Is Hand Sanitizer a Good Replacement for Handwashing With Soap?

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

Adobe Stock / Tradol

Here’s what you need to know about the gel vs. soap debate.

At home, handwashing 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.


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Hand sanitizer is the obvious answer, although you have to be careful: Conventional hand sanitizers like Purell contain more alcohol (60 percent or more) than your average bottle of vodka (40 percent), 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 online and at grocery stores throughout the Hudson Valley (call ahead to confirm availability). 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.

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