All Natural Hand Sanitizer
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Hand sanitizer has become such a norm that for many of us it’s second nature to stick our hands under the automatic dispensers next to the elevator, the work kitchenette, etc. We carry around little containers of sanitizer for “cleaning up” before eating, after taking the bus, when we go camping.
But, as with most heavily processed products, conventional hand sanitizers have some pretty unhealthy ingredients in them. Triclosan, an active ingredient in many antibacterial products, was recently banned by the FDA because it’s a hormone disruptor and is contributing to bacteria resistance—and it isn’t even effective in protecting against seasonal infections like the cold and flu, which are mostly viral, not bacterial.
Other less-than-desirable ingredients in your everyday hand sanitizer include parabens (common in personal care products, and linked to cancer, endocrine disruption, reproductive and immune problems, and skin irritation) and chemical fragrances (linked to allergies, dermatitis and respiratory issues).
Most hand sanitizers are made primarily of alcohol, which, though effective against both bacteria and viruses, kills not just disease-causing bacteria but also healthy microorganisms on the skin. This isn’t good, as your skin’s naturally occurring microorganisms are important for immunity and protect against the invasion of harmful bacteria. Alcohol-based hand sanitizers also dry out your skin, which reduces its natural protective functioning.
And, new research suggests that hyper-sterilizing ourselves with persistent use of antibacterial soaps and hand sanitizers may actually inhibit proper immune development, especially in children. Our immune systems require exposure to common germs to develop properly and stay strong.
So, what to do?!
For most purposes, a good old fashioned hand washing with soap (non-antibacterial) and water is probably the most effective way to keep your hands clean(ish) and your immunity strong.
However, some circumstances (e.g. working in a hospital, changing a diaper) may be cause for a little more heavy duty sanitizing. Here are a few natural hand sanitizer options to call upon if you need them:
Natural hand sanitizers that work
For an alcohol-free option, we love CleanWell (this is great for kids, too!). We also like EO or Dr. Bronner’s—they both cleanse with ethyl alcohol, but have enough nourishing ingredients that they won’t dry out your skin.
DIY natural hand sanitizer
It’s really simple to make your own homemade hand sanitizer. All you’ll need is aloe vera gel, tea tree oil, cinnamon essential oil, and a container to store it in (like this one). Mix 1/4 cup aloe vera gel per 10 drops of each essential oil. Store in your desired container and use as needed!
Essential oils are good sanitizers because they have potent antibacterial, antifungal and other antimicrobal properties, but they need to be properly diluted (such as in the recipe above) before being applied directly to skin.
Just like hand sanitizer, conventional cleaning supplies contain harmful ingredients that add more toxins—rather than “cleaning” them up. Our Healthy Cleaning Guide covers why we recommend using nontoxic cleaning supplies, plus our favorite healthier options.
Get our free guide to chemical-free cleaning for a healthier home:
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Ditch the conventional hand sanitizer (especially if it contains triclosan!) and opt for one of these natural alternatives instead.
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