I decided to create a recipe that would take minimal ingredients, be primarily alcohol based, and ensure my supply of 70 proof rubbing alcohol would go further than by itself. This way, if supplies are difficult to find, I know that several batches can be made from each batch.

Admittedly, diluting the alcohol means that this spray would not meet CDC’s recommended 60% alcohol for hand sanitizer. However, the purpose for this spritzer is to use pre-hand sanitizer with a tissue to wipe it off mimicking washing my hands. Combining this spritzer with gel hand sanitizer (60% alcohol or more) resolved my problem about needing to wash my hands on the road without having to use a public restroom.  

DIY hand spritzer can keep your hands gunk-free on the go.

Try This Hand Sanitizing Spritzer- Keep it Nearby

So here is the hand sanitizing spritzer recipe I came up with in Mid-March and it’s been a lifesaver whenever I feel like I need to wash my hands and there’s no sink in sight. 

I use this DIY hand sanitizing spritzer before I load my grocery bags in my car. As a second step, I wash the items in soap and water before I put them away. I also remove the packaging and wash my hands thoroughly every time I come home from shopping. 

Now I won’t attribute my not getting Coronavirus (yet) to this hand spritzer or any of my other germaphobe routines that now rule my life. I will, however, offer it to you as a way you can make your bathroom cabinet work for you while still preserving your precious stock of rubbing alcohol. 

About the Ingredients

Essential oils have natural antifungal and antibacterial properties. Both tea tree and eucalyptus oil have antiviral properties while lavender oil brings a beautiful scent and adds the antibacterial properties to the mix. 

Micellar Water is located in the cosmetic section of your local drugstore near the makeup removers and face lotion. Micellar water helps to remove makeup, tone, or refresh your face. I used Micellar water because of its common use to cleanse the face meaning it is very gentle on the skin. With so much alcohol included in the recipe, I wanted to make sure the recipe was gentle enough for sensitive skin and would act as a carrier for the essential oils. You can read all about how Micellar water cleanses here. For “water”, Micellar water can appear expensive at a cost of $10-$20 per bottle. The good thing is you can use it for this recipe and use the remainder for your skin care routine. 

You can mix all the ingredients together in a medium-sized spray bottle or bowl and transfer to small spray bottles. 

Cost per Bottle

I mixed two batches of the hand sanitizer recipe and put it into two spray bottles from Big Lots. With all the ingredients that I had in my bathroom and the purchases I made at CVS and Big Lots, both bottles of spritzer cost me $20 total. I had enough leftovers to make two more bottles, making the per bottle cost approximately $5 per 16 oz. bottle.  

Two caveats: 

1) I already had a few essential oils in my cabinet. Essential oils are an investment. Once you make the investment, you find novel ways to use them for handy things.  I bought a new tea tree oil because I use it so much, although, I had enough for this recipe in my old bottle. The new tea tree cost about $10 at CVS. Without this added expense my price per bottle was lower than anticipated and each bottle has lasted longer than anticipated.

Smaller image focused on essential oil bottles. Lavender, tea tree, and eucalyptus oils are used in this recipe.

2) The spray bottles were way bigger than expected so I didn’t fill them completely. I filled them about ¾ of the way since I wasn’t sure how reliable they were and I keep one in the door of my car that falls out regularly. Luckily it is still intact and I’ve been using it for about 6 months.

Share Pics of Your Hand DIY Sanitizing Spritzer! 

Enjoy the recipe, make your own version, and let me know how it works for you! I’ve found so many uses for this spritzer that I will continue to make it and continue to keep it at home and in my car well after the COVID-19 pandemic is over.

Share a picture of your recipe and final product in use on Instagram by tagging @livingthewellnessgrind in your photo!