Hand sanitizers have become a staple product that we use repeatedly, every single day.
They’re great for keeping us safe by killing germs, bacteria, and fungi, but they are often not so great for our overall health or the health of the planet!
Luckily, many great options are made with human health and the environment in mind. They’re safe, eco-friendly, and do not contain any harmful, toxic chemicals.
So, how do you find the best natural hand sanitizer? What should you look for and what should you avoid?
In this guide, we’re covering some of the problems with conventional sanitizers, why natural hand sanitizers are better, and what to look for when you’re buying an organic or natural sanitizer.
We then review some of the best organic and natural hand sanitizers, made by sustainable, ethical, and socially responsible brands.
Lastly, we learn how to make your own natural hand sanitizer with safe ingredients and organic essential oils.
Let’s dive right in!
The Best Natural Hand Sanitizers
Here is our list of the best organic and/or natural hand sanitizers:
- Plaine Products Natural Peppermint Hand Sanitizer
- Naked Bee Orange Blossom Honey Hand Sanitizer
- Package Free Zero-Waste Hand Sanitizer
- EO Essential Oils Organic Lavender Hand Sanitizer
- Puracy Citrus and Sea Salt Gel Hand Sanitizer
- Bronner’s Organic Lavender Hand Sanitizer
These are all great options for your hands and the environment!
We’ll dig into why these brands are so good a little further on, but first, let’s look at why it’s important to use natural hand sanitizers:
Why is Natural Hand Sanitizer Better?
Natural hand sanitizers are better for us and better for the environment. They use safe, non-toxic ingredients and are sourced, made, and packaged in eco-friendly ways.
Harmful Chemical Ingredients vs Natural and Non-Toxic Ingredients
Conventional hand sanitizers contain many undesirable ingredients. A common active ingredient is Methanol (wood alcohol), a highly toxic substance that can be lethal even in relatively small amounts when ingested (as little as 10 ml can be fatal for a child).
Benzene, an industrial solvent that is known to be a cancer-causing carcinogen, has also been found in sanitizers. In 2021, the FDA recalled hand sanitizers containing unacceptable levels of benzene, and other chemicals linked to cancer and immune dysfunction.
Take a look at this video by CBS Mornings for more:
Triclosan, an antibacterial and antifungal agent, is also frequently used. Frequent or overexposure to Triclosan can disrupt hormone function, impact immune function, and make you more susceptible to allergies.
Natural hand sanitizers generally use safer active ingredients, like ethyl alcohol and isopropyl alcohol.
When it comes to inactive ingredients, the undesirable ingredients found in many conventional sanitizers include parabens, Polyethylene Glycol Compounds (PEGs), artificial dyes and phthalates, in synthetic fragrances.
Natural hand sanitizers use safer alternatives, like essential oils instead of synthetic fragrances.
Many sanitizers also include ingredients to soften or thicken them, and ingredients to add moisture to your hands. These can include undesirable oils like palm oil, or glycerin made from animal or petroleum products.
We use sanitizers daily, and often multiple times a day. Considering how frequently we’re using it, a natural hand sanitizer that doesn’t contain any undesirable ingredients is a much safer option!
Environmental Impact – Packaging and Brand Ethics
In addition to the ingredients, natural hand sanitizers are generally made by eco-friendly brands (all the options listed here are!).
They’re made in ways that limit their environmental impact, from responsible ingredient sourcing, to eco-friendly manufacturing and sustainable packaging instead of plastic.
Let’s look at what to look for when you’re choosing the best natural hand sanitizer for you:
What to Look for When Selecting a Natural Hand Sanitizer
There are a few things to consider when you’re selecting the best natural hand sanitizer to choose.
We like sustainable and eco-friendly products, so we consider the environment as well as our health in our selection criteria:
The best hand sanitizer is the one you will really use! We’ve all bought products only to realize that it’s not quite what we were looking for and it ends up sitting around until it has to be discarded.
To avoid that waste, choose the type of sanitizer that works best for you. You can choose from liquid sprays, gels (flip top/pump dispenser), or foams.
Choose an option that will be easy for you to use, suits your lifestyle and that you like the feel of on your hands.
The following ingredients are in most natural hand sanitizers:
- Alcohol: The primary active ingredient in most natural hand sanitizers is alcohol, which is there to kill germs and bacteria. To be effective, the alcohol concentration needs to be at least 60%.
