We present a method for recovering the intrinsic (extinction-corrected) luminosity of the 11.2 μm PAH band in galaxy spectra. Using 105 high S/N Spitzer/IRS spectra of star-forming galaxies, we show that the equivalent width ratio of the 12.7 and 11.2 μm PAH bands is independent on the optical depth (τ), with small dispersion (∼5 per cent) indicative of a nearly constant intrinsic flux ratio Rint = (f12.7/f11.2)int = 0.377 ± 0.020. Conversely, the observed flux ratio, Robs = (f12.7/f11.2)obs, strongly correlates with the silicate strength (Ssil) confirming that differences in Robs reflect variation in τ. The relation between Robs and Ssil reproduces predictions for the Galactic Centre extinction law but disagrees with other laws. We calibrate the total extinction affecting the 11.2 μm PAH from Robs, which we apply to another sample of 215 galaxies with accurate measurements of the total infrared luminosity (LIR) to investigate the impact of extinction on L11.2/LIR. Correlation between L11.2/LIR and Robs independently on LIR suggests that increased extinction explains the well-known decrease in the average L11.2/LIR at high LIR. The extinction-corrected L11.2 is proportional to LIR in the range LIR = 109–1013 L⊙. These results consolidate L11.2 as a robust tracer of star formation in galaxies.