What's in your Hand Sanitizer?!
You have probably used more hand sanitizer in the past few months than you have in your entire life... We are on heightened alert for viruses lately. It turns out that the advice to make sure you are keeping your hands clean and pay a bit of extra attention to cleaning things around the house is probably welcome advice for most people. BUT... Could we be going overboard?
As I write this, there are 150 hand sanitizers on the FDA list to be avoided. Wow! Is this a situation where the "cure" is worse than the problem? I'm not sure, but I do know that it has caused me to step back and look at what is going on my hands and those of my kids. Schools are using hand sanitizer at every turn.
I actually started to wonder about this as we started to see the much publicized spread of covid in the news earlier this spring. We practice good hand-washing protocols and generally don't use much hand sanitizer. But, as all this was ramping up, I must admit, I got caught up in the hysteria thinking we needed more in the office. I usually use non-toxic brands from Young Living (Thieves) or the Everyone brand which gets good reviews from the EWG for non-toxicity. But, I couldn't find any of those, so I ordered something on Amazon not reading the ingredients. Well... I should have read them!
It turns out that I ordered some sanitizer with the ingredient Triethanolamine. Tim, my husband, has chronic asthama. For years we have managed it with regular adjustments, diet and proper supplemenation/lifestyle modifications. Lately, he's had some flare ups. Some of it is probably the masks that we are required by our city to wear. But, he had also been using the hand sanitizer I bought on Amazon. I started to dig in and do some research.
It turns out that Triethanolamine has been linked to Asthama. So, he stopped using that and he has seen an improvement.
This whole thing sparked concern for our kids. We are essentially bathing them in hand sanitizer and thinking it's a good thing. What if it's not!? What can we do about it.
I started researching. In order to be compliant with CDC cleaning protocols, hand sanitizer must contain 60% alchohol. The other stuff is simply "inactive" ingredients. Meaning, they don't really matter. Basicallly, you could use straight alcohol that is 60% or higher in concentration and meet the guidelines, but it would smell terrible, be like water and dry the hands out terribly.
So, you can look for the non toxic brands. I like Young Living Thieves line which has a hand sanitizer and the Everyone brand that makes a spray and a pump/gel. Or, you can make your own which is what I have been doing as it's cheaper and easier since the commercial stuff is hard to find right now. Here's how you do it....
- Decide if you want a pump or spray. Spray is easier and requires less ingredients, but is a bit more drying.
- Gather the pump or spray bottles
- Use the highest concentration of alchohol you can find (I have 80%). This allows you to add other ingredients so it's still 60+ percent alcohol
- Fill your bottle 3/4 of the way with alchohol
- If making a pump/gel, add aloe vera GEL (if you use fresh aloe, it will turn brown and look nasty in a week or two). The aloe keeps your hands from drying out.
- Add a few drops of your favorite essential oil, lavender, lemon, thieves, etc.
Easy! I reached out to my kids teachers and asked if I could make some for the class and they were happy to let me do this (They don't want the toxic stuff either). Many of the moms in our class are of the same mind, so we shared recipes and discussed this. When I made it, I labeled it noting it was 60% alchohol to avoid any question over whether it would be effective.
Hope that helps! I am a fan of cleanliness, just also a fan of non-toxic ways to accomplish this!
To your Health!