Hand Sanitizer Alternatives with Recipes
Following is a list of my recommended alternatives to chemical hand sanitizer:
- Plain Ol’ Soap: Repeat after me: ALL SOAP IS ANTIBACTERIAL. Soap does not require the addition of chemicals to be antibacterial. Multiple studies have been done to prove this. Researchers at The University of Michigan reviewed the results from 27 different studies that measured the antibacterial effectiveness of antibacterial soaps compared to regular soaps. The researchers concluded that antibacterial soaps do not kill any more bacteria than regular soap. (They also concluded the studies proved antibacterial soaps may contribute to antibiotic resistant bacteria.)
The number of bacteria killed by soap is dependent on how long the soap is in contact with the skin. More bacteria are killed the longer the soap is in contact with the skin. A good rule is to wash your hands long enough to sing “The Birthday Song” twice. (I recommend singing it in your head instead of out loud, but you do what’s best for you.)
- Essential Oils: Essential oils are aromatic plant oils that are distilled or extracted from plant material. These are the oils that are used in Aromatherapy. The medicinal content of essential oils is so potent I confess I don’t care for the term “Aromatherapy” because I don’t feel it adequately portrays the medicinal strength of essential oils. Many essential oils are known to be strongly antibacterial, antiviral and antifungal. If you are unfamiliar with essential oils, I recommend purchasing pre-made products. Although essential oils are 100% natural, they do need to be treated with respect. The essential oils I mention in this post are generally safe for use when safely diluted. There are many other antibacterial essential oils, but I have not listed those which can burn the skin or which are highly irritating.PLEASE note that most essential oils must be diluted before being applied to the skin and that very few essential oils are suitable for internal use.The following essential oils are known to be among the strongest in terms of antibacterial and antiviral strength. (Most of these are also antifungal): Oregano, Tea Tree, Rosemary, Lavender, Thyme, Lemon and Eucalyptus. These essential oils can be blended as you prefer to create more appealing scents, but should always be diluted to a minimum of 3% before being applied to the skin. This equates to 10 drops of combined essential oils per ounce (2 tablespoons) of carrier product.An interesting blend of highly-antibacterial and antiviral essential oils is called the “Four Thieves Blend.” The blend typically includes Clove, Lemon, Cinnamon, Rosemary and Eucalyptus essential oils. Please note that Cinnamon essential oil is very strong and may burn the skin on contact. It must be handled carefully.The name of the blend stems from thieves in the 15th century who used a blend of the oils to protect themselves from the plague while they robbed the dead and dying. After they were caught, the thieves exchanged the blend’s recipe in exchange for a lesser punishment.If you want to make your own thieves blend, blend the indicated oils in equal amounts. Many pre-made blends are available. The beauty of the four thieves blend is that it can be blended into aloe vera gel to make a hand sanitizer, can be spritzed into the hand and inhaled to help kill inhaled microbes, or can be blended with witch hazel to make an antibacterial spray. (See recipes that follow.)ESSENTIAL OIL ANTIBACTERIAL RECIPES
These recipes are quick and easy to make. You can either purchase the essential oils from any health food store or click the links shown above to purchase from Amazon. The size of each recipe can be increased or decreased (halved, doubled, tripled, etc.) if the amount of each ingredient is proportionally modified.
World’s Simplest Hand Sanitizing Gel
4 oz aloe vera gel (Find one without chemical additives. Click the link to view my favorite.)
36 drops Tea Tree Essential Oil*
Thoroughly blend gel with essential oil. Can safely be packaged in a purse-sized containers for use.
*You can also blend 36 drops of any of the antibacterial oils shown above.
Essential Oil Antibacterial Spray
You can use rubbing alcohol as the carrier, but be aware rubbing alcohol contains unwanted chemicals and will affect the odor of the product. If you want to use the most antibacterial alcohol, pick up a bottle of Everclear. (Please only use for toiletries. I don’t advise drinking it.)
That’s it! Do you make your own antibacterial products using essential oils? What are your favorite blends? Please share!
Consumer Antibacterial Soaps: Effective or Just Risky, Clinical Infectious Diseases, August, 2007.