- Essential Oils: Avoid anything with synthetic fragrances and phthalates and choose options that are fragranced with essential oils instead. Many essential oils also have beneficial properties like antibacterial, antiviral, soothing, and cooling properties. These make it more effective, and gentler on your hands.
- Skin Conditioners: Alcohol is harsh on your skin, especially if you’re using it frequently. Look for sanitizers that contain ingredients to combat this, like natural oils (except for Palm Oil), vegetable-based glycerin, aloe vera extracts, vitamin E, peppermint, and lavender.
- Certified Organic Ingredients: Ingredients that are certified organic have been grown with no chemicals and are generally better the environment than their non-organic counterparts
Brand Values: Sustainability and Ethics
Every dollar spent is a vote cast. Choose brands and businesses that are actively pursuing sustainability and ethical business practices.
Check their websites to see what they have to say about their ethics and sustainability, most eco-friendly companies will have this information easily available.
You can also look for any sustainability certifications they have.
Conventional hand sanitizers come with huge amounts of plastic packaging. It can’t always be re-used or recycled, and it’s often made from virgin plastic instead of recycled plastic.
To skip the waste and the impacts of manufacturing new plastic unnecessarily, look for sustainable packaging options:
- Refillable and re-usable
- Made from recycled materials
- Compostable or biodegradable
- Minimal packaging (refills are great for this!)
- Sustainably sourced (especially for paper products)
Organic vs Natural Hand Sanitizers
The terms ‘natural’ and ‘organic’ do not always mean the same thing.
Take a look at this short video by Nature’s Flavors to see why:
Natural refers to anything (usually plant-based) that is found in nature and is not synthetic or man-made.
Natural products are not synthetic and generally do not contain the many harmful chemicals found in their synthetic counterparts.
However, natural products are often grown and produced in ways that do use synthetic chemicals. In agriculture, crops are usually grown with the aid of chemical fertilizers, pesticides, and other artificial chemicals.
Organic, on the other hand, refers to natural products that are produced without the use of artificial chemicals.
To be certified organic, a product must meet certain standards for production that ensure that no artificial chemicals, hormones, or additives are used.
So, all organic hand sanitizers are natural, but not all-natural hand sanitizers are organic!
7 Top Natural Hand Sanitizers
Here is our selection of the best organic and natural hand sanitizers to choose from. All the brands on this list are eco-conscious, making high-quality products that are safe and effective:
1. Plaine Products Peppermint Hand Sanitizer
Plaine Products is a vegan and cruelty-free zero-waste brand. In addition to their natural hand sanitizers, they also make zero-waste shampoos, hair care, and body washes.
They’re committed to creating safe and healthy, with the least environmental impact.
Plaine Products uses only safe, non-toxic ingredients, as per the Environmental Working Group (EWG) standards.
They’re also certified B Corp, vegan, cruelty-free, carbon-neutral, and members of 1 for the Planet. All their products are zero-waste and come in aluminum bottles, which can be refilled or recycled.
Plaine Products’ zero-waste natural hand sanitizer uses non-drying and uses no harsh chemicals. It is made with safe ethyl alcohol (70%), infused with peppermint essential oils for additional antimicrobial and antiviral protection.
It is GMO-free, contains no synthetic fragrances, and is biodegradable. The formula is effective, gentle, and leaves no sticky residue.
Ingredients: Active Ingredient: Ethyl alcohol 70%, Other Ingredients: Water, Peppermint essential oil
Price: $15.00 (16 oz)
Plaine Products Review Score: 5/5
Where to Buy: Amazon
2. The Naked Bee Orange Blossom Honey Hand Sanitizer
Based in Texas, The Naked Bee is a brand that operates with the philosophy of giving more than it takes. They make a wide range of personal care products, including hand sanitizers, lotions, balms, sunscreens, and soaps.
The Naked Bee products are all made with the planted and the people in mind, using only safe and responsibly sourced ingredients. All their products are cruelty-free and they use no parabens, sulfates, propylene glycol, mineral oil, dyes, or pigments.
The Naked Bee’s Operation Pollination is an initiative to protect and advocate for bees in the USA. Partnerships with retailers across the country help them raise awareness and sell wildflower seeds for planting to support declining bee populations.
Their Orange Blossom Honey scented hand sanitizer uses a moisturizing and soothing formula, made with Aloe Vera and Witch Hazel. The fragrance is phthalate-free.
Ingredients: Active Ingredients: Alcohol (sd alcohol 40) 70%, Inactive Ingredients: Purified Water, Glycerin, Witch Hazel, Aloe Vera Gel, Seaweed Extract, Green Tea Extract, Vitamin E, Carbomer, Phthalate-Free Fragrance.
