kimball_katieEven though I won’t be going back to school this year (I’m a teacher in my former life, but I haven’t been since the year prior to last school year), I’m ready to help you think through your kids’ back-to-school shopping list when it comes to soaps and sanitizers.

Hand Sanitizer:  Safe for Schools?

Is hand sanitizer or antibacterial handsoap on your child’s back-to-school list?

I know a lot of schools, especially parochial ones, are asking parents to bring basic supplies like paper towel, tissue, and soap these days to cut costs.  I also know a lot of schools use alcohol-based hand sanitizer like it’s…well…water.  It’s not water, folks.

I would encourage you to read my post about the pros and cons of hand sanitizer before you go shopping.  You may want to try Cleanwell’s tea tree oil-based sanitizer instead.

Should You Buy Anti-Bacterial Soaps?

An even more important topic, in my mind, is the overuse of antibacterial soaps.  They are not needed, not ever, unless you’re sick in the hospital. Lots of kids get sick at school, I realize that. But isn’t the fact that lots of kids get sick at school, in spite of the rampant use of sanitizers and antibac products, proof enough that the antibacterial soaps aren’t going to protect you?  They are most likely doing more harm than good, in fact.  I encourage you to read Antibacterial Soap: How it Works and Why you Should Avoid Triclosan to arm yourself with information, life’s greatest weapon.

What Can We do About It?

You may find yourself wanting to write your child’s teacher or principal a note about antibacterial soap and why you don’t think it’s necessary in their classrooms.  You may even get your undies in a bunch about this country’s marketing strategies, companies that sell us things we don’t need while tricking us into thinking we’re protecting our kiddos’ health…all the while creating products that actually harm our kids and our earth.  Grrr…

Here is a form letter to Bath and Body Works, my least favorite store, asking them to reconsider their seeming undying commitment to antibacterials and triclosan.  You can cut and paste the informative part and draft a quick letter to your child’s school, too.

For now, don’t let yourself be tricked by back-to-school sales on alcohol-based hand sanitizer and antibacterial soap. Be sure to temper your frugality with your common sense, and do your research before committing to a 64 oz. bottle of something!

Copyright 2009 Katie Kimball