Why Purell Ain’t So Pure: Hand Sanitizers 101 (What’s Healthy and What’s Not)

A breakdown on the perfect (and eco-conscious) sanitizers for your baby’s little paws



I’m happy to report that after just one week of potty-training, Coraline is 95% there — she’s down to one or no accidents a day, and asks to sit on the potty even when she’s in her overnight diaper. It’s very exciting. Of course, now that we have the “going” part down, there are all sorts of other potty-related things to work on, like the importance of washing hands, and explaining why her favorite stuffed cat is not an appropriate thing to wipe her hiney with.

At home, hand washing is easy (just make sure you’re using a soap that doesn’t contain triclosan, which promotes the growth of superbugs, can effect your thyroid, and contaminates water). Out and about, the whole washing-hands thing can get tricky, especially if you’re carrying a potty with you everywhere for emergencies between the swings and sandbox. Hand sanitizer is the obvious answer, although you have to be careful: Conventional hand sanitizers like Purell contain more alcohol (60%) than your average bottle of vodka (40%), which, in all fairness, is how much is needed to kill germs. But it also contains nasty inactive ingredients like glycerin, phthalate-ridden synthetic fragrance, and propylene gycol (also used to make antifreeze). While the alcohol should evaporate off the skin almost immediately, the other ingredients remain on the skin where they can end up in little mouths, eyes, or elsewhere.

The good news is there are a lot of effective, kid-friendly, and remarkably pleasant natural hand sanitizers on the market. EO sanitizers and wipes (which are great for little hands) come in yummy scents like lavender, while Cleanwell uses thyme oil instead of alcohol to kill germs; both can be found at Mother Earth’s Storehouse in Saugerties, Poughkeepsie, and Kingston. My newly-discovered favorite are Herban Essentials towelettes, which contain naturally antibacterial essential oils and little else, and come in uplifting scents like eucalyptus, lemon, or orange; you can find these at Bodhi Holistic Spa in Hudson or the Valley’s newest natural parenting store, Illuminated Baby, in Woodstock.

» Read more potty-training stories from Mama Greenest
» Read more from Mama Greenest, our health and parenting blog
» Read more on Hudson Valley Health
» Read more on Hudson Valley Kids

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One mom's plan to raise a kid — without raising greenhouse gases

About This Blog

Shannon Gallagher

Shannon Gallagher
Rhinebeck, NY


Dutchess County native Shannon Gallagher is a contributing editor for Hudson Valley Magazine. An erstwhile thrill-seeker, these days she courts disaster of a different variety wrangling a spirited toddler, honing her vegan baking skills, and chasing the ever-elusive work-family balance. She teaches Pilates and does fascial bodywork, and lives in Rhinebeck with Coraline, a cat named Otie, and Sushi the Fish (named, of course, by the toddler).

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