I've generally been leary about hand sanitizer but I've heard a couple good arguments against my concerns, so I'd love to hear some thoughts. A quick check on cosmetics database shows that sanitizers are all over the map in terms of safety. So lets assume we're talking about one that ranks about a 1 in the database. Like this one. http://www.ewg.org/skindeep/product/297805/CleanWell_CleanWell_All-Natural_Hand_Sanitizer__1_ounce_spray/ although, we can take its score with a grain of salt because several of the 0s say "none" for data.
Anyway, lets pretend we're talking about a "safe" type of hand sanitizer that does not have the immediate concern of fingers in mouth (and my dd has a loose tooth, so fingers are regularly entering her mouth :) )
My understanding is that hand sanitizers, both alcohol and thyme oil based, do not have the risk of creating "superbugs" with their overuse. So assuming thats true, my concerns are killing off good bacteria on my kids' hands and also that if we're constantly sanitizing our kids' environment their immune system isn't getting a workout thus, once they finally meet a germ, they're more likely to get sick.
So, the counter arguments I've heard: killing off good bacteria is only a concern in the gut, and on the skin it doesn't really matter, and besides, as soon as you touch any other part of your body your hands will be quickly "recolonized" with good bacteria (and other bacteria as well, of course)
And my thoughts on preventing the immune system work out is, if its just sanitizer on the hands once in awhile (like at school or other activities) it will matter much less than the amount of germs regularly encountered throughout the environment. School, of course, is probably sanitized up the wazoo with icky products. Can't control that. But at home we're pretty "germ friendly" so kids are getting more than enough "friendly exposure" at home and playing outside.
So, thoughts? I'm not planning to start buying it and having my kids use it regularly, but I am considering buying several large bottles of the safest brand I can get and donating it to my dd's classroom :) I'll talk to the teacher first, to make sure there aren't any school rules that alcohol based must be used in the classroom. Also, any favorite/safest brands? Like, if I were to choose a brand that I'd be the most happy about having my kids use immediately prior to licking their fingers, which would I choose?
I don't use it on a regular basis, nor do I use it when there is an option to wash with soap and water. I do use it regularly and short term when I'm in a crowded place (like, say Disneyland - every time I am next in line for a ride, I use a little to kill whatever I might have picked up on the handrails in line), and I find I am much less likely to get sick afterwards.
I keep Clean Well in the car and at home. The one at home gets used never but occasionally buy a weird baby-having guest. The one in the car is only used when vomit or poop come up on the go. The kids occasionally use the car potty and if poop is involved, we both spray our hands.
DS just started K and as far as I can tell they push soap and water ("cheap" and "effective" according to the principal).
As far as I can tell, the only opportunity for real, soap and water handwashing is after using the bathroom. Takes too long to have a class full of 5 year olds wash their hands, so they use sanitizer or baby wipes.