You use hand sanitizer to keep dangerous germs out, but you’re really inviting toxic chemicals in. Research proves that the active ingredient in hand sanitizer is an endocrine disruptor(1), easily absorbed through your skin, and might be linked to cancer. Its name? Triclosan.
Hand sanitizer companies use triclosan as an antibacterial agent; it is, after all, effective in killing many types of bacteria. Triclosan is also used in other hygienic products such as toothpaste and soaps. On the label, it may also be called (2):
- Irgasan DP 300
- Microshield T
Health Dangers of Triclosan
While triclosan has yet to be classified as a confirmed human carcinogen, scientists have suggested potential links to hormone-related cancers such as breast cancer, ovarian cancer, and prostate cancer (4). As an endocrine disruptor, triclosan interferes with the body’s normal hormone systems- sometimes with deadly effects.
HM Lee, head researcher of a 2016 scientific paper writes, “the majority of previous studies revealed that BPA, phthalates, TCDD, and triclosan have the potential to induce cancer metastasis…the exposure to these EDCs [endocrine disrupting chemicals] can increase the risk aggravating the disease for the patients suffering cancer and that more regulations about the use of these EDCs are needed,” (4).
But can these risks really come from using hand sanitizer? The answer, unfortunately is yes. Research shows that triclosan can be easily stored up by your body over time. A 2016 study uncovered that triclosan was found in both water supplies and in humans- in blood, urine, breast milk, and even nails. Head researcher LWB Olaniyan states that this bioaccumulation of triclosan in the body is a cause for concern, especially since triclosan ” is a pro-oxidant and may be cytotoxic via a number of mechanisms,” (1).
The dangers aren’t just for adults who make a habit of using hand sanitizers over the years. There is a “window” of time that makes young, developing children more susceptible to the effects of endocrine disrupting products. A 2016 study done on rats raised concerns about children’s and adolescents’ use of personal products containing triclosan (as well as other dangerous additives like phthalates). Head researcher Sander Houten writes about the potential dangers for humans: “the prepubertal stage is the most sensitive window of opportunity for these personal care product ingredients,” (3).
The Most Effective Homemade Hand Sanitizer
The truth is you don’t need an antibacterial soap or product to protect yourself from harmful germs! In a 2007 study, scientists proved that soaps containing triclosan were actually no more effective at reducing bacteria and preventing infections than regular soap. Not to mention, many strains of bacteria had evolved to be immune to triclosan’s antibacterial effects anyway (5).
The bottom line is you don’t need to waste money on toxic hand sanitizers to stay health- all you need is a bar of soap to keep your hands clean. However, if you’re looking for a natural antibacterial to carry around with you, you can easily make your own “sanitizer” out of essential oils and natural ingredients.
Eucalyptus and tea tree essential oils are proven antimicrobials (without being toxic or endocrine disrupting) (6). They can easily be mixed with natural aloe vera gel, another antibacterial agent (7). Aloe also has the added benefit of being naturally soothing, able to reduce skin redness, and even increase skin elasticity (8,9).
- 1/4 cup Aloe Vera Gel
- 10 Drops of Tea Tree Oil
- 10 Drops Eucalyptus Oil
1. Mix all ingredients together.
2. Pour into a spray bottle or a pump type bottle.
3. Shake before applying
Always do a “spot test” using a small amount of the essential oil mixture to test for skin irritation. Cinnamon essential oil is an especially common irritant.