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We’re surrounded by hand sanitizers everywhere we go but are they really helping? Do they provide an adequate substitute for washing with soap and water? Are they safe?

Not a Good Substitute
Washing with soap and water is by far the superior choice. Non-alcohol based hand sanitizers contain the main antibacterial ingredient triclosan. Unfortunately, triclosan does not protect you against viruses or fungi. Even worse, when it comes in contact with bacteria, the bacteria becomes “antibiotic resistant.”

Effects of Triclosan
Research has shown that triclosan can disrupt the endocrine system, amplifying testosterone. Triclosan is linked to liver and inhalation toxicity, and low levels of triclosan may disrupt thyroid function.

A U.S. FDA advisory committee has found that household use of antibacterial products provides no benefits over plain soap and water, and the American Medical Association recommends that triclosan not be used in the home, as it may encourage bacterial resistance to antibiotics.

Alcohol-Based Sanitizers Okay
Not all hand sanitizers are created equal. Hand sanitizers containing at least 60% alcohol are safe and effective at killing bacteria. They kill some viruses but not all, such as noroviruses. As a result, alcohol-based sanitizers provide a good alternative in a pinch but washing your hands with soap and water is always best.

Homemade Hand Sanitizer
1/3 c aloe vera gel
2/3 c alcohol at least 60% (90% highly recommended)
10 drops of your favorite essential oil (optional)

Mix aloe vera and alcohol in small bowl. Add 10 drops of essential oil and stir. Place in plastic container to store. Lasts up to 6 months.

To learn more about what you can do to stay well this Fall, go here.


Guide to Triclosan, Environmental Working Group, available at http://www.ewg.org/research/ewgs-guide-triclosan
Is Hand Sanitizer Toxic?, CNN Health, available at http://www.cnn.com/2013/10/16/health/hand-sanitizer-toxic-upwave/index.html?hpt=he_bn3

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