Is Hand Sanitizer Healthy or Hazardous?
Hand sanitizer gets a lot of positive press and is used by millions of people. It is praised for it’s amazing ability to kill germs and prevent the spreading of disease. However, hand sanitizer has a dark side that could damage your health that most people know nothing about.
You can find hand sanitizer just about everywhere. It is a staple in almost every woman’s purse and diaper bag, in most school classrooms and in every hospital room. You can now find hand sanitizer stations in rest areas, airports, shops and restaurants. Although it is used with only the best intentions of maintaining good health, hand sanitizer itself is far from healthy and is a recipe for disaster.
Let me clarify, keeping your hands clean is an excellent idea and one of the best ways to prevent the spreading of viruses and bacteria. However, good old-fashioned hand washing is often replaced by a few squirts of hand sanitizer. This is not an equal trade off!
Washing your hands with soap and water is still the VERY BEST way to get those germs off of your hands.
Hand sanitizer can kill germs, but it doesn’t actually CLEAN your hands. It should be reserved for when soap and water are not available. Protect yourself from the many possible hazardous side-effects from commercial and chemical hand sanitizers.
The typical store bought brand of hand sanitizer contains ingredients that are not safe and causes side-effects. These side-effects from overuse, individual sensitivity and the chemicals contained in hand sanitizers, raised enough concerns for the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to issue a warning about its use in 2010.
In fact, the Environmental Working Group gave the most popular brand of sanitizer a score of 6 out of 10 in toxicity! They claim it is hazardous to the one’s immune system and has many highly concerning ingredients.
Hand Sanitizer Side-Effects
When reading the list below, I want you to remember that you can absorb up to 60% of what you put on your skin into your bloodstream! This is important in EVERYTHING you apply to your body, not just sanitizers. Your lotions, your soaps and even your makeup are absorbed into your bloodstream, which can have toxic results.
Here are some of the more popular “poisonous” ingredients used in hand sanitizers:
This alcohol is extremely drying to the skin. It is also linked to cancer, birth defects and organ toxicity. Drinking denatured ethyl alcohol, otherwise known as ethanol, can be fatal. While there hasn’t been a single documented case of a child dying from
it, there have been some pretty frightening stories. Parents, like myself, should at a minimum be aware of what is in hand sanitizer. Flip that bottle over and you are likely to see that it’s 62% ethyl alcohol. This form of ethanol is part of the chemistry in wine and other alcoholic drinks. So, the alcohol content is potent enough in a 2 oz bottle to equal 4 shots of vodka. You don’t want your child to sip a drink, so why let them rub it in their skin?
Even more toxic than ethyl alcohol, inhaling isopropyl alcohol fumes can cause possible neurological damage. It also dries the skin out. Some research shows toxicityeven in low doses when used around the eyes and lips. Drinking this can be fatal, as well.
Also found in antibacterial soaps, triclosan has been known to not only kill bacteria and viruses, but also human cells! It promotes the development of antibiotic resistant “super bugs,” and disrupts hormonal balance by interfering with the endocrine system. Triclosan also stays on your skin for up to 12 hours! It has been detected in human breast milk, proving it can actually accumulate in the body.
Benzalkonium Chloride (BAC)
BAC is used in many “non-alcohol” based sanitizers. I was flabbergasted how often it’s used in sanitizers promoting that they are “natural.” This chemical germicide is linked to allergies, cancer and organ toxicity.
Chemical based fragrances contain phthalates, which act like estrogen in the body. They can greatly disrupt the body’s endocrine system causing a plethora of side-effects. Some of those included infertility, PCOS, erectile dysfunction and breast cancer.
All these ingredients highlights the importance of label literacy and being aware of the products we use and bring into our homes. ALWAYS read the label!
Safe and Natural Hand Sanitizers
The above list of ingredients make up the majority of your store bought hand sanitizers. I have searched and searched looking for a sanitizer that does not contain any of the dangerous ingredients listed. However, with hundreds of sanitizers on the market, I have found only one safe natural hand sanitizer that I can fully endorse.
The hand sanitizer, Clean Well, and can be purchased at health food stores or via the internet. Clean Well contains no alcohol, triclosan, or benzalkonium chloride. It uses thyme oil, which is naturally antimicrobial. It comes in a spray, pump gel, foam, and even handy wipes to wipe off those dirty and grimy hands. The wipes are also great for sanitizing restaurant high chairs and tables.
An all-natural sanitizer should also be used instead of commercial, chemical-laden sanitizers that pose a potential risk for poisoning. I recommend making your own sanitizer. It is very inexpensive and you control the ingredients! You can even make it smell the way you like by adding your favorite essential oils!
Homemade Hand Sanitizer
The key to a safe and healthy hand sanitizer is antimicrobial and antibacterial essential oils. There are several to choose from and some companies even sell a blend of several oils in one bottle.
- My all time favorite is Thieves Oil. Thieves has its roots way back in the 15th century. There is a legend that those who robbed the sick and dying during the Black Plague, used this blend of herbs to keep from being infected. Hence the name, Thieves.
- Tea tree oil is another popular oil for its ability to kill germs.
- Thyme oil, neem, lemon and lavender have antimicrobial properties as well.
It may seem like an investment up front, but once you purchase what you need, you can make up to 20 travel size hand sanitizer bottles! These would also make excellent birthday or holiday gifts for friends and family.
Healthy Hand Sanitizer Recipe
- 15 drop of antimicrobial essential oil (Thieves, tea tree, thyme, neem, lemon or lavender)
- 5 drops of grapefruit seed extract (a natural preservative and germ killer)
- 5 drops of the oil of your choice for extra scent
- ½ oz of witch hazel
Fill a small spray bottle with the above ingredients and shake well. Vigorously shake before each use. Spray generously when needed.
Having an all-natural hand sanitizer on hand can be very handy when soap and water are not available. Don’t bombard your body any longer with regular hand sanitizers with hazardous ethyl alcohol, isopropyl alcohol and triclosan and avoid the harmful side-effects. They are intended to help you stay healthy, but can actually harm you and your immune system.
Make up a batch of my “Healthy Hand Sanitizer” and banish those germs naturally!
And please, let me know what you think! I love feedback and would love to know if you have your own hand sanitizer recipe! Comment below!