Nobody likes having dirty, smelly hands after being in your chicken coop, which is why I developed a simple 2 ingredient hand wash that smells good and leaves you extra sparkly.
Now this isn’t to say that chickens are dirty – they’re sweet, intelligent, lovable creatures.
But I wouldn’t be a good expert if I didn’t advise you to wash your hands – and the hands of your little ones – after touching your hens.
The truth is that people CAN pick up yuckies from their backyard chickens, and it’s better to know that and work around it, rather than find out the hard way (like I once did….with a diaper full of the STINKIEST green poop I’m ever likely to experience in this lifetime – lesson learned, people.)
How can you protect yourself?
According to the Center for Disease Control, the best way to protect yourself after handling your chickens is to wash your hands with soap and water for 30 seconds, making sure to scrub your hands.
Is it a cure-all? No, but it’s better than not doing it, and hand scrubbing is scientifically proven to reduce diseases.
Bacteria can really become a problem when your hens have a high “bad bacteria” load in their guts. A simple way to counteract this is to give them probiotics.
The idea is the probiotics help good bacteria proliferate, which crowds out the “bad bacteria” such as salmonella, campylobacter, and E. coli.
2 ingredient all-natural hand wash
After using soap and water, you can follow up with a second wash that includes aloe and essential oils.
I only use a few drops and the bottles last quite a while. You can use any essential oil brand you like, just be sure the company is reputable and the oils are 100% pure.
Really do your homework, because the oils you see at big stores say they’re 100% pure on the box, but there’s no guarantee the oils in there are properly distilled or even the oils they claim on the label.
Which essential oils do I use?
I like using Young Living’s Thieves oil blend, which includes Clove, Lemon, Cinnamon, Eucalyptus Radiata, and Rosemary essential oils.
If you’re wondering about the name, it’s inspired by a story originating in the Middle Ages.
According to legend, thieves would use a combination that included of fresh spices, and the essential oils would keep them healthy as they pilfered the possessions of people who had died from the Black Plague.
The story goes that because of the combination, they didn’t get sick from the Yersinia pestis bacteria said to cause the disease that killed nearly 50% of Europe in the 1300s.
The other oil I like to use, Infect Away, is formulated specifically for animals (although it’s also great or people) and comes pre-diluted with a carrier oil.
You’ll also need aloe gel which will help soften and keep your skin healthy.
Making 2 ingredient hand wash
To 6 ounces of aloe gel, you can add 30 drops of your oil of choice. I like using Thieves so I use 30 drops of Thieves oil.
Shake to combine, and leave on your shelf to use after you wash your hands. You don’t need to wash your hands after putting the aloe gel mixture on; doing so would reduce the effect of the gel.
If I’m in a rush, I’ll just use the 2 ingredient hand wash.
If your hands have chicken poop on them, then by all means, don’t skip the soap and water step, though! The last thing you want is bacteria or some other parasite in YOUR body. (Yes, parasites can happen too, especially with children who have weaker immune systems than adults. Ask me how I know.)
My favorite 2 ingredient hand wash is also great after you come in from gardening or playing with other pets! I hope you enjoy making it!
Maat van Uitert is a backyard chicken and sustainable living expert. She is also the author of Chickens: Naturally Raising A Sustainable Flock, which was a best seller in it’s Amazon category. Maat has been featured on NBC, CBS, AOL Finance, Community Chickens, the Huffington Post, Chickens magazine, Backyard Poultry, and Countryside Magazine. She lives on her farm in Southeast Missouri with her husband, two children, and about a million chickens and ducks. You can follow Maat on Facebook here and Instagram here.