Inside: What I use instead of conventional hand sanitizer, and what I buy when I don’t want to make my own.
Certain microbes in dirt make us healthier, smarter, and even happier, and kids actually need exposure to germs in order to train the immune system. (1) That’s why I love this quote . . .
First child eats dirt – parent calls the doctor. Second child eats dirt. Parent cleans out mouth. Third child eats dirt. Parent wonders if she really needs to feed him lunch.” – Unknown
But y’all, even I have my limits, and my kids have FOUND. THEM. ALL.
When hand washing is not an option – whether that’s because we’re camping or in an airplane with a bathroom waiting area that looks like a conga line – I use this homemade hand sanitizer.
It’s inspired by a recipe found in Treatment Alternatives For Children, which was written by holistic pediatrician Lawrence Rosen, MD. However, because I prefer a gel rather than a spray, I increased the amount of aloe and cut out the water in the original recipe. I also substituted the suggested essential oils with ones from this child-safe list based on recommendations from Essential Oil Safety, which was published after Dr. Rosen’s book was released. The oils I chose have similar therapeutic actions, but are ones I feel more comfortable using with children.
Why avoid most store-bought hand sanitizers?
Although triclosan is still used in some antibacterial products, it’s no longer approved for use in commercial hand sanitizers due to potential health effects. That’s a big step in the right direction. Unfortunately, many products still include ingredients such as benzalkonium chloride, which is considered a moderate hazard by the Environmental Working Group (EWG). They also often contain fragrances that the EWG ranks as moderate to high hazard.
What if you don’t want to make your own?
Dr. Bronner’s make a hand sanitizer spray with clean ingredients – you can find it here.
About The Essential Oils In This Recipe
All of the essential oils in this recipe are considered appropriate for children over two.
If you only have (or want to purchase) a couple of these oils, that’s okay! Tea tree oil and lavender oil would be my choice – just make sure you include 15 drops total. One important thing to note is that cinnamon leaf can be irritated if used in concentrations above 0.6%, so it should be limited to 9 drops per batch.
Homemade Hand Cleansing Gel
- 3 tbsp aloe vera gel
- 2 tbsp vodka (or rubbing alcohol)
- 3 drops tea tree essential oil
- 3 drops fir needle essential oil (or marjoram essential oil)
- 3 drops cinnamon leaf essential oil (not cinnamon bark)
- 3 drops sweet orange essential oil (or grapefruit or lemon essential oil)
- 3 drops lavender essential oil
- In a small bowl, combine aloe vera and essential oils. Stir, then add in the alcohol and stir again until well-combined. Pour mixture into silicone squeeze bottles and place in your bag/purse for on-the-go use.
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