Dr. Bronner's

My Hand Sanitizer – Armed and Ready

My Hand Sanitizer – Armed and Ready

We have become a society that is addicted to hand sanitizer, so I want you to read this disclaimer: Hand sanitizer does not replace handwashing with soap and water if available. Soap and water is more effective and if it is feasible to wash with soap and water, please do so.*

However, the hand sanitizer is a must when my ducklings exit the grocery store where they’ve touched every part of the cart and run their hands on the check out conveyer belt and picked up a penny from the parking lot and handled the pack of ground beef we bought and then ask, “Mom, can I have a snack?”

Although the Directions for Use should be pretty obvious, let me mention that it is best if the hand sanitizer is wet on the skin for 10-15 seconds for maximum effectiveness. So, give the hands a good spray and wait a moment before handling the snack.

Additional Uses

The uses for hand sanitizer do not stop with the obvious. While I wouldn’t recommend these applications on a large scale due to cost, there are a few other things I’ve used my hand sanitizer for when I’m out and about. There are many, many more uses for rubbing alcohol around the house, but to keep our wallets happy, you really should just buy a larger bottle of organic ethyl alcohol for those purposes. But, on the go, I’ve used Dr. Bronner’s Organic Hand Sanitizer for:

  • Cleaning my son’s glasses. I never seem to notice until we are very far from home that my 8 year old’s glasses are fuzzy with grime. Alcohol is not the best thing to use on glasses regularly, but it works in a pinch.
  • Spraying off public surfaces that must be touched – I’ve done grocery cart handles, airplane trays, steering wheels, diaper changing trays, even toilet seats. This is not a cost-effective measure, I am well aware, but again, it works in a pinch.
  • Quick relief from a mosquito bite – it really cools the sting.
  • Eliminating stickiness. There’s a lot of sticky in my life. We leave the house non-sticky and arrive at our destination sticky. I don’t know how it happens – sticky hands, sticky keys, sticky phones, which segues nicely to…
  • Cleaning phone screens. Do this with care because liquid and electronics don’t mix, so spray a tissue and then wipe the phone. As with my son’s glasses, I am much more prone to notice filthiness on my phone when I’m far from home – I think it’s that public humiliation of, “What will they think of me when they see my phone?!?!” Not really. But still…
  • This one is from a friend who uses it regularly – as an underarm deodorant, but not right after shaving.

A Rundown of Ingredients

This will be quick because there are only four: Organic Ethanol, Water, Organic Glycerin, and Organic Lavender or Peppermint Oil. All ingredients but the water (which is un-organic-able) are certified under the National Organic Program (NOP), which certifies organic food.

Organic Ethanol (62%) – NOP standards include a non-GMO policy, so this ethanol is from non-genetically modified cane sugar. Ethanol, also known as ethyl alcohol or the alcohol you drink, is an effective antiseptic. Isopropyl alcohol is the other one, which is made from propane. Hand sanitizers generally are alcohol-based or triclosan-based. (Any hand sanitizer that has a “natural” sanitizing claim has not been verified by the FDA.) So why do we use alcohol and not triclosan? First off, triclosan isn’t and can’t be organic. Second, the effectiveness of triclosan in killing germs is in dispute.** Lastly, triclosan is also repeatedly being credited with contributing the formation of antibiotic resistant superbugs.

Water – Not in there as a cost saving measure, water dilutes the alcohol so that it won’t dry out our skin and to aid the penetrability of the alcohol into the cells of germs. Before you ask, alcohol will not penetrate human skin which is too thick and the alcohol evaporates too quickly.

Dr. Bronner's hand sanitizer protects when you can't wash your hands.

Organic Glycerin – Glycerin is a natural humectant which draws moisture into the skin, further countering the drying nature of alcohol.

Organic Lavender Oil – The lavender oil is used to denature, or make undrinkable, the alcohol. This is necessary to keep curious little people or mischievous big people from consuming the hand sanitizer. (You should still not leave the hand sanitizer in the hands of Untrustables.) It also keeps the product from needing an alcohol tax. This addresses the question, Can we make an unscented hand sanitizer?  No, we can’t. It is legally necessary that we put something really untasty – though still organic and non-toxic per our own standards – in the formulation. And since your next question will be, why don’t we make other scents of hand sanitizers, there are a few other essential oils that are permitted for denaturing, but we also have to consider safety to skin, cost, and demand.

While it’s a must-have for a diaper bag, stroller, or a mother’s purse, I know I’ll be carrying this far past my child-rearing days. And, as this was recently relevant to me, with a 2 oz. bottle, it is OK to carry it on to an airplane.

* Check out one of my previous posts, “Who Gave Soap a Bad Name.”

** Check out NBC’s “Think Twice about Antibacterial Soap, FDA Says.”

Further reading

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joe says:

Being that this is organic I was curious if it can double as a face mist?/face refresher?

Lisa Bronner says:

Hi Joe – You’ve sent me on a research mission. I was not familiar with facial mists and I see I was quite out of the loop. It looks like one of the main purposes of facial mists is to moisturize. Since the main ingredient in the hand sanitizer is alcohol, which is a solvent and evaporator, this would do the opposite. I don’t think it would be a good option for a facial mist. But I do appreciate learning about this!

Emke says:

Hi Lisa,

I was wondering if I can use this spray to spray on my pillow for a better sleep (lavender really calms me down), or is this not a good idea with the alcohol?


