The chill in the air! The crunch of the leaves! The sights and sounds of autumn are here! Everything is cozy and crisp and wonderful and…ACHOO!
As the first sneeze of the season rings through your house, it can only mean one thing: cold and flu season is upon us. Let’s prepare together by making a cost-effective, all-natural hand sanitizer to keep those nasty germs at bay.
This easy activity opens up discussions on practicing healthy habits during this germ-filled time of year. Here are a few reminders:
Wash or sanitize hands whenever possible
Germs are everywhere – there’s no way around it. But sanitizing or washing hands is the best way to prevent them from spreading. Rub in sanitizer to the palms and back of hands, and teach little ones to wash hands with soap for as long as it takes to sing “Happy Birthday” twice.
Clean areas children touch frequently
Wipe down doorknobs, toys, railings, electronic tablets, remote controls, etc. with disinfectant frequently. You obviously can’t chase after your children with a Clorox wipe every moment, but staying on top cleaning surfaces makes a huge difference when it comes to germ transfers.
Scrub down that bathroom
A hygienic bathroom during cold and flu seasons is a must. Top-to-bottom care is essential in this busy hub in your home. The toilet handle, the sink, and even the floor should enjoy frequent cleanings. And don’t forget to wash hand towels…and then wash them again.
Teach the beloved “vampire” sneeze and cough
This one comes with some practice, but teaching kids to sneeze or cough in the crook of the elbow is a huge step in the prevention of spreading germs. If you stick with it, you will notice that the “vampire” move becomes a knee-jerk reaction pretty quickly.
Lastly, call your little ones in sick
If your child has a temperature or isn’t acting like him or herself, keep them home. No one knows your child better than you, so if something seems off, it’s best to err on the side of caution.
To make your own hand sanitizer, you will need:
• 8 ounces Aloe Vera gel
• 1 tablespoon witch hazel
• ¼ teaspoon tea tree oil
• ¼ teaspoon Vitamin E oil
• Essential oils, variety of scents
• Travel-sized spray bottles
First, decide which essential oils you’d like to use. Four scents were chosen here, and we were creative in decorating each spray bottle with labels. If it’s going to be attached to you all cold and flu season, might as well make it nice-looking, right?
Fill a measuring cup with 8 ounces of Aloe Vera gel. Aloe Vera’s job is to serve as the base of the sanitizer and to be very gentle on skin.
Next, add the active ingredients. Begin with the witch hazel, adding 1 tablespoon. Witch hazel is a natural cleanser that protects against infection. Alcohol can be used in its place, but witch hazel is far less drying.
Add ¼ tablespoon of tea tree oil. When it is in 0.5-1.0% concentration form, tea tree oil is powerful in killing most bacteria and is potent when preventing infection. (The other thing that is powerful about tea tree oil is its scent. The kids might not love how strong it is, but once the essential oils are added to the hand sanitizer mixture, the odor dissipates).
For extra moisture, add Vitamin E oil. A common complaint about store-bought sanitizers is how drying they can be, especially applied for days (and months) on end. The Vitamin E and aloe really make this homemade version easier on the kids’ hands. And it is thick!
Lastly, add your essential oil for scent. The overwhelming favorite in this house was peppermint.
Pour into your cutely made spray bottles. Stash them away in the kids’ backpacks, lunch boxes, in the cup holders of their car seats, or anywhere in between!
Best of luck this cold and flu season!
Save it for later!