Non-Toxic Product Guides:
How To Choose A Non-Toxic Hand Sanitizer (& 3 Of Our Faves!)
Parents and teachers know that kids touch everything including, maybe especially, things we wish they wouldn’t. Handwashing, when done correctly, is incredibly effective at reducing our exposure to sickness-causing germs, but it’s not always easy to get kids to do it right. And every parent has those horrifying moments where there’s a level 11 germ incident and not a sink or soap anywhere within sight! Enter hand sanitizer – a simple, convenient way to kill germs and friend to all, right? Unfortunately, hand sanitizers can contain some harmful toxins and may be helping to promote resistant bacteria in our environment. Given that studies have shown that it can play an important role in reducing flu-causing germs in areas like pre-schools, and that it can be super helpful when you’re at the playground and your Little picks up a rotting squirrel carcass, having one in your arsenal may come in handy. Here’s what you need to know to find a non-toxic hand sanitizer and a few of our current favorites.
Top Ingredients To Avoid For A Non-Toxic Hand Sanitizer
Triclosan is a synthetic pesticide that’s often added to detergents and soaps and personal care products like deodorants and toothpastes because it has antibacterial properties, but it is important to note that it does not have the power to kill the viruses that cause colds and flus. In 2016, the FDA banned its use from antibacterial soaps, but the new regulation still permits its use in products outside of antibacterial hand soaps.
Triclosan has been associated with hormone disruption, cancer, liver damage and the development of super-germs. Avoid anything with triclosan or triclocarban on the label.
These two bad guys often go hand-in-hand, as phthalates help fragrances stick around longer. Find out a ton more about why we recommend you avoid fragrances (even natural ones!) in this post. The bottom line is that across multiple research studies, fragrance ingredients are classified as allergens, hormone disruptors, asthma triggers, neurotoxins and carcinogens. The fragrance industry regulates itself and manufacturers are not required to list their fragrance ingredients on product labels.
SLS and SLES are surfactants, which dissolve surface tension in water to help products like soaps and detergents foam. Unfortunately, they’re associated with a lot of health risks that range from skin, lung and eye irritation to organ toxicity, endocrine disruption and cancer. Click the links above to learn more about each of these must-avoid cleansing and emulsifying agents.
Parabens are preservatives and anti-microbial that are commonly used in cosmetics, personal care products and, sadly, some foods. They stop fungus and bacteria from growing in liquids, lotions and creams and help extend shelf life. They are linked to a multitude of health risks including cancer, endocrine disruption, reproductive toxicity, neurotoxicity and skin irritation. To avoid them, avoid ingredients ending in -paraben.
Alcohol-based antibacterial products are very popular, especially in schools and daycare centers. A common ingredient is ethyl alcohol (or ethanol), as in drinking or grain alcohol. It may sound crazy, but there are incidents every year of poisoning from young children accidentally imbibing hand sanitizers and even scary cases of teenagers purposefully drinking it. Yikes! These products are typically two thirds or more alcohol, which is frightening when you think about small children putting their hands in their mouths and the risk of alcohol poisoning. Another common alcohol-based ingredient is isopropyl alcohol, which is a neurotoxin as well as a dangerous eye and skin irritant.
3 Non-Toxic Hand Sanitizers We’re Loving Right Now
Our Top Pick: Elyptol Hand Sanitizer Gels and Sprays are made without triclosan, parabens, synthetic fragrances, glycols, chlorine, formaldehyde carriers, petrochemicals, or most common allergens and purported to kill 99.99% of germs. The company believes that frequency of use is what really measures sanitizing effectiveness, so they’ve designed their product for frequent use, so it’s gentle on the skin for people who need to reapply often, such as professional health workers.
Nobody’s perfect: This brand utilizes ethyl alcohol in their formulas, but their own strict restrictions on the quality of their products, as well as their EWG-verified status with the Environmental Working Group means that we feel good about using them topically. The concern with alcohol-containing formulas of hand sanitizer is more that they should never, ever be ingested and that parents should be vigilant to keep out of reach of children.
Babyganics Alcohol-free hand sanitizer, received a high safety rating from the Environmental Working Group. This alcohol-free formula is also fragrance-free which is one of the most important safety features for us. It’s formulated without parabens, sulfates, phthalates, artificial fragrances or dyes.
Nobody’s perfect: Since this formula doesn’t have alcohol, it utilizes a sanitizing agent called benzalkonium chloride, which may not be safer. With any hand sanitizer formula, alcohol-free or otherwise, it’s important to ensure children do not have access to it.
Everyone hand sanitizer is EWG Verified, meaning it has received the Environmental Working Group’s top rating for safety. While we usually choose fragrance-free options whenever possible, we like that this company has been through EWG-verification and that the fragrances are derived from essential oils. That said, if you’re sensitive or have allergies or asthma, we’d still recommend avoiding fragrance.
Nobody’s perfect: This formula does contain organic ethanol, alcohol derived from non-GMO sugar cane. The issue with alcohol’s toxicity is much more dangerous when it comes from ingesting the substance, versus on your skin. Because this formula has been vetted by the Environmental Working Group, we’re comfortable using and recommending it.
At Force of Nature, we believe that when it comes to non-toxic hand sanitizer, and every other product we use around our families, it’s important to learn as much as possible about ingredient safety. Check out resources like the EWG’s Product Ratings for hand sanitizers, and start learning about brands that are non-toxic and environmentally responsible. You can also learn more about our revolutionary cleaning system that’s as effective as bleach, but family (and pet!) friendly.