Back to school, here we go! Most parents, including myself, are busy getting binders, pencils and erasers, when one important thing that needs to get on the list is hand sanitizer. Chemical-free, of course!
As the kids rush excitedly into classrooms, the chance of germs spreading also increases. Washing hands after school is good habit for all kids, of course. During school, using a pure hand sanitizer before snacks and lunch is helpful in reducing germ exposure for all ages!
Hand sanitizer usage has increased in recent years as a result of virus outbreaks such as the H1N1 flu. In the old days, hand sanitizers were used mostly in food service and clinical settings in addition to soap and water. Companies started to take notice and produce more options. There are many available, both in standard and chemical-free varieties. Let’s take a look at some of the ingredients to avoid in the commercial products, and how to make a really easy, natural hand sanitizer at home.
Ingredients to avoid:
Triclosan – If the label reads “antibacterial” it is likely to include triclosan. The chemical can kill bacteria, yes, but research suggests it can create super bugs and irritate skin. The FDA is reviewing triclosan, so best to avoid if you can.
Parabens – These chemicals are used to prevent microbe growth in products, but have also been linked to cancer, endocrine disruption, neurotoxicity and irritation. A lot of companies are removing them and noting “paraben-free” on labeling. Watch out for this!
Fragrances – As in any personal product, “fragrance” on the label is something to avoid unless it specifically states where it is derived from (ie: essential oils). Otherwise companies are not required to disclose fragrances, so there could be a host of toxic chemicals in the mix.
Fortunately, there are many organic, chemical-free companies producing wonderful options now. One I recommend trying is Dr. Bronner’s Lavender Organic Hand Sanitizer. It has a calming natural scent and also leaves your hands feeling moisturized.
It is just as simple to buy a small spray bottle at your local store and make your own!
5-10 drops lavender essential oil
30 drops tea tree essential oil
1 tablespoon witch hazel extract or
8 ounces 100% pure aloe vera gel
1/4 teaspoon Vitamin E oil
(will increase shelf life and soften hands!)
Combine essential oils and Vitamin E oil to a small glass bowl and swirl to mix. Add the witch hazel (or alcohol) to the oils and swirl again. Add the aloe vera gel and mix well. Add to the spray bottle and gently shake before each use. Voila!
** Pro Tip: Put the spray bottle in your child’s lunch box – they are more likely to use it then if it is in their backpack!