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The Truth About Mainstream Hand Sanitizer

Updated: Mar 20, 2023

During the covid pandemic, I read an article claiming a study found hand sanitizer vapor can break down (K)N95 and P2 face masks, reducing their effectiveness. If that's the case, imagine what it's doing to the skin and immune system!

Suppose you read my article, The Truth About Antibacterial Soap. In that case, you probably already know that The FDA banned certain antibacterial soaps back in 2016 and that antibacterial soap is a bad idea and unnecessary. During the FDA's news release on the final ruling on the safety and effectiveness of antibacterial soap, they said:

“Consumers may think antibacterial washes are more effective at preventing the spread of germs, but we have no scientific evidence that they are any better than plain soap and water,” said Janet Woodcock, M.D., director of the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research (CDER). In fact, some data suggests that antibacterial ingredients may do more harm than good over the long-term” (1).

Dangerous Ingredients Found in Mainstream Hand Sanitizer


Dangerous Ingredients Found in Mainstream Hand Sanitizer

The ingredients I am about to discuss are based on the hand sanitizer I used before adopting a natural way of living and avoiding toxins to the best of my ability; Purell Advanced Hand Sanitizer.

Acrylates/C10-30 Alkyl Acrylate Crosspolymer

Acrylates/C10-30 Alkyl Acrylate Crosspolymer is a synthetic ingredient usually added to improve the texture and feel of a skincare product; this gives hand sanitizer a thick, gel-like consistency. The concern here is the several ingredients needed to make this one ingredient.

"Polymers are formed from large chains of monomers, which are molecules that can bind to each other. The formation of acrylates/C10-30 alkyl acrylate crosspolymer occurs when C10-30 acrylate is combined with monomers of acrylic acid and methacrylic acid. Acrylates/C10-30 alkyl acrylate crosspolymer is similar to the Carbomer polymers, which are also commonly used in cosmetics and personal care products. However, Carbomers are polymers consisting purely of acrylic acid monomers, while acrylates/C10-30 alkyl acrylate crosspolymer is comprised of a mixture of acrylic acid and methacrylic acid (2)."

Plus, there is concern about the presence of 1,4-dioxane, a potentially dangerous by-product. 1,4-dioxane is a known animal carcinogen that penetrates readily into the skin. This ingredient has also been linked with skin allergies. There is so much concern about this contaminant that a class-action lawsuit was filed in New Jersey against manufacturers of children's bath and personal-care products (3).

Aminomethyl Propanol

Aminomethyl propanol is an alcohol derived from a fatty acid that functions as a pH adjuster in cosmetic products and is considered a fragrance (4). It is a humectant that pulls water into the skin and helps to hold moisture into the skin. This fragrance has 250 studies available in PubMed Science Library, and although there aren’t many alarming concerns, there is a specified concentration limit that shouldn’t be exceeded (5). The biggest concern is that it can irritate some skin types, particularly those that are already sensitized or irritated (6).

Caprylyl Glycol

Caprylyl Glycol is an alcohol derived from a fatty acid known as caprylic acid. Caprylic acid is found in coconut oil, palm oil, and cow’s milk. Although it can be derived from natural sources, it's synthetically produced in the skin and body care formulas (7). Caprylyl Glycol is a humectant that pulls water into the skin and helps to hold moisture into the skin. It can irritate some skin types, particularly those already sensitized or irritated (8). Additionally, in 2012 a study showed that 99% of breast cancer samples contained parabens, a common carcinogenic ingredient in most deodorants and antiperspirants, as well as toxins such as aluminum chlorohydrate, aluminum zirconium, tetrachlorohydrex GLY, talc, petroleum, caprylyl glycol, stearic acid, and fragrance (9).

Fragrance (Parfum)

Fragrances are derived from petrochemicals. These chemicals include benzene derivatives, aldehydes, phthalates, and many other known toxins capable of causing cancer, congenital disabilities, nervous-system disorders, and allergies. These chemicals could contain any number of the 3,100 or so stock chemical ingredients used by the fragrance industry (10). To learn more regarding The Truth About Fragrance, click here.

Natural Hand Sanitizer Recommendations

  • Dr. Bronner's Lavender Hand Sanitizer is formulated with only 4 ingredients—organic fair trade ethyl alcohol, water, organic glycerin, & organic lavender oil. Spray on children’s hands—wipe clean! Spray on surfaces in public bathrooms, classrooms, buses, trains, and planes. Use as an air freshener or deodorizer—spray into the air for a wonderful aroma!

  • Dr. Bronner's Peppermint Hand Sanitizer is formulated with only 4 ingredients—organic fair trade ethyl alcohol, water, organic glycerin, & organic peppermint oil. None of the nasty chemicals you find in conventional hand sanitizers, but just as effective!

  • Earthley’s All-Purpose Spray is the only spray you’ll ever need! For cleaning, sanitizing, air freshener, even deodorant! Comes in 2 oz and 8 oz sizes: one perfect for on the go and the other plenty for at home. Now re-formulated to be 63% alcohol, complying with the new standards for sanitization.

10% earthley wellness promo code

Benefits of D.I.Y. Natural, Toxin-Free Hand Sanitizer

So instead of using the mainstream stuff that’s brimming with toxins, I’ve decided to make my own when life gets too busy to buy one of the hand sanitizers I trust. My hand sanitizer recipe is non-toxic yet still pretty strong and not overwhelming with scents for those who are more sensitive. Let me break down each ingredient that I chose so you can better understand the benefits of my DIY recipe.

91% Isopropyl Alcohol

Isopropyl alcohol kills and prevents the growth of bacteria on the skin while also preventing bacterial infections when applied topically to a minor cut or scrape (11).

Lavender Essential Oil

Lavender essential oil isn’t just for the smell; it has many benefits for the skin, including:

  • Wound healing properties (12)

  • Anti-inflammatory properties (13)

  • May improve dry skin (14)

Tea Tree Essential Oil

Tea tree essential oil also has many skin health benefits that make it essential to add to this recipe, such as:

  • Antibacterial properties (15,16)

  • Antiseptic properties (17)

  • Promotes wound healing (18)

  • Antifungal properties (19,20)

Lemon Essential Oil

Lemon essential oil also has many benefits for the skin, making it an essential ingredient in this recipe, including:

  • Promotes wound healing (21)

  • Antibacterial properties (22)

  • Antifungal properties (23)

Vitamin E Oil

Vitamin E is not a single vitamin but rather a group of fat-soluble vitamins with antioxidant effects. Some benefits of vitamin E oil are:

  • Moisturizing skin

  • Reducing itchy skin

  • Relieving eczema and psoriasis (24)


D.I.Y. Natural, Toxin-Free Hand Sanitizer

Ingredients & Materials:


  1. Gather your materials: spray bottle and a measuring cup as well as your ingredients, preferably organic: 91% isopropyl alcohol (91% rubbing alcohol) or vodka, vitamin E oil, lavender, tea tree, and lemon essential oil.

  2. After you've gathered all your ingredients, mix the ingredients into a small spray bottle of some sort. I reused a MaryRuth bottle from an old Vitamin D Spray. Glass bottles are preferred to avoid unwanted toxins!

  3. Be sure to carry around your homemade, all-natural, toxin-free hand sanitizer wherever you go, and never go without clean hands again.

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What's your go-to natural hand sanitizer?



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