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CASA GRANDE — Anyone who has been to a store lately knows that hand sanitizer, rubbing alcohol and antibacterial soaps are just as hard to find as toilet paper.

Fear of coronavirus and a potential weeks-long self quarantine to ride out the outbreak has many local residents stocking up on things they think they'll need and hand sanitizer seems to be at the top of the list.

As hand sanitizer has grown scarce, videos and recipes for homemade concoctions now abound on the internet and some are resorting to making it.

But hand sanitizers, whether store bought or homemade, are not a replacement for hand washing. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends washing hands with soap and water frequently as the best way to reduce the amount of germs on the hands.

Hand sanitizer with at least a 60% alcohol content can reduce the number of germs clinging to hands, but they do not eliminate the germs, the health organization said.

But when soap and water are not available, hand sanitizers can help give the hands a fresh, clean feeling. 

Most homemade hand sanitizers contain three simple ingredients — aloe gel, rubbing alcohol (with an alcohol content of at least 60%) and a few drops of essential oil to make the blend smell a little bit better.

On a recent visit to three local grocery stores, I couldn't find rubbing alcohol or aloe gel on the shelves as people seem to be snatching up the basic ingredients for homemade hand sanitizer as well as the commercially prepared blends.

Fortunately, like many people, I had a few bottles of rubbing alcohol hiding deep inside a bathroom cabinet and I also have three large aloe plants, so I spent an afternoon whisking together a few batches of homemade hand sanitizer.

While the aloe from the aloe plant doesn't set like commercially-prepared hand sanitizer gel, it does create a nice, soothing hand spray that dries quickly, feels good on the hands and can serve in place of a store-bought product.

Because rubbing alcohol has become scarce, I also created a hand spray using simply witch hazel and lemon. The solution might not protect against coronavirus, but the acid in lemon juice is effective in killing some mold, bacteria and other germs. Both lemon and witch hazel have astringent qualities that have long been used as acne solutions or as facial toners. Most importantly, this solution feels soothing when sprayed on the hands.

Below are three recipes for making hand sprays that can help keep hands feeling clean and fresh.

Recipe 1: Aloe-based hand sanitizer

1 cup aloe (from inside an aloe plant)

1 cup rubbing alcohol, with a 60 - 90% alochol content

lemon zest for scent

a few drops of essential oil, for scent

Using a spoon, scrape the aloe gel from inside the a few aloe plant leaves. For about two cups of spray, I used one cup of aloe, which was acquired by cutting three long leaves from one of my large outdoor plants. Combine all ingredients in a bowl and whisk to combine well or blend in a blender.

Pour into spray bottle and use as a hand sanitizing spritz.

Recipe 2: Rosemary scented witch hazel spritz

This recipe is good is good because it combines the soothing, astringent qualities of witch hazel with the germ-fighting capabilities of the alcohol and lemon. The rosemary and lemon help it smell good.

Combine equal parks witch hazel, lemon juice and rubbing alcohol in a jar with a sprig of rosemary. Shake well. Pour into a spray bottle and use as a hand sanitizing spritz.

Recipe 3: Witch hazel and lemon juice

This combination might not have the germ-fighting capabilities of a solution with alcohol, but it feels good when sprayed on the hands will help them feel refreshed. 

Combine equal parts lemon juice and witch hazel and stir well. Purified water can also be added to the mixture for those who want a more diluted version. Pour into a spray bottle.


Melissa St. Aude is the Arts & Entertainment editor at PinalCentral. She can be reached at