This past year we can definitely say that there has been a HUGE increase in hand sanitizer usage! With there being such great demand, many of us had to take what we could get.
During this time there was also a lot of confusion around what content of alcohol should be present, how to actually use it so it does sanitize, and the fact that overusing could cause microbe resistance in the long run!
Now that inventory is back in all of our favorite stores, before you grab what’s left on the shelf, think about choosing a non-toxic hand sanitizer first!
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The Best Non-Toxic Hand Sanitizers
Naked Bee Hand sanitizer meets the CDC requirements for being effective by having 62% alcohol present in their formula. It’s also made with aloe and witch hazel so it’s moisturizing and gentle for all skin types. There are no phthalates, mineral oil, dyes, or parabens present either!
If you love having a fresh scent after sanitizing, Everyone Hand Sanitizer spray contains essential oils for added fragrance. It’s formulated with 62%ethanol, is cruelty-free and EWG verified, making it super safe for little ones too!
Consumers love the fact that the Pipette sanitizing gel doesn’t dry out your hands and dries quickly! Their formula comes in a variety of sizes and only contains natural ingredients while being effective. They even have a natural line of baby products!
This non-toxic hand sanitizer formula is also natural and vegan! Made with organic aloe and vitamin E, it is gentle and non-irritating. You don’t have to worry about dyes, parabens, SLS, or artificial fragrances either! When using with children and babies, it’s totally safe but you should be sure to rub it in until it is completely dry.
What Does Hand Sanitizer Do?
It seems pretty straightforward…hand sanitizer sanitizes your hands, right? That’s correct, hand sanitizer eliminates bacteria on your hands, but how exactly does it work?
Hand sanitizer contains a type of alcohol, either ethyl or isopropyl, as an active ingredient to clean your hands. It kills up to 99% of bacteria and germs on your hands that can cause you to get sick. The alcohols destroy disease-causing bacteria called pathogens by breaking apart their proteins and splitting cells apart. Both regular and non-toxic hand sanitizers are effective in ridding your hands of pathogens due to their alcohol content. A strength of using alcohol in hand sanitizers is that bacteria don’t develop a resistance to it. This means alcohol doesn’t lose its effectiveness with continued use.
Ingredients All Hand Sanitizers Should Include
Aside from alcohol, there are a few other ingredients that all hand sanitizers should include to be effective. Whether it’s non-toxic hand sanitizer or conventional, you’ll probably find the following ingredients in them: thickeners, PH adjusters, moisturizing agents, and fragrance (although fragrances aren’t needed).
A thickening agent will usually be listed as ‘crosspolymers’ or ‘carbomers’ and simply turn liquid into a gel for easy use. PH adjusters include triethanolamine and aminomethyl propanol. These ingredients are non-toxic, FDA approved and used in low percentages.
Common moisturizing agents are vegetable glycerin, vitamin E, or aloe leaf juice, which help combat dryness caused by the alcohol. Lastly, fragrances, which not all sanitizers have, come from essential oils, natural fragrance oils, or synthetic fragrances (avoiding synthetic fragrances is best).
The CDC states that in order for hand sanitizers to be effective, they must contain at least a 60% alcohol content, so when shopping be sure to double the active ingredient list.
What’s Better: Soap and Water or Hand Sanitizer?
The age-old debate: is it better to use soap and water or hand sanitizer to clean your hands? Non-toxic hand sanitizers and regular ones eliminate some, but not all bacteria on the hands.
Hand sanitizers may not be as effective when your hands are visibly dirty or greasy either. For visibly clean hands, using hand sanitizer is a great option and definitely eliminates some bacteria on your hands.
However, soap and water are much more effective at removing all types of germs on the hands. This is due to more powerful ingredients in soap, the use of hot water, and that soap and water are typically used in larger volumes than hand sanitizer. See the best options for natural hand soap.
So, soap and water wins this debate. However, most hand sanitizers are effective in reducing the amount of germs and bacteria on your hands, and it’s a great on-the-go option.
Ultimately, both soap and water and hand sanitizers are always better than not washing your hands at all.
Ingredients to Avoid in Hand Sanitizer
Like most products we use, there are a few ingredients to avoid when using hand sanitizer. Whether it’s non-toxic hand sanitizer or not, be on the lookout for these ingredients: benzalkonium chloride, methanol, and synthetic fragrances.
Benzalkonium chloride is the main active ingredient in ‘alcohol-free’ sanitizers and simply isn’t that effective in reducing bacteria. Methanol isn’t an approved alcohol for use on the skin and is actually highly toxic. Lastly, synthetic fragrances often contain ingredients that can be irritating and harmful to your skin, and they may include a cocktail of other harmful ingredients (like phthalates) because brands don’t have to disclose what’s in them.
We love finding everyday products in a non-toxic alternative! Sometimes clean living can seem difficult and overwhelming! Our goal here at Nesting Naturally is to provide you with healthy solutions so natural living is a breeze for you and your family!