DIY alcohol-based hand rub at home

How to DIY an alcohol-based hand rub in Germany

The main recommendation to fight the new corona virus (COVID-19) is to wash hands with an alcohol-based hand rub and/or soap. However, alcohol-based hand rubs are not available anymore and soap is not that easy to find sometimes.

Besides a mother, I am also a pharmacist! On this post I am going to show to you how to DIY an alcohol based hand rub. Please follow all the safety instructions!

The WHO recommends the preparation of such hand rubs in a pharmacy or laboratory, mainly because of ensuring the quality of the final result but also because of the risk of inflammation, irritability when in contact with eyes and of course, because it may be not correctly used if children get access to it.

Even if, I am showing you how to do the WHO Alcohol-based Hand rub Formulation in my kitchen, because I believe that the risks are manageable by adults, the WHO does not promote the production of this alcohol-based hand rub at home.

Now let’s start, and I used:

1. Isopropylalcohol

Isopropylalcohol, also called 2- propanol or isopropanol, 99,9%. I order it from Amazon and I will leave the link for it in the references, unfortunately it was not available anymore in the pharmacy. The alcohol part of the product is responsible for the microbicidal activity with a minimal risk of generating resistance to antimicrobial agents. You can also use Ethanol 96%.

2. Hydrogen Peroxid

Hydrogen peroxide 3%. It is still available, I guess in every pharmacy in Germany and it is added in a low concentration to help eliminate contaminating spores in the the other reagents and recipients used. It is also important to state that hydrogen peroxide 3% is not an active substance for hand disinfection. 

3. Glycerol

Glycerol, or glycerin at 85%. The recommended glycerol is the 98% one, however, I couldn’t find it anymore, neither in a pharmacy or online. So I adjusted the quantities to be sure that I have the appropriate final glycerol concentration. However, glycerol will not act as a disinfectant in the alcohol based hand rub. Glycerol is added as a humectant for skin care, so lowering the percentage of glycerol may even be considered, if there is the need or wish to reduce stickiness of the hand rub. Other humectants or emollients may be used, but they should be mixable in water and alcohol, non-toxic, and hypoallergenic.

4. Water

And now the final reagent: which is water! I used purified water that I bought in the pharmacy here in Germany. But you can also use sterile water, distilled water or just boiled water, which is already cooled. Even if sterile and distilled water are preferred for making the alcohol based hand rub, boiled and cooled tap water may also be used as long as it is free of visible particles.

5. Materials and recipients

I also needed latex or kitchen gloves, protection glasses (I am using one of my biggest sunglasses) and a mask, the mask doesn’t have to be a ffp2 mask.
You will also need a scale, a syringe, a recipient to measure and one to pour the reagents. Also an instrument made of plastic, metal or wood to mix all the reagents. To store your alcohol based hand rub it is necessary bottle with a leak-proof top, with a spray option or a normal top that you can close.

For protection it is recommended to use a white coat, I have one but I believe that many of you don’t, as an option you can also use a big and old t-shirt or a cooking apron.

Also, if you have long hair like me, you will need something to do a ponytail. It is also not a bad idea to have some paper near you in case something is spilled and you can act fast.

In a laboratory you would have different instruments and I am using what I have at home, because the purpose of this video is for you to do your own alcohol-based hand rub with what you have at home. I am using a syringe for the small amounts, but maybe a syringe is not something you would have at home, but you can get it easily from the nearest pharmacy or order it online. I will leave a link for it on the references.


So now that you know everything that you need you can start:

  1. At first make sure that you are going to prepare the alcohol based hand rub in a well ventilated room, where you could easily open a window if necessary.
  2. Then put on the mask, glasses and gloves for your own protection.
  3. Since I am doing this specifically for mothers living in Germany, I would also make sure that your children are not near your preparation area. For unpredictable ages and if your children are somewhere inside your house, I would make sure that an adult has an eye on them.
  4. Clean the area where you are going to work and make sure that you have enough space to work. I cleaned it before putting all the materials and reagents on but I am cleaning again just in case.
  5. Place all reagents and materials that you will need. I am using the quantities needed for a final 200 ml alcohol based hand rub made with Isopropyl alcohol. You may adjust the volumes if you are planning to do more or to do less. If you are using Ethanol instead of Isopropyl alcohol the quantities are a little bit different. Check bellow to know exactly which quantities to use.
  6. Measure 150 ml of Isopropyl alcohol with a recipient and 0,3 ml with the syringe. I am pouring a little bit of Isopropyl alcohol to a small recipient to use the syringe, so I am sure that I do not contaminate the big bottle. After usage, close all recipients. And now I am pouring it to the main recipient.
  7. Measure 8,3 ml of the hydrogen peroxide with the syringe and pour it to the big recipient.
  8. Measure 3,3 ml of the glycerol with the syringe and pour it to the big recipient.
  9. I am using the scale to measure the 38 ml of water and getting 0,1 ml using the syringe.
  10. Now that you have all reagents together in one recipient you can mix them using for example a metal spoon. I actually used a metal knife because I have a thin container.
  11. Immediately pour the solution into its final containers (in my case a 200 ml plastic bottle), and place the bottles aside for 72 hours before use. This allows time for any spores present in the alcohol or the bottle to be destroyed.
  12. The WHO recommends to do a quality control test, to check the quantity of alcohol inside the final solution. But it is needed a special instrument for that. However, you can still do what we call in pharmacy an “organoleptic test”, and check if the final alcohol based hand rub is a clear, transparent and colorless solution.
  13. Label the bottle so you are sure what is inside, the date you prepared it and labeling might also reduce the risk of it to be wrongly used. You can write “Alcohol-based hand rub” and add the kind of alcohol (Isopropyl alcohol 75% (v/v) or Ethanol 80% (v/v)), the production date and maybe even the expiry date (2 years)
  14. In the end don’t forget to clean everything. Preferably with the gloves on.
  15. The ‘shelf life’ of these alcohol-based hand rub formulations, is at least 2 years. But remember to storage it properly: 1. It should be a room with a temperature between 15 and 25°C; 2. The kitchen is not the best place to store it because of the proximity with flames; 3. Keep out of the reach and sight of children.

Adding extra reagents

The WHO recommends not to add any extra ingredients or reagents than the ones they specify including gelling agents and perfumes or fragrances. Gelling agents have no data available concerning their suitability when combined with the other reagents and might compromise the alcohol based hand rub antimicrobial efficacy. And perfumes and fragrances may increase the risk of allergic reactions.

Check the WHO alcohol-based hand rub recommendations on the references of this post.

Check here the video

On this video You can see all the safety preparation and also how I did at home my alcohol–based hand rub. Again, follow all the safety instructions!

Quantities for the alcohol-based hand rub preparation

Isopropyl alcohol (the one I used in this video – 200 ml):
  • Isopropyl alcohol 99.8% – 150.3 ml
  • Hydrogen peroxide 3% – 8.3 ml
  • Glycerin 85% – 3.3 ml
  • Sterile distilled (Aqua purificata) or boiling cold water ± 38.1 ml
Ethanol (amounts for 10 L):
  • Ethanol 96% – 8333 ml
  • Hydrogen peroxide 3% – 417 ml
  • Glycerin 98% – 145 ml
  • Distilled distilled (“Aqua purificata”) or boiling cold water ± 1105 ml
Isopropyl alcohol (amounts for 10 L):
  • Isopropyl alcohol 99.8% – 7515 ml
  • Hydrogen peroxide 3% – 417 ml
  • Glycerin 98% – 145 ml
  • Sterile distilled (“Aqua purificata”) or boiling cold water ± 1923 ml


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