Toxic Shopping Cart Cleaner Alternatives and Homemade Hand Sanitizer (Updated 07/05/2020)

At my local Trader Joe’s and Sprouts the Cart Cleaning Wipes contain “Quats”. I see people using these toxic wipes to wipe themselves down too! What if it is a pregnant woman using this? What if a baby touches this and then puts his or hands in their mouths? What if you are the next person to use this cart that is now covered with Quats?

I asked the TJ store manager about these environmental and human unfriendly wipes. He said that this all the corporation offers. When I mention it to one of the TJ cashiers, the response was,  “Ours contains natural orange oils, so it is so safe you can wipe your hands with it”… Umm, I don’t think so.

Quats are quaternary ammonium compounds, which are endocrine disruptors (see below) in humans and toxic to marine life.

Here is the truth about chemical disinfectants:

Bleach (sodium hypochlorite) cause asthma in workers who breathe too much of it in their jobs. They can trigger asthma attacks. They can also irritate the skin, eyes, and respiratory tract. But when used correctly diluted, in a well vented area, it kills virus. It is a “natural”. https://elainemd.com/2020/04/07/how-to-sanitize-and-care-for-your-homemade-reusable-mask/

Quaternary ammonium compounds (also known as QUATs, QACs, or QATs). Use of QUATs has been associated with the growth of bacteria that are resistant to disinfection. Sometimes this resistance also transfers to antibiotics. In laboratory studies, QUATs were found to damage genetic material (genes). Benzalkonium chloride is a severe eye irritant and causes and triggers asthma. Exposures to QUATs may cause allergic skin reactions.

Triclosan is a suspected endocrine disruptor (see below) and also lead to the development of antibiotic- resistant bacteria.

Phthalates are used in fragrances that are found in air fresheners and cleaning and sanitizing products. They are endocrine disruptors. Research indicates that phthalates increase the risk of allergies and asthma and can affect children’s neurodevelopment and thyroid function. Studies show links between phthalates in mothers to abnormal genital development in boys. Phthalates have been found in human urine, blood, semen, amniotic fluid, and breast milk.

Thymol derived from oil of Thyme (natural). Recently EPA approved for Covid19 disinfection. No long lasting environmental impact. https://www.seventhgeneration.com/blog/what-thymol https://cleanwelltoday.com/products/

Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are chemicals that vaporize at room temperature. Many VOCs that are released by cleaning supplies have been linked to chronic respiratory problems such as asthma, allergic reactions, and headaches.

But Whole Foods has it right. Their cart wipes are non toxic:

Good to reduce exposure to unwanted bacteria and viruses. No one wants to get the Flu or Corona virus.

So here’s what you can do. Make your own Alcohol based hand sanitizer sprayer or purchase one. You can then spray all sorts of things with this: Shopping cart handle, credit card pen, touch screens, airplane seat belt buckle, arm rests and tray tables. You have to spray enough the the object looks soaked. Then let it dry.

(But glad to see more and more touch-less credit card transactions. I use my Apple watch to pay for many things now. So convenient. And clean. ) 

Make your own Hand Sanitizer Sprayer

Into your 2oz spray bottle, add few drops of essential oil – the number of drops of pure 100% essential oil you add depends on how strong you want the fragrance. Put a few drops in, see how it smells. You can always add more, combine different oils to make your own scents. I love the smell of citrus, which is uplifting, cheerful. Whereas Lavender is calming. Peppermint is energizing and Patchouli for misc. skin health. Tea tree oil is antiseptic. The tangerine (my favorite) is orange in color so technically it could stain. A word of caution: Citrus oil can irritate some people’s skin, cause allergies more so than other oils and or cause photo dermatitis. All essential oils can be irritating if your skin is sensitive.

I usually add about 10-15 drops of essential oil per 2 oz  bottle sprayer. Then fill the rest of the bottle with 70% rubbing alcohol. Leaving some room for sprayer tubing. Cons: spraying makes noise. So if you are in a quiet place, you can hear the spray.

Color of the Hand Sanitizer spray with tangerine essential oil is a light orange (on the left).

The labeled hand sanitizer were purchased from Whole Foods:  The small one fits nicely into a small purse. They can easily be refilled too. 

Make your own Hand Sanitizer Gel

To make homemade Hand Sanitizer Gel: Proportions are mix 2/3 of 91% rubbing alcohol (better to error on the side of adding a little more rubbing alcohol because you do not want to go below 60% alcohol) to 1/3 aloe gel (thicker) or Glycerin gel (waterier) . Optional essential oils.

Use a ruler to measure and Sharpie to draw marks directly onto the bottle, dividing it out into equal thirds. Remember to leave about 1/2 inch at top to allow room to shake your mixture. Then squirt in your gel to the first 1/3 line and rubbing alcohol for the rest. Shake well to mix. Cons: need to shake it before use because the gel separates. Plus it is too liquidity and leaves a “film” feel on my hands.

How to make your own Sanitizing wipes

There are decomposable wipes on the market. But they are not disinfecting. You can hack a natural one with honest ingredients. First, let them dry out and add 91% rubbing alcohol to the container. Or repurpose used natural dryer sheets like the ones from Seventh Generation. Fold some of these into a plastic bag or container and pour some Alcohol on them until they are just soaked. Seal the container so Alcohol does not evaporate. Using paper towel or tissue does not work because they are too absorbent hence use up a lot of alcohol. The latter harder to find and more expensive during a pandemic.

Or buy pure alcohol wipes. For travel, the individually packaged ones are convenient.

WHAT ARE ENDOCRINE DISRUPTORS?*

Hormones are substances that are produced by our endocrine system.

  • In very, very small amounts hormones control growth, reproduction, metabolism, development, behavior, sleep functions, immune function, and stress. These are all functions that are critical for life.
  • These functions are controlled by hormonal messages sent by the endocrine system.
  • Hormones also play a role in many diseases, including diabetes and cancer.Endocrine disruptors are chemicals that interrupt or imitate those natural hormonal messages.
    • Since hormones work at very small doses, endocrine disrupting chemicals can also affect health in very small amounts.
    • According to the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, endocrine disruptors may cause reduced fertility in women and men, early puberty in girls, and increases in cancers of the breast, ovaries, and prostate.
    • A 2013 report from the World Health Organization reports that evidence linking hormone-mimicking chemicals to human health problems has grown stronger over the past decade, becoming a “global threat” that should be addressed.

References – *EPA https://www.epa.gov/sites/production/files/documents/ece_curriculumfinal.pdf

Environmental Working Group https://www.ewg.org/guides/cleaners/2046-CloroxDisinfectingWipesOrange/

https://www.ewg.org/skindeep/ingredients/706538-THYMOL/

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