How to Choose Toxic Chemical Free Hand Soap

chemical free hand soap

What parent doesn’t melt when their kids bring home macaroni art and pipe cleaner animals from school? But sometimes they bring home stuff that’s not as cute – like the latest virus making the playground rounds. With the school year underway, halting the spread of sickness at school and around the office is on a lot of parents’ minds, and effective handwashing is a great first line of defense against bugs. The Center for Disease Control refers to handwashing as a “do-it-yourself vaccine,” for being such a powerful way to “remove germs, avoid getting sick, and prevent the spread of germs to others.” Unfortunately, the hand soaps we use to try to stay healthy commonly contain toxic substances that can harm our health. Even hand soaps labelled as “natural” commonly contain toxic ingredients because there are no federal regulations stipulating criteria for personal care products labeled as “natural”. That means even hand soaps that seem to be innocent enough with their flowers & fruits often still contain chemicals associated with health risks like:

  • hormone disruption
  • organ, developmental & neurotoxicity
  • allergies & asthma

The good news is that it’s actually fairly easy to choose a safer, toxic chemical free hand soap. We’re getting you started with your handy hitlist of the top 6 chemicals to avoid.

How to Choose a Toxic Chemical Free Hand Soap: Top 6 Ingredients to Avoid

1. Fragrances

Most hand soaps contain fragrances. You can see the word “fragrance” listed on product labels, but it is impossible to know what that means because the fragrance industry isn’t required to disclose the ingredients used in their products.  This means there could be hundreds of ingredients in one fragrance. Why should you be concerned? Fragrances are absorbed through the skin and into the bloodstream where they pose health risks including endocrine disruption, organ toxicity, allergies, asthma, neurotoxicity and cancer. Fragrances also frequently contain phthalates (which won’t be listed on labels), which are associated with hormone disruption, birth defects and developmental toxicity. Even “natural” fragrances aren’t safe to use because they can trigger allergies & can also contain phthalates. Given fragrances don’t add to the efficacy of your hand soap and introduce some scary health risks, we think they are well worth avoiding.

2. Parabens

Parabens are preservatives that are used in a wide array of different personal care products in the United States, including hand soaps. They mimic the behavior of estrogen in the body and are associated with endocrine disruption, cancer, and developmental toxicity. They are also toxic to the environment. To avoid parabens, avoid hand soap containing ingredients ending in –paraben.

3. Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLES)

Sodium Laureth Sulfate is used as a surfactant and emulsifier to add foaming & sudsing benefits in hand soaps. The health concerns with this are organ system toxicity and irritation of the skin, eyes, and lungs. Even more concerning is the contaminant that can form as a by-product of the manufacturing process called 1,4-dioxane. This nasty chemical is a known carcinogen.

4. Methylisothiazolinone & Methylchloroisothiazolinone

Methylisothiazolinone & methylchloroisothiazolinone are preservatives used to inhibit bacteria growth in lots of personal care products including hand soaps. Some of the health risks associated with these preservatives include skin irritation, lung and respiratory issues and neurotoxicity. When you’re searching for toxic chemical free hand soaps, make sure to check for this common preservative, as sometimes they are used in more “natural” products to replace other nasty preservatives, like parabens.

5. Triclosan

Triclosan is a substance that’s used as an antibacterial agent in hand soaps. You’ve probably read that the FDA finally banned this nasty one in Sept 2016 and gave manufacturers 1 year to either re-formulate or pull their product using this chemical from the market. That means that you probably shouldn’t have to watch out for it too much longer, but we felt we’d be remiss if we didn’t mention it. Risks are that it can accumulate over time in the body and cause hormonal imbalances and organ system toxicity.

Learn More

At Force of Nature, we’re dedicated to not just helping families avoid toxic chemicals in their household cleaners, but also to helping you find the right resources to educate you on how to reduce your family’s exposure to toxic chemicals. The Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep product database is a great resource to help you identify toxic ingredients in the products you use and to find new, safer products. And you have another germ-fighter in your arsenal with Force of Nature, our cleaning appliance that uses electricity to convert salt, water & vinegar into a multi-purpose cleaner, deodorizer and EPA registered disinfectant. Force of Nature is safe to use on just about any surface in your home and is free from harmful chemicals. Even though it has no toxic fumes or residues, Force of Nature kills viruses and bacteria as effectively as bleach. It’s planet-friendly too because it completely eliminates single-use plastic bottles. It’s Carbon Neutral and Green Seal certified. Learn more about the Force of Nature technology called electrolyzed water.

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