Diane Schule says:

I am confused: I had understood that shampoo, in the detergent family, is more acidic than soap, which is alkaline. Whenever I’ve tried to use Castile soap on my hair, it leaves it gummy, sticky, and oily looking. I would like to use Dr. Bonner products for their organics and economy, but I’m confused about the statement that the more acidic Sol Suds should not be used for hair. Can the Castile Soap really be used as shampoo? I see the note to rinse it with the diluted acidic rinse. I’m having a hard time seeing that counteracting the state my hair was on previous attempts.

Kathy says:

I love your blog and all the Dr. Bronner products! I do, however, feel it important to mention that what you wrote about alcohol not penetrating the skin is incorrect. I have spent the past year heavily involved with a community drug and alcohol rehab center and a common complaint from patients who take medication to control their alcoholism is a lack of alcohol free hand sanitizers. The medication they take will cause them to become very sick if they ingest alcohol, even a small amount absorbed through the skin will cause them to be violently ill for hours. They run into this problem with deodorants as well. So please know that, yes, alcohol can be and is absorbed through human skin.

Brooke says:

Best hand sanitizer EVER! !!. Only one that doesn’t leave my hands icky and feeling like they need to be washed. Love it.

Lisa Bronner says:

HI Lynnita – Yes, the castile soap makes a great laundry soap – 1/3 to 1/2 cup in a full load of a traditional machine. You can add 1/2 c. of baking soda for extra freshening and whitening. The Sal Suds is a mild, non-toxic detergent instead of a soap. It is not meant for the body. It is more clean rinsing and slightly more effective of a cleaner than the castile soap. However, it is not organic because some of the ingredients are too synthesized, although still from quality sources.

All the best,

lynnita ellis says:

i have been using the liquid castile lavender and hemp 18 in one. Is this exceptable for making the laundry detergent? Also, what are sal suds and how does that product differ from the liquid castile?

Lisa Bronner says:

Thanks, Judy, for checking out that talk on GMO’s! So much work to do there.

Barb – I love it! Great idea!

April – I will pass that request along to my brothers. I don’t know what their plans are on expanding the line.

All the best,

April says:

I desperately wish for a mint or citrus hand sanitizer ,Lavender gives me a terrible headache,and after one purchase of the lavender hand sanitizer I had to give it away and not repurchase.I love Dr.Bronner products and would be thrilled to add sanitizer to my lineup.

Barb says:

I love this spray, and I’ve got a new use for it. I’ve started teaching myself guitar and my fingers hurt a lot. I started spraying my finger tips with this before and after practicing and the pain is so much better. I can practice for an extra half hour after using this. Amazing stuff.

Judy, language teacher, Lyme Regis, Dorset UK says:

Thanks for your posts on toilet cleaning and hand sanitizing! I’ve got to get some Dr. Bronner’s hand sanitizer; it has so many uses. I don’t live in the US, but know I can find it in the UK. I learned about Dr. Bronners when I was 17, loved it and the wonderful label! That was about 40 years ago. I found your blog today after listening to your talk with Stacy Malkin on GMO’s: What You Need to Know. A great talk and eye opening series!

AB says:

I love to have it in my car and do a quick clean (dash board and my hands) while waiting for a red light. And, on the golf course, god only know what chemicals/fertilizers the golf ball picks up during a round fo golf….

Lisa Bronner says:

Another use! Bubble gum! My very talented son blew an enormous bubble that popped all over his face and neck. It left gum stickiness in a big circle, which I think he considered a badge of honor. Nonetheless, I wanted to remove it and in this case, soap doesn’t work. I sprayed some hand sanitizer on a tissue and rubbed the gum. Off it came! (Please don’t spray hand sanitizer directly on the face.)

Janelle says:

Thank you for adding another product to my must-have!!
We already use your soap for everything for my kids, my body and even shampoo (mixed with other stuff)and my husband too! I love knowing it is safe!!

Now to go find some hand sanitizer. Thank you for sharing!!!

Lisa Bronner says:

Love the comments here!

Linda – Thanks for the poison ivy tip! I hope I’ll never need to use that piece of advice, but it is great to know!

Lauren – Excellent thought for the white board and definitely for the port-a-potty!

Kristie – It works for that, too! In fact that’s mentioned on the product page on the Dr. Bronner’s website that it makes a great room spray. Enjoy!

All the best,

Kristie says:

I received a bottle of your hand sanitizer for Christmas – I didn’t look at the label and was using it as a room spray until yesterday!!! It worked delightfully – cat box odors, musty bedrooms and more were refreshed by hand sanitizer spritzes!

Lauren S. says:

This might be an even stranger one than the deoderant– but I even use it to get the old marker stains off our office whiteboard!

But for its main purpose– sanitizing — I keep a bottle in just about every backpack and bag I own. Love this stuff!

And it’s especially great for outdoor art and music festivals, or just any place where you might need to use a port-a-potty.

Linda says:

I have used your hand sanitizer while out hiking and the kids have accidentally brushed up in poison ivy. I have read that rubbing alcohol can clean the poison ivy oil off the skin. I spray it onto the skin and then try to wipe off with a clean towel or piece of clothing.

About Lisa Bronner

My grandfather was Dr. Bronner, my family makes soap, and I share ways to use it plus tips on greener living.

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