I’ve always had my doubts about the safety and effectiveness of commercial hand sanitizers, but when the FDA made their ruling regarding antibacterial soaps, I knew it was time to look into how to make an all-natural and no alcohol version of hand sanitizer. Spoiler alert – it’s super easy and takes about 30 seconds. Learn how…
The announcement from the FDA regarding antibacterial soaps was sure to be a precedent to hand sanitizers. Straight out of the mouths of the FDA’s Director of the Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, Janet Woodcock, MD, “Consumers may think antibacterial washes are more effective at preventing the spread of germs, but we have no scientific evidence that they are any better than plain soap and water. In fact, some data suggests that antibacterial ingredients may do more harm than good over the long-term.”
What’s All of the Fuss About?
Nineteen ingredients commonly used in antibacterial soaps and washes, including endocrine disruptors linked to reproductive and developmental harm, are being phased out with this new ruling from the FDA. While there is a difference between antibacterial soaps and hand sanitizers, the ingredients are similar. Purell’s hand sanitizer received a YELLOW (medium threat), mainly from reds and high yellows for potentially toxic ingredients combined with harmless ingredients such as glycerine and water.
According to Skin Deep, ingredients in Purell Hand Sanitizer are linked to:
- Developmental/reproductive toxicity
- Endocrine disruption
- Organ system toxicity (non-reproductive)
- Irritation (skin, eyes, or lungs)
Further, several of the ingredients have noted violations, restrictions and warnings and have been labeled as contamination concerns, occupational hazards, and causing biochemical or cellular level changes.
The Ingredients and DIY
Of course, nothing is recommended above good ole fashioned washing your hands with soap and water, but sometimes you are in a place where it’s not feasible and hand sanitizer is a necessary alternative.
Why chance it on questionable ingredients when you can make your own? Here’s what you need to do:
Organic Aloe Vera Gel
1/2 tsp Alcohol Free Witch Hazel
2 Drops Tea Tree Essential Oil
2 Drops Purification Essential Oil (or your favorite scent)
2 oz Glass Pump Bottle
When using Essential Oils, it is recommended that you use glass containers. I like the smaller glass pump bottle so it will fit into your purse. There are plenty of larger options out there too. Whatever size you have, fill it up about 4/5 of the way with aloe vera gel. For a smaller bottle, add 1/2 tsp of witch hazel, and for a larger bottle, add 1 tsp of witch hazel.
Since Essential Oils are extremely concentrated, a good rule of thumb is 1-2 drops per ounce. So for a 2 ounce container, I like using 4 drops. For a 10 ounce bottle, you can use 10-20 drops.
Tea Tree is the end-all-be-all antibacterial Essential Oil. But the smell, while not repugnant, isn’t the happiest of scents. Feel free to add whatever feel-good scent to this to make it smell like you want to, whether it’s rose or a citrus. I like Purification, because it neutralizes the tea tree scent and gives it a light fragrance.
How and Why it Works
Tea tree, also known as Melaleuca alternifolia is well-known for its powerful antiseptic properties and ability to treat wounds. There are over 300+ scientific studies on the antimicrobial properties of tea tree oil, and its ability to kill bacteria, viruses, and fungi. It’s used the world over as an antiseptic and to treat wounds.
Aloe vera has more than 75 potentially active components have been identified in the plant, including vitamins, minerals, saccharides, amino acids, anthraquinones, enzymes, lignin, saponins and salicylic acids. It provides 20 of the 22 human-required amino acids and eight of the eight essential amino acids. It’s also safe when consumed by mouth. Aloe vera has antiviral and anti-inflammatory properties that accelerate healing.
Witch hazel is a natural antioxidant and anti-inflammatory. It’s strong antioxidant and astringent properties kill bacteria that live within the skin’s pores and stop cellular damage that can lead to skin cancer, and prevent signs of aging. It helps to protect against DNA damage, tumor growth, and free radical damage that builds up over time from exposure to UV light and pollution.
Always be sure to purchase witch hazel made with organic ingredients, doesn’t include isopropyl alcohol, and ensure it is from the species Hamamelis virginiana.
So not only will this potion help to sanitize your hands, the witch hazel will help to prevent damage from the sun. Double bonus!
Tea tree oil has been safely and “medicinally” used for a gazillion years but it does come with some warnings that I have to share.
Women who are pregnant or nursing should always check with their doctor prior to using essential oils and essential oils should never be used on babies without the consent of their physician.
According to the National Poison Center, tea tree oil is known to be poisonous if swallowed. Tea tree oil should NOT be taken by mouth for any reason, even though some traditional uses include tea tree oil as a mouthwash, treatment for bad breath, and treatment of toothache and mouth ulcers.
Safe Commercial Alternatives
If you are looking for a safer alternative, but don’t want to make this yourself, here are a few commercial brands that I have used and recommend. Both received GREEN ratings from the Environmental Working Group.
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What about you? Do you use hand sanitizer? What are your thoughts?
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