Increases in environmental threats are common at the change of seasons, but recently concerns about staying healthy have hit social media and the news.
But the best thing you can do for yourself and your family: Stay calm, and follow best practices.
Now what are best practices?
Washing your hands thoroughly, especially when you’re out and about, is an excellent way to safeguard your health. Wash with soap, with warm or cold water, and scrub all areas of the hands for at least 20 seconds. Try to turn off faucets with paper towels if available.
The World Health Organization has created a helpful poster for thorough handwashing technique. (Click here for PDF version.) You can apply this technique for using hand sanitizer also! (WHO refers to this as “hand rub”.)
It would be a good idea to carry a travel size bottle of soap with you, to ensure that you always have soap available when you’re travelling or running errands. You can enhance your travel soap with essential oil, like the On Guard blend, to add a rejuvenating scent to the experience. When adding any essential oil to soap, make sure you blend it in thoroughly by stirring or shaking vigorously to avoid any potential skin sensitivity issues.
At home, you can use doTERRA’s pre-formulated On Guard foaming hand wash to encourage good hygiene and keep hands from drying out.
Sanitizing & Sanitary Practices
Keep surfaces in your home clean! Mop the floors! Do laundry! That’s right, chores aren’t just for appearances, they’re important to health. (So make sure your family knows all about how your hard work keeps the whole house safe before the next major holiday or birthday!)
The On Guard line also offers surface cleaner, and laundry soap. The surface cleaner comes in a convenient, plastic-reducing concentrate that allows you to tailor your cleaning based on how light or heavy duty your cleaning tasks are. Both soaps come with gentle, plant based cleaning agents that are safe for the whole family.
To help reduce things being tracked into the house, encourage taking shoes and jackets off at the door. Avoid putting purses, satchels, briefcases, or backpacks on surfaces where food may be prepared or eaten. And encourage people to wash their hands when they come home.
If everyone in the house is currently healthy, try to sanitize common surfaces like counters, tables, sinks, tubs, and toilets at least once a week. If someone in the house is unwell, encourage them to limit their exposure to others in the home, and place sanitizing wipes for them to use after using bathrooms or doorknobs. Double up on cleaning! Changing or washing sheets on a regular basis helps with a variety of environmental threats, also.
To help other people stay healthy, if you suspect you are unwell, take extra care to cover your coughing or sneezing with an arm or single-use tissue, not your hands! Hand washing is the preferable way to keep hands free of contaminants, but hand sanitizer can also help between washings.
DIY Hand Sanitizer
Couple notes: Hand washing is always the best thing to do. Pre-made hand sanitizer is also recommended since it is quality controlled and formulated to be effective and safe. You can add a drop or two of essential oil to pre-made sanitizer if you wish, just make sure to combine it well.
If you want to make your own hand sanitizer from scratch with your favorite essential oils, follow these guidelines:
- use alcohol with a concentration of 60% or higher and don’t dilute below 60%; 70% or 90% isopropyl alcohol would both be appropriate choices, drinkable alcohol would need to have a proof of 140 or higher to be appropriate (no using that bottle of vodka you didn’t like!), and is generally not preferred
- add a buffer like aloe vera gel, pure isopropyl alcohol is very drying to hands, and aloe will blend better with the alcohol than something like fractionated coconut oil
- use small amounts of essential oil, especially if you are using an essentials with higher potential for skin sensitivity, like clove or citrus
- your ratio should be 3/4 alcohol to 1/4 aloe
- if you do add essential oils: always shake well before use
- sterilize your containers before putting your mixture in
The best way to use hand sanitizer is sparingly, when you think you may have handled something hazardous and can’t get to a sink for hand washing. Again, alcohol-based products tend to be drying and don’t always do as thorough a job as hand washing.