Do you not have easy access to soap and water? Hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol content should be your best friend! In fact, it’s been approved by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to be an effective way to fight germs.

There are many different types of hand sanitizer out there, and it’s easy to be confused about which one is best for you. Take a deep breath because we’re here to talk about waterless hand sanitizer specifically, and we’ll get into the fine points of what this cleaner is all about!

We all recognize the value and importance of our current environment today. Waterless hand sanitizer is an effective supplement when you’re in an uncertain environment and 20 seconds of handwashing just isn’t available.

– Robert Reed, Founder and CEO of ERGO Styling Tools

What is Waterless Hand Sanitizer?

Waterless hand sanitizer is a type of sanitizer that mixes alcohol with more natural, less harsh ingredients like aloe vera and rosemary. This mixture helps keep your skin from becoming dry after use. Unlike regular hand sanitizer, this type of cleaner can also remove dirt and grease from your hands, which makes it a good substitute for soap and water.

Most waterless hand sanitizers are either gel, liquid, or foam-based and contain at least 65% alcohol, which is above the amount recommended by the CDC. You can’t go wrong grabbing a few bottles and keeping them with you in your house, office, car, and everywhere in between!

Experts recommend using a waterless hand sanitizer before eating a meal. As a result, you won’t have to worry about ingesting any harmful chemicals or ingredients!

Who Invented Waterless Hand Sanitizer?

The first bottles of waterless hand sanitizer were invented by a married couple named Goldie and Jerry Lippman in 1946. This hand sanitizer was specifically created for rubber plant workers who didn’t want to use harsh chemicals to kill germs at the end of their shifts.

The hand sanitizer was called Gojo and was made using mineral oil and petroleum jelly. It’s a brand that’s still favored by auto mechanics to remove grease and oil from their hands. The Gojo company also went on to invent the popular hand sanitizer brand Purell in 1988.

What Ingredients Are Used in Waterless Hand Sanitizer?

Just like any hand sanitizer, waterless hand sanitizers contain a mixture of ingredients that work together to fight off germs. This can include any combination of the following:

  • Alcohol
  • Leaf extracts (most commonly aloe vera)
  • Petroleum jelly
  • Glycerin
  • Mineral oils
  • Vitamin E


Alcohol is an essential ingredient in sanitizers as it’s ultimately what kills the germs. Ethanol or isopropanol in particular are commonly used as they change the germ’s chemical makeup, which stops it from causing you to get sick.

Leaf Extracts

Many waterless hand sanitizers contain leaf extracts from plants like aloe vera, witch hazel, mint, or rosemary. These plants have healing properties and have been used as natural remedies for years.

Petroleum Jelly

Petroleum jelly treats wounds and burns and also helps your skin retain moisture. This is particularly valuable when it comes to waterless hand sanitizer because you won’t have to worry about your hands drying out after repeated use.


Glycerin is a totally colorless and odorless liquid that is often used in cosmetics, ointments, and prescription drugs. It’s been approved by the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) since it’s non-toxic and has antimicrobial properties.

Mineral Oils

You probably use cooking oils all the time for making delicious meals. Mineral oils, on the other hand, are distilled and refined petroleum that can be used to make personal care products like waterless hand sanitizer.

Vitamin E

Vitamin E is a nutrient that acts as an antioxidant. Our bodies need vitamin E since it boosts our immune system and wards off harmful bacteria. This also makes it an excellent ingredient for waterless hand sanitizers.

It’s important to always read the labels on your sanitizers, especially if you have any allergies. You’re the expert of your own health, so stick with ingredients that work well on your skin.

See how hand sanitizer is made by watching this video!

Does Waterless Hand Sanitizer Work?

As long as the waterless hand sanitizer contains at least 60% alcohol content, it will work at fighting off germs. You’re safe to add this type of sanitizer to your shopping cart!

The CDC has even sent waterless hand sanitizers to refugee settlements in the past. These camps often get crowded, which causes an influx of intestinal and respiratory infections. When soap and water just aren’t available, waterless hand sanitizer is a good substitute. It can help prevent the spread of diseases, which ultimately keeps everyone a little healthier and safer. It’s also a good way to keep hands squeaky clean!

