Gym wipes are quickly becoming “a thing.” Small enough to fit in your gym bag, disposable so they don’t have to be washed, and the perfect quick fix if you’re heading out to lunch with friends or back to work and don’t have time for a shower. But they aren’t cheap, and who knows what’s in them? With two (sometimes three) inexpensive, readily-available ingredients, you can cut costs and have a clean and chemical-free wipe down after class. Do this quickie health and beauty hack to make your own customized, antibacterial wipes that are gentle enough to use on your face AND disinfect household surfaces. All you need is a tub of baby wipes and a bottle of Witch Hazel. If you want to up the cootie-killing quotient to the next level, you can add a little tea tree oil to the mix, but that step is optional.
Most commercial hand wipes like Wet Ones contain triclosan, which is a common antibacterial and antifungal agent. But according to the FDA, research has shown that triclosan alters hormone regulations in animals, might be harmful to the immune system and its usage might contribute to the development of antibiotic germs. If that isn’t enough, triclosan sounds like an STD – which makes it all the more objectionable.
We chose Huggies Simply Clean Baby Wipes because they’re available at any grocery store, alcohol and fragrance-free, and have a soft, cushy texture. But feel free to pick your favorite brands based on personal preference. Other choices may include Shea Butter, Vitamin E, Aloe Vera and other fancy, skin-enhancing ingredients. But whatever you decide, definitely buy a box with the plastic tub.
Witch Hazel is a multi-tasking product that’s been used for centuries for various health and beauty purposes from soothing sunburn, to disinfecting cuts, curing diaper rash and as a facial toner that tightens pores and locks in moisture. It’s made from boiling the leaves, petals, and bark of the witch hazel shrub. The resulting extract has potent antiseptic, antioxidant, and anti-inflammatory benefits. Plus, it’s dirt cheap and also readily available at any drugstore or grocery store.
Pour a bottle of Witch Hazel into the baby wipes container until soaked through. If you really want to boost the cootie-killing power, spike the Witch Hazel with a few drops of pure Tea Tree Oil. It’s pretty strong smelling and a little goes a long way. Used by Australian Aborigines for centuries, the essential oil of the Melaleuca alternifolia shrub has potent antibacterial, antiviral and antifungal qualities. A rare combination in a single substance.
Personally, we like to do this because sweating often leads to clogged pores and breakouts and Tea Tree Oil has been clinically proven to work as well as benzoyl-peroxide in treating mild to moderate acne. These wipes are ideal to wipe your feet and sticky mat after a hot yoga class, or your germy hands after a sweaty gym sesh where you’ve been touching shared equipment. It’s totally worth the few extra dollars per bottle at your local Trader Joe’s or Whole Foods, and that tiny bottle will last you forever. We have one that’s still half full after two years.
We keep multiple boxes around because they’re useful for cleaning anything and everything. It’s helpful to keep some wipes in a plastic baggie in purses and gym bags. Post-workout, these make fantastic, spa-like, wet wipes that get all the sweat and dirt off. Even if you don’t have time for a shower afterwards, they can keep your complexion clean, clear and glowing. It also gets the germs off hands without drying them out. In your car, they’re great for cleaning kids’ grubby hands and faces after a day at the playground or summer camp, as well as cleaning car seats.
During hot summer months, there’s nothing better than keeping a box in the fridge or ice chest (at the beach) to wipe down and cool off red, sweaty faces after a day outdoors.
They’re even gentle enough to use on babies bottoms or, ahem, even your own. (Guess what the active ingredient is for most over-the-counter hemorrhoid pads like Tucks? Yep, you guessed it – Witch hazel!) But still strong enough to clean kitchen countertops and other household surfaces.
Minsun Park is a blogger, writer and a black belt in taekwondo who gets her ass handed to her daily by her two sons. She’s written for iVillage, SheKnows, ePregnancy and is featured in “The Hot Mom’s Handbook” by Jessica Denay. She can also be found on Facebook and Twitter