The Best Hand Sanitizers for Kids and Parents
September 27, 2021
Parenting can be messy. Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, hand hygiene has been top of mind for all caregivers. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), regular handwashing is one of the most effective ways to zap germs and avoid getting sick. But if you don’t have access to soap and water when out and about with the kiddos, hand sanitizer is your next best bet.
Nowadays, children need to be equipped with safety essentials—including a face mask and, of course, kids’ hand sanitizer. There are many options available from alcohol-based gels and wipes to all-natural formulas, but some are more effective than others. Not sure where to begin your search? Here, you’ll find our top hand-hygiene safety tips—plus, a roundup of the best hand sanitizers for kids and parents.
You want to protect your little one from germs and illnesses at all costs, but hand sanitizer isn’t always the best solution for young children. To that end, you may be wondering: Is hand sanitizer safe for babies and toddlers? The answer, unfortunately, isn’t quite as definitive as you may think… “Infants and young children can get alcohol poisoning from sanitizer, especially if they drink it,” says Alexis Phillips, DO, a pediatrician at Memorial Hermann Medical Group Pediatrics in Atascocita, Texas. What’s more, according to the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), ingesting just a small amount of sanitizer is dangerous for children, and can lead to alcohol-poisoning. There’s even a risk if they put a wet-with-sanitizer hand in their mouth. To that end, Phillips strongly advises against using alcohol-based sanitizers on baby and toddler hands.
The good news: Philips says that hand sanitizer is considered safe for kids ages 24 months and up, as long as an adult is supervising. The American Academy of Pediatrics asserts that children under the age of 5 must be closely watched when using alcohol-based hand sanitizers. These products should also be stored out of reach of children.
Hand sanitizers fall into two distinct categories: those that contain alcohol and those that don’t. Alcohol-based sanitizer is appropriate for anyone over the age of 2. (Remember, adult supervision is key to keeping kids safe). The American Academy of Pediatrics and the CDC both recommend using hand sanitizer with at least 60 percent alcohol as it’s most effective at eradicating germs and viruses including COVID-19. Always read the ingredients list and don’t buy sanitizers that contain methanol (also called wood alcohol, methyl alcohol or methylated spirits) as it’s toxic if swallowed or used on the skin repeatedly.
It’s worth noting that many alcohol-free sanitizers contain the active ingredient benzalkonium chloride which has antiseptic properties. It’s often labeled as child-friendly, but, again, it’s not as effective as alcohol-based products and should still be used with grownup supervision. (For the record, the same goes for plant-based hand sanitizers.)
Now that we’ve discussed the different formulas, here are the most commonly used types:
• Gels. Gels are a popular and economical type of hand sanitizer. Why? Products of this type often have a pump lid, which distributes the right amount of sanitizer with each squeeze. The liquid formula is also easy to rub into your hands.
• Foams. This type of sanitizer is fast-drying and easy to apply. However, it tends to be more expensive than gels.
• Sprays. Like foam options, sanitizer sprays dry quickly, but they are difficult to see once applied so it may be harder to get even coverage on your kids hands.
• Wipes. Sanitizing hand wipes are great for cleaning sticky paws when you’re in a hurry. But they’re expensive and may not be as effective as liquid and foam sanitizers.
Ready to start shopping? Here are 11 of the best hand sanitizers for kids and grown-ups. Try one of these picks the next time you’re on the go without access to soap and water.
Babyganics Fragrance-Free Alcohol-Free Foaming Hand Sanitizer
First up is an alcohol-free kids’ hand sanitizer by Babyganics. It’s fragrance-free, hypoallergenic and moisturizing, meaning it won’t dry out sensitive skin. Plus, the travel-sized bottle is perfect for busy parents on the go. Better yet, the foaming formula kills 99.9 percent of germs and bacteria. One possible downside? This child-friendly option doesn’t protect against viruses like COVID-19.
Buy it: $4, buybuyBABY.com
Honest Hand Sanitizer Spray Free + Clear
Founded by celebrity-mom Jessica Alba, Honest is known for its high-quality, sustainable products. And this Best of Baby award-winning hand sanitizer is no exception. The dermatologist-tested spray contains 62 percent alcohol to kill germs as well as naturally-derived glycerin and aloe to leave skin feeling soft and moisturized. Plus, this product absorbs quickly and won’t leave a sticky residue on the skin.