Thieves is one of the most popular brands of waterless hand sanitizer. It’s known for having an appealing fragrance and fighting off 99.9% of germs.

How Do You Use Waterless Hand Sanitizer?

You should use waterless hand sanitizer in the same way that you would use regular hand sanitizer. Read the label, apply the sanitizer to the palm of your hand, and rub for at least 10 seconds on both hands, in between your fingers, and under your nails.

The Minnesota Department of Health also released a PDF with steps on how to use waterless hand sanitizer in particular. These steps include:

Make sure your hands are clean

You will have the best results by starting off with as clean of hands as possible. Take some time to wipe away dirt or any other particles.

Apply a dime-sized amount

Pump the sanitizer on the palm of your hand. It’s important to use the right amount of sanitizer to get rid of the most germs.

Rub your hands together

Rub your hands together, making sure to get every inch, from the back to the front, in between your fingers, and even underneath your nails.

Wait for the sanitizer to absorb

Keep on rubbing your hands together until the waterless hand sanitizer is fully absorbed.

Waterless hand sanitizers are popular because they can be less irritating to the skin than regular alcohol-rich varieties or frequent handwashing. Look around at the different brands at retail stores or online through companies like Amazon.

How to Make Waterless Hand Sanitizer

The first step toward living a healthier life is making sure you avoid illnesses whenever possible. Waterless sanitizer helps make that possible, and you can make your very own right at home.

What you’ll need:

  • Aloe vera
  • Isopropyl alcohol
  • Essential oil of your choice
  • Measuring cup
  • Bowl
  • Spoon
  • Empty container

Here’s how to make waterless hand sanitizer:

  • Step One:
    Mix 1 cup of aloe vera and 1 tablespoon of isopropyl alcohol in a bowl. Keep mixing until everything is well-blended.
  • Step Two (Optional):
    Add 8 to 10 drops of essential oil into the bowl. Use any scent you’d like.
  • Step Three:
    Thoroughly mix the aloe vera, isopropyl alcohol, and essential oil together.
  • Step Four:
    Pour the sanitizer into an empty container, preferably one with a hand pump.
  • Step Five:
    Use the DIY sanitizer to clean your hands, especially before eating or after touching germy surfaces like doorknobs and elevator buttons.

DIY hand sanitizer is a good option if you need clean hands in a pinch and don’t have time to go to the store. It’s also a great project to do with kids, especially during those long summer vacations or winter breaks!

How is Waterless Hand Sanitizer Being Used Today?

There has been a serious shortage of hand sanitizers around the world during the COVID-19 pandemic. As a result, many organizations are turning to waterless hand sanitizer to make it through the crisis.

ERGO, a professional salon company, did their part by donating 1,400 bottles of waterless hand sanitizer to the National Association for the Exchange of Industrial Resources, an organization that helps those in need. This sanitizer, named In Between, was previously created by the company for their hair stylists to clean their hands in between clients.

It’s gestures like this that help people get through crises like COVID-19. A few bottles of waterless hand sanitizer can make an incredible difference in the world, especially during times when illness is widespread.

Ergo isn’t the only beauty company that’s helped during the COVID-19 pandemic. John Paul Mitchell, a well-known hair care brand, donated 20,000 sanitizers to first responders and low-income families in California.

The Bottom Line

Whether you grab a few bottles of regular hand sanitizer or go with the waterless variety, it’s essential to have this care product when soap and water just aren’t available. Make sure you always carry a sanitizer when you go to germy places!


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Kalluri, P. Waterless Hand Sanitizer for Diarrhea Prevention in a Humanitarian Emergency.

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Minnesota Department of Health. How it Works: Cleaning Hands with Waterless Hand Sanitizer. Retrieved from,

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Hand Hygiene Recommendations. Retrieved from,

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National Institutes of Health. Vitamin E: Fact Sheet for Consumers. Retrieved from,

WikiHow. (2020, April 10). How to Make Waterless Hand Sanitizer. Retrieved from,

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About the author

Alyssa Mertes

Alyssa is a promo expert with over four years of experience in the industry. She is the Lead Copywriter at Quality Logo Products and has had work published for the Promotional Products Association International and the Advertising Specialty Institute.