Every day for the past few weeks I've glanced at the local newspapers and noticed large-type headlines about a FLU EPIDEMIC. I'm generally healthy, so I didn't bother getting a flu vaccine; instead, I'm just trying to eat healthily, get enough sleep and wash my hands frequently. For moments when I'm on the move and I can't get to a sink with hot water and soap, I like to carry a CleanWell All-Natural Hand Sanitizer. It's not a magic bullet, of course, but it lessens my anxiety about germs from stairway railings, subway poles and any other unsavory surfaces I might have touched.
CleanWell offers a range of liquid hand soaps, cleaning products and disinfectant wipes, but the All-Natural Hand Sanitizer is my favorite. This is a liquid product, packaged in a slim container with a flip top and a spray dispenser; a few spritzes into the palm of a hand gives enough sanitizer for one thorough use. Unlike alcohol-based gel sanitizers, CleanWell's germ-fighting spray doesn't sting dry skin (or the roughened cuticles and cracked fingertips that often result from very cold weather), and it doesn't dribble onto my sleeves and my purse the way a gel always seems to do when I squirt it out of its little bottle. This is also the only hand sanitizer that hasn't given me an itchy red rash on my fingers.
Like all the products in the CleanWell line, the All-Natural Hand Sanitizer relies on a formulation of thyme oil as its active ingredient (rather than triclosan, for example). Thyme has natural antiseptic properties, as well as purported aromatherapeutic benefits. To gild the lily (or the thyme leaf), CleanWell brought natural perfumer Mandy Aftel (of Aftelier) on board to create the scents for its products. The Hand Sanitizer is available in three scent blends. The Original fragrance adds litsea cubeba and orange oil to the thyme and oregano oils of the basic formula; however, the latter two ingredients are still prominent, making this a strongly herbal blend.
I've also tried the All-Natural Hand Sanitizer in Spearmint Lime and Orange Vanilla, and I like both. The Spearmint Lime adds extra fresher-smelling notes to the original, although the thyme and oregano are still noticeable too. The Orange Vanilla version, with real orange oil and vanilla extract, is warmer and cozier without being dessert-like. All three scents last for just a minute or two before they evaporate. (They're also subtle enough that they won't cause everyone else in the room to look around, wondering what they're smelling.)
I've enjoyed CleanWell's Foaming Hand Wash in the past, but these Hand Sanitizers are the products that I keep repurchasing and compulsively carrying in my bag. They're a pleasant and effective way to mitigate contact with certain germs, even beyond flu season.
CleanWell All-Natural Hand Sanitizer sells for approximately $3 (for a 30 ml spray bottle) or $10.99 for a three-pack; visit the CleanWell website for more information and a list of stores.