Did you know your germ combatting ‘antibacterial’ hand sanitizer that you rely on for that hygiene squirt, isn’t so great after all? According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), there isn’t enough science to show that over-the-counter (OTC) antibacterial soaps are better at preventing illness than washing with plain soap and water. That’s not it, they have also gone to the extent of saying that prolonged use of antibacterial soaps can actually lead to creating antibiotic-resistant super bacteria and have banned the marketing of these antibacterial products from the market.
So what is in that antibacterial hand sanitizer after all?
- Harmful chemicals: Most of the antibacterial hand sanitizers have:
- Triclosan as their key component. This is what gives them the antibacterial quality. A quick look at this chemical with tell you that it’s been linked to multiple health issues like bacteria resistance, infections, skin irritation and liver toxicity.
- Parabens, another chemical found in most hand sanitizers and other personal care products like shampoo, conditioners, body washes etc. These prevent microbe growth in the product and thereby extend its shelf life. Not only that, this nasty chemical has been linked to multiple health issues, including cancer, neurotoxicity, reproductive toxicity, skin irritation etc. You can know more by looking these up in the EWG Skin Deep Cosmetic Database.
- Synthetic fragrance: If your antibacterial sanitizer leaves behind a lovely lingering fragrance, then it most likely is loaded with toxic chemicals. Artificial fragrances are known to have phthalates, that are linked to issues related to genital development, allergies, respiratory distress among others. When buying fragranced products, always read the label to check if ‘Fragrance’ has been listed as an ingredient and in that case avoid it. Look out for the ones made using natural essential oils or the one’s that are phtalate-free.
So what do you do instead? How do you ensure that you always have a little bit of protection against germs at hand? Here are three ways to make your own safe and eco-friendly sanitizer:
DIY Natural Hand Sanitizer:
- Apple Cider Vinegar Natural Sanitizer Spray: This one’s really easy to fix and quite effective even. Apple Cider Vinegar/ regular vinegar is known for its antibacterial and antimicrobial properties. All you need to do is transfer some Apple Cider Vinegar into a recycled personal size spray bottle and add 8-10 drops of essential oils to it. That’s it your spray hand sanitizer is ready to be used.
- Essential Oils Natural Sanitizer Gel: Essential oils are rich and well known for their antibacterial, antiviral, antimicrobial properties. Use them to create your own natural sanitizer:
- 25-30 drops of tea tree oil
- 9 drops of lavender oil
- 9 drops of clove oil
- 16 tablespoons (8 ounces) aloe vera gel
- A small container
- A bowl
Blend the above mixture and store in a small recycled plastic/glass carry on bottle and make sure to keep it away from direct sunlight. Try and prepare them in small batches, as unlike chemical laden sanitizers, these don’t have a very long shelf life. Use on hands as and when required to keep them germ free. (recipe courtesy: http://everydayroots.com/diy-hand-sanitizer)
- Vodka in a spray bottle: If you don’t have the time to make these, here’s a hack – Vodka. Did you know that Vodka has antibacterial properties? Just pour some Vodka in a small spray bottle and mist your hands generously to sanitize when needed. Read our post on uses of Vodka for more ideas.
If you do know of any other ways of making natural hand sanitizers and have been using one, please do share the recipe for the same us. We’d love to try them.