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You Can Make a Nontoxic Hand Sanitizer With Just 3 Pantry Staples

So, your hands are a tad grimy — maybe you were just clinging to a subway pole for dear life during rush hour, or you just wiped your kid’s runny nose — yet you’re nowhere near a sink to do a proper hand washing (which experts say is always your best bet). In these instances, you probably reach for a bottle of hand sanitizer that you've picked up at the local pharmacy or convenience store. But many families aren't aware that conventional hand sanitizers have been known to come with their own set of risks, due to sketchy ingredients, including triclosan, artificial fragrances, and artificial colors.

Triclosan, an antibacterial agent that was once widely used in alcohol-free hand sanitizers, is of particular concern, as it has been linked to endocrine (i.e. hormonal) disruption and liver problems, and has been shown to persist in the environment and water supplies for long periods of time. In 2019, a new Food and Drug Administration ruling stated that manufacturers wouldn't be able to use over 25 different ingredients, including triclosan and benzethonium chloride, in the United States due to newfound evidence that these agents could actually be irritants on their own. But the FDA hasn't banned every questionable ingredient just yet — ethyl alcohol and isopropyl alcohol, alongside benzalkonium chloride, are still being studied to determine if they're truly safe in consumer-friendly hand sanitizers.

So, what’s a person with dirty hands to do with no sink in sight? You can buy an organic, alcohol-based hand sanitizer like EO Hand Sanitizer Spray, which is naturally scented with lavender essential oil. If soap and water aren't available, this product could be your next best bet, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

But if you don't have time to wait for two-day shipping, you can whip up a nontoxic DIY hand sanitizer using the instructions below, which packs in the germ-killing power of alcohol and antibacterial lavender and tea tree essential oils. Plus, we've included the soothing properties of aloe vera to keep your fingers from drying out. Here are the step-by-step instructions to make DIY hand sanitizer: