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4 Hidden Dangers of Commercial Hand Sanitisers (and how to make a toxin-free hand sanitiser)

Image from Health Line

What are hand sanitisers?

Hand sanitiser, also known as hand antiseptic, or hand rub, is used to remove common pathogens when there is no time or no access to soap and warm water for handwashing. It is commonly available in either a gel, foam or liquid form, which works by sitting on your skin and killing the germs on contact before the alcohol evaporates. It is commonly employed as an easy tool to combat means of infection in officers, day-care centres,  schools, hospitals and health care clinics.

What should you look out for in a hand sanitiser?

The brand and type of sanitiser does not matter. What you should look out for, is the type of active ingredient and its concentration, as these affect the amount of microbes the hand sanitiser can eliminate from the surface. An effective hand sanitiser should contain around 62–70% alcohol, since the alcohol is the main germ killer.

Do you know?
The way you use the hand sanitiser also affects its effectiveness against . You need to pump enough hand sanitiser (around the size of a 20c coin) for your hands to be sufficiently wet. This amount of hand sanitiser will take about 15 to 20 seconds for it to evaporate and dry.

Image from His Packaging

Hand sanitiser vs hand wash debate; which is more effective?

Research has shown that while hand sanitiser is effective at reducing germs, only hand washing with soap effectively kills and removes germs. Aside from that, hand washing also removes grime, debris, and fungi spores that could make one sick.

Do you know?
The friction from lathering and Soap (at least 20s) helps to loosen the pathogens’ ability to grip onto the skin, while the water rinse them away. Wash your hands properly with the following steps:
(1) Wet your hands;
(2) Lather your hands and fingers (check your nails if you have long fingernails) with plenty of soap;
(3) Scrub for 20 seconds or more;
(4). Rinse your hands again with running water and;
(5) Dry your hands completely with a clean towel. 

Why are commercial hand sanitisers unsafe?

If you are a cleanliness-obsessed germophobe,  who use hand sanitiser regularly, then you should be aware that commercial hand sanitisers can have a negative impact on our health. Here are 4 reasons why:

1. Promotes antibiotic resistance
Triclosan, one of the most common active ingredients marketed as antibacterial, is actually a controversial antibacterial agent. This is because studies have shown that Triclosan is linked to the development of “superbugs.” As a result, Triclosan is banned by the FDA. Furthermore, Triclosan is only effective against bacteria and not viruses.

2. Interferes with hormones and weaken our immune system
Aside from promoting “superbugs”, Triclosan also disrupts the immune system function by interfering with our hormones. When this happens, we can expect a “host of issues, including early puberty, poor sperm quality, infertility, obesity, and cancer“.

3. Increased exposure to Bisphenol-A
When the immune system is compromised, we will also be more susceptible to absorbing Bisphenol A (BPA), a toxic chemical which is found in plastics and widely used on receipts to adhere ink to the paper. In fact, BPA absorbed through the skin is remains in the blood longer.

4. Exposure to unknown chemicals
Due to its immerse popularity, hand sanitisers are now available in various kinds of fragrances. As the manufacturers are not mandated to declare the fragrance ingredients they used, you are exposing yourself to other unknown harmful chemicals which can cause allergies, dermatitis and respiratory problems.

How to make a natural hand sanitiser with 3 ingredients in 4 simple steps

Whip up your very own toxin-free hand sanitiser is much safer and cheaper. Furthermore, it is not difficult to D.I.Y the hand sanitiser, since all the essential ingredients listed below can be found at most pharmacy outlets.

Tip: The Isopropyl alcohol can be purcahsed at the Value dollar stores at $5.95.

Note:
(1) An effective hand sanitiser should contain around 62–70% of rubbing alcohol to be effective against germs;
(2) Essential oils can also be a skin irritant when they are used undiluted and;
(3) * Essential oils can break down plastic over time and hence, it is recommended to use the hand sanitiser within a few weeks.

What you will need

1. Moisturizing
Aloe Vera Gel
Used to treat dry itchy skin due to eczema due to its moisturizing properties.

2. Antibacterial and Antimicrobial
Tea Tree Oil
Also known as melaleuca oil, is an essential oil distilled from the leaves of the native Australian plant Melaleuca alternifolia. It is well known for its antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, antiviral, and antifungal properties.

Lavender Essential Oil
Known for antimicrobial and antibacterial properties, was widely used as an antibacterial in World War I.

3. Antiseptic – Isopropyl Alcohol
Also known as rubbing alcohol, it is a clear, flammable liquid that belongs to the same family of compounds as alcoholic drinks. 70% concentration is used as medical antiseptic solutions as it is not too harsh to the skin. Higher percentages (i.e. 99% Isopropyl alcohol), are only meant for household cleaning and disinfecting solutions.

Tools

2 Glass Bottles (same size)
1 Mixing bowl
1 Spatula
1 Funnel
1 Plastic bottle with pump or squirt top

Step 1:
Fill up 1/3 (to achieve 33%) of the glass bottle with the Aloe Vera gel and fill up 2/3  (to achieve 66%) of another glass bottle with 70% Isopropyl alcohol.

Step 2:

Pour the contents of both glass bottles into the mixing bowl.

Step 3:

1 drop of Tea Tree oil* and 2 drops of Lavender essential oil* into the mixture. Use the spatula to mix all the ingredients thoroughly.

Step 4:
Using a funnel to pour the mixture into the plastic bottle. Store in a cool, dry place and shake gently to mix before each use!

 

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