Buy it: $7 for a pack of 2, Honest.com
Hello Bello Hand Sanitizer Spray
Keep little digits clean with the Hello Bello sanitizer spray. Created by parenting power-couple Kristen Bell and Dax Shepard, this spray packs a punch. It’s vegan, cruelty-free and contains 60 percent alcohol as recommended by the CDC—so it’s best suited for kids 24 months and up. There are three different options to choose from: unscented, apple blossom and lavender.
Buy it: $6 for a pack of 2, HelloBello.com
Pipette Hand Sanitizer
The best hand sanitizers for kids kill germs without irritating the skin. That’s why we love this pick made by Pipette. It contains 65 percent alcohol to stop germs and viruses in their tracks (so, again, best for slightly older kids!)—plus, plant-derived squalane to keep hands moisturized. The non-sticky formula dries in a flash. The best part? This sanitizer earned the best possible rating from the Environmental Working Group (EWG), an organization that tests products for safety and effectiveness.
Buy it: $5, PipetteBaby.com
Baby Bum Hand Sanitizer
Next up: a kids’ hand sanitizer spray by Baby Bum. This pediatrician and dermatologist-tested product was designed with children in mind. The germ-busting active ingredient is sugar-cane alcohol, which kills 99.9 percent of bacteria. Plus, the plant-based formula is free from harsh chemicals and contains coconut oil, banana and aloe to soothe all skin types. Bonus: This product has thousands of five-star Amazon reviews from parents who love the beachy scent.
Buy it: $12 for a pack of 3, Amazon.com
MD Science Lab Kids Klean Hand Sanitizer for Kids Spray
Searching for an alcohol-free kids’ hand sanitizer? This pick from MD Science Lab uses natural disinfectants like tea tree oil and aloe vera in combination with benzalkonium chloride, an FDA-approved active ingredient that kills 99.99% of germs. The watery formula is easy to spread, and it’s enriched with vitamins A and C for added moisturization.
Buy it: $15 for a pack of 6, Walmart.com
Boogie Hands Alcohol-Free Hand Sanitizer Wipes
Here’s one more alcohol-free option for little kids: Boogie hand wipes. The gentle wipes are hypoallergenic and moisturising. Plus, they come in a resealable pack so they won’t dry out. Use them to clean visibly dirty hands when you don’t have access to a restroom.
Buy it: $13 for a pack of 6, Amazon.com
Purell Refreshing Hand Sanitizer
Purell is the go-to brand for American families and medical professionals—and with good reason. With 70 percent alcohol, one squirt of Purell Advanced kills 99.9 percent of germs, providing twice the sanitizing strength of other national brands. Plus, it’s free from parabens, aluminium and dyes. And at only $3 for an 8 oz. bottle, this gel is a bargain to boot!
Buy it: $3, Target.com
OLIKA Hydrating Hand Sanitizer Clip On
How cute is this travel-sized hand sanitizer? Clip the ergonomic, soft-touch bottle onto your keychain or diaper bag so you’re never left short. The formula is made using a blend of essential oils and 65 percent alcohol to combat viruses and bacteria. OLIKA hand sanitizers contain 300 mists per package and are refillable making it an eco-friendly option too.
Buy it: $15, OLIKALife.com
PAUME The New Baby Essentials Kit
Here’s another sustainable option for safety-conscious parents: The New Baby Essentials Kit by PAUME. Made using plant-based emollients, this sanitizer nourishes the skin but still kills 99.9 percent of germs. The large refillable pump bottle is perfect for your changing table, while the travel bottles are ideal for cleansing your hands when you’re running errands with baby. Although it’s a little more expensive than other options, the refill pack will help keep you germ-free for a long time.
Buy it: $84, PAUME.com
Everyone Hand Sanitizer Spray
This hand sanitizer boasts 62 percent alcohol content naturally derived from sugarcane alcohol, plus essential oils and other botanical ingredients that promise to nourish and protect hard-working hands. What’s more, this top-rated product is cruelty-free, vegan and free from harmful chemicals.
Buy it: $20 for a pack of 6, Amazon.com
About the expert: Alexis Phillips, DO, is a pediatrician at Memorial Hermann Medical Group Pediatrics in Atascocita, Texas. She earned her medical degree at Ohio University College of Osteopathic Medicine in Athens.
Please note: The Bump and the materials and information it contains are not intended to, and do not constitute, medical or other health advice or diagnosis and should not be used as such. You should always consult with a qualified physician or health professional about your specific circumstances.