Thursday, March 11, 2010

Pass me the hand sanitizer...NOT!

Don’t you love those purse-sized hand sanitizers? Ever since the threat of H1N1 hit the news, more and more people have been relying on them to keep their families germ-free. Coupled with anti-bacterial soaps, we’re all feeling a bit more secure.

But did you know that one of the common ingredients in hand sanitizers and anti-bacterial soaps can cause damage to your liver and kidneys? Not only that, but triethanolamine may also be a culprit in the rise of super-strains of antibiotic-resistant bacteria. Not good. Not good at all.

Triclosan is another ingredient you want to avoid, as it’s been linked to the dioxin, a highly carcinogenic chemical that can lead to a variety of health problems, including:

• Decreased fertility
• Altered sex hormones
• Birth defects
• Cancer

In addition, exposure to triclosan can actually weaken the immune system, making you, and your little ones, more susceptible to infection.

This discovery is seriously bumming me out. I, personally, love the little hand sanitizers from Bath and Body Works and use them religiously. I even handed them out as a favor at my daughter, Jessica’s baby shower. And my currently pregnant daughter, Bethany, is always popping a bottle out of her purse to ward off the germs.

What should you do? Well, once again, I’m going to steer you toward essential oils for a natural alternative to chemically-laden anti-bacterial products, some of which are showing promising results at fighting off germs and killing off bacteria, viruses and staff.

Shop for soaps that contain essential oils, yet do not have the terrible Ts (triethanolamine and triclosan) listed with the ingredients. Here I go again, touting the benefits of eucalyptus oil, but its antimicrobial properties are natural and effective. Look for citrus oils, cinnamon leaf, clove bud, lavender, peppermint, rosemary, tea tree and/or thyme.

The key to killing germs is frequent hand washing and it’s never too early to teach your children that.

For a list of brand name products containing triclosan, visit Grinning Planet. This comprehensive list includes not only soaps, but children’s toys, kitchenware and more.

Keeping it green and healthy,


There are some companies who produce hand sanitizers without the use of the triclosan or triethanolamine, such as Purell. However these use alcohol which can be drying to the skin (beats damage to the liver). Don't confuse tocopheryl acetate with the terrible's just a fancy name for Vitamin E! 


  1. I am going through my house looking for the T's! I've always been told to watch my consumption of antibacterial products and now I know why!

  2. Hi Hana, thanks for blogging about the dangers of triclosan. We're working to ban this pesticide from our personal care products! Please take the anti-triclosan pledge!

  3. Something I do once a year is stock up on homemade soaps that are soy based at my cities Christmas craft sale. You can find all kinds of wonderful naturally fragranced soaps, a much larger variety than any cosmetics department or soap aisle at Wal-mart or Target.

  4. Holy cow!! I'm glad I trusted my gut instinct and avoided hand sanitizers since day one. I already have bad kidneys!!! Good ol' soap and water have always done it for me.


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