There are several chemicals used today in “antibacterial” personal care and hygiene products which are toxic to the human body. Perhaps the most toxic is one named triclosan. Triclosan is a controversial chemical linked to hormonal disruption and various types of cancer.
Its chemical structure is similar to Agent Orange. Agent Orange is a highly toxic herbicide that was notoriously used to kill foliage during the Vietnam War. It was later linked to high rates of birth defects, neurological conditions and cancer in those that came into contact with the chemical.
There are other chemicals as well which have questionable chemical profiles for human safety. Ethyl alcohol is a common ingredient in hand sanitizer. It is linked to reproductive toxicity, cancer and birth defects. Another antibacterial agent called Benzalkonium Chloride (BAC) is used in sanitizing products. It is linked to cancer, allergies and organ toxicity.
The good news is there are many natural alternatives to these chemicals that work just as well if not better as antiseptic cleansers. Most of these naturally antibacterial ingredients are essential oils. Essential oils are the “essence” of various plants that are distilled down into their purest form.
They often contain organisms that are very potent in fighting bacteria. Not only that, some of them also act as anti-fungal agents and even as natural antibiotics.
One such essential oil is that of the thyme plant. You may know this herb as a delicious way to season foods. However thyme has recently been proven to be an even more potent antibacterial agent than many chemicals commonly used in soaps and hand cleansers.
Another essential oil that has strong antibacterial properties is lavender. Lavender is mostly known as the “relaxing” oil and is often used to calm the nerves. It is often overlooked as an antibacterial agent. However it is indeed excellent for topical use on the skin due its rare dual ability to soothe and calm the skin while also killing bacteria.
Essential oils of rosemary and peppermint are also good antibacterial agents. Peppermint smells wonderful, but may be a bit harsh for use on human skin in large quantities. However it would be a good addition to a household cleaner.
Many of the citrus essential oils are excellent at killing bacteria. Essential oils or orange, lemon, lemongrass, grapefruit and lime all possess antibacterial properties and sometimes even anti-fungal or antiviral properties.
Common household items
There are several items most people would be able to find in their pantry at any given time that work well as antibacterial mechanisms. Most types of vinegar are great at killing surface bacteria. When diluted in water vinegar is gentle enough to use on most furniture and even may be used topically on the skin if desired.
Many find the smell of vinegar to be unpleasant. For this reason it is often recommended to not only dilute it with distilled or purified water but also to add some more fragrant essential oils.
Lemon juice is also an excellent natural antibacterial agent. Many use lemon juice in natural household cleaners. Lemon juice can also be a great part of a natural astringent for the skin when diluted down to a lower acidity.
Hot water is an often forgotten way to kill bacteria. It is the most simple, readily available way to help rid surfaces of bacteria and other surface contaminants. Of course, it can be used in conjunction with any of the other aforementioned ingredients to make an inexpensive yet potent natural antibacterial cleaner.
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