DIY hand sanitizer

Try this simple recipe to help keep germs at bay.

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The ingredients for homemade hand sanitizer. — Jenna Lambert

Just like our entire world right now, this week’s recipe is going to be a little different from usual. There’s no denying the fact that each and every one of us is feeling some serious nervousness and anxiety, which is natural. Those feelings are actually tools of survival, hardwired into us as response to a lack of security. The news, the statistics, and the way we are required to go about our daily lives changes by the day (and by the hour, sometimes by the minute), so our bodies and brains inevitably have gone into that anxious survival mode. It’s tempting to permanently glue your eyes to your favorite news channel, while sitting on your throne of toilet paper, but I promise you aren’t helping yourself or anyone else in doing that. Yes, it’s good to stay informed, and yes, it’s good to maybe stock up a little extra, in order to limit your trips to the grocery store, but remember that your well-being is just as important as the well-being of others.

The main component of all of this that messes with my personal well-being is the lack of control and the sense of helplessness. We are all aware of (and I sure hope we are all following) the local, federal, and common-sense guidelines necessary at this time, but the bottom line is, beyond that, there isn’t much else we can do. Being the self-proclaimed anxious control freak that I am, accepting that is nearly impossible. 

The best thing I’ve been able to do for both myself and my community is to rein in a sense of security and control, by looking to the resources around my house to fill my needs. This idea not only fills that void of not knowing I’m doing all that i can to protect my family, but it also contributes to local resource conservation, which is especially important for our little Island right now. If there is anything people are inclined to hoard besides toilet paper, it’s hand sanitizer. It has become a scarce and valuable resource. Luckily, it just takes a few common household ingredients to make. 

Hand sanitizer

Two parts isopropyl alcohol or ethanol (91 percent to 99 percent alcohol)

One part aloe vera gel (fresh or bottled) 

A few drops of essential oil or lemon juice

 Whisk or blend the ingredients together until combined. Store in a labeled container. For added protection, wait 72 hours before using the sanitizer, as this gives time for the alcohol to kill any germs introduced in the making. Keep in mind, this should be used in a pinch, and in addition to handwashing, not in place of it. 

Creating this home remedy felt like a tiny victory for me, and I’ve noticed that accomplishing such tiny victories is what has been getting me through each day. The resources around your home might not include rubbing alcohol and aloe vera. Maybe you have an old sweater that can be crafted into a mask to wear out to the grocery store, to keep you from touching your face and to encourage social distancing. Maybe you have some old pieces of vegetables you would normally throw out, that can be germinated and planted in a little pot in your window, in order to become more self-sustainable (more on that later). The moral here is to do what you can with what you have, and to realize that right now, that’s just about all you can do. One resource I know we all have is more time at home than usual. So enjoy your loved ones, catch up with your siblings, call that old friend you always miss but never have time to talk to, and go outside and take in that fresh air that’s a little less polluted than usual. We have to believe that there is a silver lining in everything — even in this.