Price: $35.99 (32oz)
Amazon Review Score: 4.6/5
Where to Buy: Baked Bee Online
3. Package Free Zero-Waste Unscented Hand Sanitizer
As a zero-waste company, every aspect of their business is zero-waste, and they aim to make it easy and accessible for others to adopt a zero-waste lifestyle.
Their commitment to sustainability includes products that reduce waste and methane emissions, carbon offset shipping, and a partnership with Pachama to employ thousands of people in communities around the world to restore vital ecosystems.
Package Free uses plastic-free shipping, and the packaging is 100% recyclable and 100% compostable.
Package Free’s natural hand sanitizer is completely compostable and the paper label, glass bottle, and plastic pump are all recyclable.
It is a gentle yet effective formula that is unscented and made with ethanol, peroxide, water, and palm oil-free vegetable glycerin.
Ingredients: Ethanol, hydrogen peroxide, purified water, vegetable glycerin (made without palm oil).
Price: $12.00 (2 oz)
Package Free Review Score: 4.9/5
Where to Buy: Package Free Shop
4. EO Essential Oils Organic Lavender Hand Sanitizer
EO Essential Oils is a family-owned, zero-waste brand from California. They make a range of natural personal care products and essential oils, using mainly organic ingredients.
EO Essential Oils believes in” people, purpose and the planet before profits”. They’re a certified B Corp, and their products are Certified Organic and Leaping Bunny Certified cruelty-free.
All their ingredients are ethically sourced and they are a plastic-neutral company, operating on zero-waste principles.
EO Essential Oils Products also donates to various social welfare organizations and they offer their employees paid leave to volunteer for causes that matter to them.
EO Essential Oils’ organic lavender hand sanitizer is made with organic lavender essential oils and alcohol (62%) derived from sugar cane. It is an effective and soothing formula, with a lavender scent that lingers long after the alcohol has evaporated.
They’re 2 oz bottles and come as a pack of 6 – the ideal travel size natural hand sanitizer!
Ingredients: Active Ingredient: Organic Ethanol, Inactive Ingredients: Purified Water, Organic Lavendula Angustifolia (Lavender) Essential Oil, Organic Echinacea Angustifolia Leaf Extract, Vegetable Glycerin, Tocopherol
Price: $24.85 (2 oz -pack of 6)
Amazon Review Score: 4.8/5
5. Puracy Citrus and Sea Salt Gel Hand Sanitizer
Puracy is a brand from Austin, Texas that makes plant-based cleaning and personal care products. They make only safe, non-toxic products that are hypoallergenic and completely safe for use with children and pets.
All their products are biodegradable, and their packaging is recyclable. They also offer refills, which reduce plastic, water, and energy use by 90%.
In terms of social responsibility, Puracy makes a donation to local children and families in need of support with every purchase.
Puracy’s gel hand sanitizer is made with safe isopropyl alcohol (70%), moisturizing plant-based ingredients, and natural fragrances.
The formula is non-drying and contains no nasty chemicals like dyes, synthetic fragrances, sulfates, triclosan, formaldehyde, parabens, and phosphates. It also contains no palm oil or its derivatives and is GMO-free.
Ingredients: Active ingredients: Isopropyl alcohol (70%), Inactive ingredients: Purified water (Aqua, eau), Vegetable glycerin (Plant-based skin softener), Hydroxypropyl cellulose (Plant-derived thickener), Aloe barbadensis (Aloe vera) leaf juice, Tocopherol/Tocopheryl Acetate (Vitamin E), Caprylyl glycol (Coconut-based preservative), Natural fragrance
Price: $11.99 (12 oz)
Puracy Review Score: 4.8/5
Where to Buy: Puracy
6. Bronner’s Organic Lavender Hand Sanitizer
Dr. Bronner’s is a very well-known brand when it comes to eco-friendly, sustainable, and ethical practices. Famous for their all-in-one castile soap, they make certified organic, cruelty-free cleaning and personal care products.
They’re a Certified B Corp, and their whole business model is focused on sustainability and ethical, socially responsible practices.
Dr. Bronner’s organic hand sanitizer is made with just four ingredients – organic ethyl alcohol, water, organic lavender (or peppermint) oil, and organic glycerin. Like all Dr. Bronner’s products, it is multi-purpose and can be used as a hand sanitizer, a water-less cleanser for children’s hands and faces, deodorant, and an air freshener.
