Easy and Cheap Safer Hand Soap

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Before my kids were old enough to use hand soap, I stocked our bathrooms with the Beautycounter hand soap pump.

Then my daughter started wanting to wash her hands and I watched tablespoons of my soap go down the drain each wash. I still love this soap and have it next to my bathroom sink, but I needed a cheaper option for around the house. And I wanted it to have clean ingredients for their little hands, especially since they are so often in their mouths (whyyyy?).

Here's the deal with regular old hand soap - it can include a bunch of things I don't want on my kids' hands or my own, and definitely not in their mouths. Common ingredients include:

  1. Fragrance is something I talk about all the time on Instagram, but the quick story is that "it" is protected by IP law, so companies don't have to disclose the ingredients that are in it. The simple word "fragrance" on a label (or "pafrum") is rarely just one ingredient. It's often tens or hundreds of ingredients. Often times, harmful ingredients like phthalates (see below) hide undetected in fragrance.

  2. Phthalates are a class of plasticizers that are often used in personal care products to make fragrance stick to skin. Unfortunately, they are known endocrine disruptors (studies have shown a link to early breast development, which is a risk factor for breast cancer) and have been tied to birth defects.

  3. Sulfates are what is used to make soap lather or bubble. They aren't necessary in terms of cleaning, but over time advertising has equated lather with cleanliness and here we are. SLS (sodium laurel sulfate) and SLES (sodium laureth sulfate) are two of the most common that you will see. The problem with sulfates is that they strip our skin of natural oils, which means our skin is more penetrable and they are a known allergen/skin irritant. Together that is a crappy combo.

But there are plenty of safer options out there! I recommend Seventh Generation or Everyone. You can easily find these at Target, Whole Foods, or on Amazon.

And while I really try to focus on the positive and share brands I love, I need to call out Method and Mrs. Meyers. Both brands definitely look cleaner (and may even charge a bit more for this) but almost always include fragrance. A quick look at the label will tell you if it does or not.

I am 99.9% DIY-free, it’s just not my thing. For a while I bought the brands above.

But I’ve found that if I grab a bottle of Dr. Bronner's concentrated castile soap and foaming soap dispensers, I can make really clean hand soap and the kids always think it’s a fun activity. Also, it’s super cheap so if they want to play with it in the bathroom for twenty minutes, I’m all for it.

A bottle of concentrate usually lasts us over a year and cuts down on waste because we are no longer no throwing out or recycling the soap dispenser every time we run out.

Foaming soap dispensers are really simple to use. Simply fill to the first line with the concentrated soap and then with water to the top line. We have them at every sink in our home with the exception of mine. Because a mama’s got to have a tiny bit of luxury, right?

For on-the-go hand washing, I try to keep two things in my bag. A mini bottle of Dr. Bronner's for use in public restrooms and a spray sanitizer from Honest Co or Everyone. The sprays are great when leaving the park, store, etc. I buy them at Target (in the travel toiletries section) or Whole Foods where the prices tend to be better.

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Cheap and easy safer hand soap. Plus, a fun activity for kids!