Summary: A different type of hand cleaner with an environmentally conscious formulation works very well.
You know it must be the dead of winter when I’m writing and you’re reading a 500+ word article about hand cleaners!
But this product is different enough to deserve a close look.
Besides, it was developed by the same person who developed the Metal Master and Britemax polishes that were named as Best in Class in webBikeWorld reviews, so we were intrigued.
Note that the product is also found under the name HandKind Scrub.
Background Back when motorcycles had carburetors and tires had tubes, a mechanic’s hands and forearms would look black as coal by the end of a shift.
An end-of-day wash session featuring Lava hand soap or Goop or Go-Jo waterless hand cleaners might loosen the surface grime, but just barely. You could spot a mechanic from 20 paces just by looking at his hands.
I worked as a machinist for a number of years and my hands would look the same. The closest sink was a long walk away in the washroom and the only soap was Boraxo, purchased in bulk and poured into a huge canister mounted over the single round common tub. Step on the foot lever and lukewarm water appeared. Thus, my hands became clean, relatively speaking, for lunch (at 1:30 am during the night shift) and the end of the work day.
The dirt was so baked in that I went on a Caribbean vacation once and after a week at the beach, all of a sudden I realized my hands and fingernails were clean for the first time in years.
The mechanics and machinists of today are smarter. They use rubber or nitrile protective gloves, which do more than keep their hands clean; they also serve as a barrier against chemicals and other nasties that, as we now know, can cause cancer.
I’m not sure how the use of protective gloves has affected sales of professional strength hand cleaners, but there are still a lot of dirty hands out there on hard-working men and women everywhere, no doubt about it.
But hand cleaners are hand cleaners, no? I’ll admit I haven’t spent much time thinking about this topic — one was just about as good as another, or so I thought. Well, apparently someone has thought about it. Obsessively.
The result is Hand Kind Hand Cleaner, which really is different — and once I started to learn more about those differences, I became a believer. The fact that the product works so well doesn’t hurt either!
So what makes Hand Kind Hand Cleaner so different? There are several interesting features to explain, but for me, the most noticeable difference is in the abrasives that are used in the formula.
One of the features of other hand cleaners that I hadn’t given much thought to before was a consideration of the type of abrasives used in the formula.
Hand Kind is claimed to be 99.3% biodegradable with nearly 100% of the ingredients “derived from natural and sustainable resources”. What that means is that in this case, the abrasive is — are you ready for this — ground walnut shells!
The use of walnut shells definitely makes Hand Kind feel different, because the tiny nuggets o’ walnut are larger than what I now know are the non-biodegradable (and bleached for looks) polypropylene abrasives used in lesser brands.
I had no idea that the abrasives commonly used in hand cleaners are made from plastic, but think about this: about a bazillion people wash their hands each day (hopefully more than once), using all manner of soaps and hand cleaners. And all of the abrasive and chemical residue goes — you guessed it — right down the drain and into the environment.
So using ground walnut shells as an abrasive suddenly makes a lot of sense, because unlike polypropylene, the walnut shells are indeed biodegradable.
Most of the other ingredients used in the Hand Kind formula are also biodegradable. Don’t worry though — I’m sure you’ve probably tried some of these “green” cleaning products that make you feel good but which don’t actually work very well. The Hand Kind Hand Cleaner does indeed work, and not just because of the walnut shell abrasive.
Hand Kind says that the product was originally developed for the military to help remove “toxic heavy metal ions” which can build up on the skin as a result of the apparently strange activities we all take part in lately that put those filthy ions on our hands. Hand Kind was designed to remove these ions — along with your basic garden-variety forms of dirt.
One thing I noticed right away is that it doesn’t take much Hand Kind to do the job. I’m not sure if it’s the formulation or if it’s the the walnut shell abrasives, but only a tiny amount is necessary. In fact, the first photo of the squiggly of Hand Kind is probably twice what is necessary for a single hand wash.
Another feature that makes Hand Kind different is that it does not contain the moisturizers that are commonly found (and often trumpeted) in off-the-shelf hand cleaner brands.
When you think about it, many of the common brands of hand cleaners (and dishwashing liquids) are marketed and sold more on their claims of hand moisturizing capability than performance.
Hand Kind said that the moisturizers found in most of those formulas do not remain on the skin long enough to much of do anything, which makes sense when you think about it. After all, it’s a hand soap, you’re washing your hands and the stuff goes right down the drain — it doesn’t stay on your hands.
They also claim that Hand Kind has “a unique blend of intense humectant skin treatments that actually promote the skin’s own moisturizing properties” (A humectant is defined as “A substance having affinity for water with stabilizing action on the water content of a material”). OK, I guess I’ll have to take their word on that one…
By the way, even though the walnut shell abrasive feels larger than you might expect to find in a hand cleaner, Hand Kind says that the smaller polypropylene abrasives can actually cause tearing and wear on the skin, while the walnut shells are specially sized and ground to keep the edges at a particular amount of sharpness (or dullness).
They also claim that the walnut shell material is a better exfoliator of dead skin cells, which then allows more contact between the humectant and helps remove the ions more effectively.
The company does claim that the use of Hand Kind Hand Cleaner will “help repair damaged and cracked skin”. They explained the process starts with the “unique feeling” that Hand Kind leaves on the skin. This is another one of the differentiators; Hand Kind says that comparisons with off-the-shelf products like Go-Jo or Fast Orange are difficult to make, because “those products strip essential components of the skin and Hand Kind actually repairs it”.
“It feels slippery when you’re rinsing and then when dry, very grippy but smooth”, I was told. “That is what the skin’s acid mantle feels like when it is not being disrupted, basically bringing back your natural grip and skin pliability.
That slippery feeling is not the product but the skin intensely hanging on to moisture, hence, no dry skin. Big difference between a moisturizer and a true skin treatment. No industrial hand cleaners use this process.”
See? I told you someone has done a lot of thinking about hand cleaners! All of this would be immaterial if the stuff didn’t work, but it does. It has a slight citrus smell that is pleasant without being over-powerful. I’m glad it doesn’t have the heavy perfume scent of other hand cleaners, or the Busted Knuckle Garage “waterless” hand cleaner we reviewed some time ago, which smells so bad I haven’t used it since.
Note also that Hand Kind is not called a “waterless” hand cleaner, which is somewhat of a misnomer anyway, because I don’t know of anyone who wants to leave something like Go-Jo on the hands without cleaning it off, if only to get rid of the smell.
Hand Kind also claims that the product is “very easy on the skin” and that it “can be used many times per day” on any part of the body (although there are probably some parts of the body I’m not sure I’d want to be scrubbing with walnut shell abrasives!).
A very different hand cleaner that works very well. A little really does go a long way, so the price is not unreasonable, especially considering the 24 fluid ounce bottle (709 ml) which should last a long time. The environmental aspects of the product are also enticing, but wouldn’t mean much if it didn’t work. It does.