Think you're doing the right thing by squirting your little's hands with sanitizer every time they hit the park, grab a snack or head into the classroom? Think again. Most mainstream hand sanitizers use a highly toxic chemical called triclosan. The U.S. FDA is reconsidering the use of triclosan in personal care products, but for now it's up to us to replace this ubiquitous "cleanser" with a nontoxic version. Thankfully, there are plenty to choose from.

According to the Environmental Working Group, "A U.S. FDA advisory committee has found that household use of antibacterial products provides no benefits over plain soap and water" and "the American Medical Association recommends that triclosan not be used in the home, as it may encourage bacterial resistance to antibiotics."

A U.S. FDA advisory committee has found that household use of antibacterial products provides no benefits over plain soap and water.

These two findings are strong enough for me to avoid soaps, antibacterial gels and sprays and cleaning supplies that contain triclosan. But that doesn't mean I don't feel the need to wipe down my grocery cart handle or spray my daughter's hands at our local amusement park after she rides the carousel and pets the goats.

I've traded the toxic stuff for an arsenal of clean hand wipes and sprays that I keep at the ready — in my purse, in my car and in the kindergarten class. These items make great donations to your children's classrooms, your local library or added to a gift bag for any new mom.

environmentally friendly hand sanitizers


If those reasons were not convincing enough for you to make the switch, consider the fact that the FDA is studying the chemical's impact on human health after triclosan was linked to liver and inhalation toxicity, and thyroid function disruption in animals. It's enough to make you want to go wash your hands with plain old soap and water! But if you must spray and wipe, reach for a nontoxic option.

Related reading

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Summer's best nontoxic sunscreen

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