Ingredients: Organic, Fair Trade Certified Ethyl Alcohol (62%), Water, Organic Glycerin (Soy), Organic Lavender Oil
Price: $4.24 (2 oz)
Amazon Review Score: 4.9/5
Where to Buy: Dr. Bronner’s Online
DIY Sanitizer Recipe: How to Make Your Own Hand Sanitizer
Making your own hand sanitizer is easier than it seems and there are many great recipes out there!
That said, your homemade hand sanitizer needs to be safe and effective.
The World Health Organization recommends a simple recipe, which is both safe and effective. It contains only alcohol, peroxide, glycerol, and water.
We love this simple and effective DIY recipe for natural hand sanitizer by Sophie Uliano, which uses the WHO recipe, with the addition of aloe vera and essential oils:
Sophie Uliano’s DIY Natural Hand Sanitizer Recipe
This recipe, by Sophie Uliano is very easy to make and you can find all the ingredients online or at your local drug store.
We recommend using organic essential oils and using pure aloe vera gel instead of glycerin but if you do use glycerin, just make sure it’s a natural, plant-based one.
- 1 cup of rubbing alcohol 70% to 99% concentration (or 151 proof grain alcohol)
- 1 tbsp hydrogen peroxide
- 1/3 cup of water if using 99% alcohol, 1/4 cup of water if using 70% alcohol
- 1 tsp vegetable glycerine or aloe vera gel
- 30 drops of essential oils of your choice. She uses 5 drops of Rosemary, Sweet Orange, Cinnamon, Cedar Wood, and 10 drops of Eucalyptus essential oil.
- Clean and sanitize your workspace and tools
- Pour all the ingredients into a measuring jug and mix then well
- Divide the mixture into dark glass spray bottles. The spray bottles need to be dark glass or plastic, to limit the light and protect the mixture from degrading.
Tips for to Make the Most of Your DIY Natural Hand Sanitizer
The ingredients may separate a bit in the bottle, so always shake it thoroughly before you use it.
- Store your bottles out of direct sunlight
- Make sure they’re tightly sealed to prevent any alcohol from evaporating and reducing the efficacy of your sanitizer
- Use aloe vera gel instead of glycerin for added conditioning with soothing, healing properties.
- Choose essential oils for the properties you need. Here are some popular choices:
- Peppermint is cooling and soothing
- Camomile, Clove, Geranium, and Tea Tree are good for eczema in a natural hand sanitizer
- Lavender, Rosemary, and Tea Tree are soothing and have antiviral and antibacterial properties
Final Thoughts on Natural Hand Sanitizers
There are many great natural hand sanitizers available that do not contain any harmful chemicals and are safe to use repeatedly.
Today, we have covered some of the best options to choose from – and all of them are from sustainable, ethical, and socially responsible brands.
If you prefer to make your own, try the recipe we included above and let us know it came out in the comments!
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the difference between natural and organic hand sanitizers?
Natural hand sanitizers are made with natural ingredients that are usually plant-based, such as ethyl alcohol and essential oils. Organic hand sanitizers use natural ingredients that have been grown and produced with no artificial chemicals, like chemical fertilizers or pesticides. Take a look at the article for a more detailed explanation.
Can you make your own natural hand sanitizer?
Yes. It is very easy to make your own hand sanitizer at home, with the right ingredients and equipment. It is important to use only safe ingredients and to include a high-enough concentration of alcohol - 60% to 99%, with over 70% being the best recommendation. Take a look at the full article for a DIY hand sanitizer recipe that uses the WHO approved recipe, with organic essential oils.
Why are natural hand sanitizers better?
Natural hand sanitizers are better because they're safe to use, as just as effective as conventional sanitizers. They do not contain any of the harmful, toxic, chemicals used in conventional sanitizers and they're better for the environment too. Read the full review for more info on what makes natural sanitizers safer for you and the environment.
References and Useful Resources
David Suzuki Foundation: The Dirty Dozen: PEG Compounds and Their Contaminants
Made Safe: Toxic Chemicals in Hand Sanitizer
Medical News Today: Essential oils and eczema: Effectiveness, Side Effects, and More
News-Medical: What is Triclosan and Why is it Banned?
The Street: 5 Hidden Dangers of Hand Sanitizers
U.S. Food & Drug Administration: FDA Updates on Hand Sanitizers Consumers Should Not Use
World Health Organization (WHO): Guide to Local Production: WHO-recommended Hand Rub Formulations