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.
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.
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.”