Dear SafeMama: Clorox Spray and Hand Sanitizers at School

By Kristie Turck •  Published 09/17/08 •  3 min read

Q: How safe is Clorox Anywhere Spray? They say it’s safe to use around kids and pets. If it’s really not safe, is there a better alternative that works the same way?

I had to answer this one because I am on a personal greening mission in my own home.  Before I say whether I think it’s safe, I want you to ask yourself this question.  Why do you need it? Companies are churning out hundreds of products aimed at sanitizing, and it’s their job to make you believe you NEED them.  Your house is a germ-infested playground!  You’ll get sick!  Everything is filthy!  You need to spray BLEACH on every non-porous surface on your house and on everything you own!  Including Baby’s pacifier! (Seriously… in a press release Clorox actually suggested you spray it on baby’s pacifier.) You might as well buy a CASE of it!

Seriously??  Listen, I am all for a clean house.  But it doesn’t need to be sprayed down with watered down bleach to be clean for my family.  Clorox Anywhere Sprays’ tagline is “Gentle as water™”. Then why not save a few bucks and just use water?  If you NEED something sanitizing add a few drops of lemon juice or white vinegar to a spray bottle of water.  Don’t have time to make your own? There are many safe products on the market that are natural and gentle enough to use around kids and pets that doesn’t require bleach.  We like BabyGanics, Simply Neutral, and Seventh Generation.

Q: Hi…love your site.  My son just started pre-school and on his first day when the parents were there to observe I saw the teacher give all the kids a big glob of purell to put on their hands before snack time.  Now while I appreciate her effort, we do not use that in our house.  I could get some of my Burt’s Bees hand sanitizer and ask her to spritz his hands with it but I didn’t want him to be singled out.  Any other suggestions on how to handle the situation?

I hadn’t thought about this much until recently.  With a toddler entering pre-school in January, this is one of many things I was concerned about.  It frightens me how many places I now see giant pump bottles full of Purell … the bounce house place, the gym day care, schools, offices.  The stuff is everywhere.  Unfortunately, the world is still in this anti-germ mind frame with everyone running around with bottles of it in their pockets.  There is two main ways to handle this in my eyes.  One is, get over it and just use better practices in your own lifestyle.  And two, (my favorite) make a big stink.

Look, I know no one wants to be the big annoying pain in the neck mother at the Pre-School.  But if you don’t make a stink, then who will?  That is your child they are slathering Purell on.  Print out information on the negative effects of hand sanitizers, inform them of the dangers of using ANY alcohol based hand sanitizer on children – especially if swallowed.  Talk to your child’s teachers and talk to the school coordinators.  Surely you can’t be the only mom who has a distaste for it.  The bottom line is, no one will hand you a magic solution so you’ll have to make a few waves if you want things to change.

If you want to be totally diplomatic… shell out and buy a case of safer hand sanitizers (We like Clean George or CleanWell) and donate it to the class.