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DIY Disinfecting Wipes (Natural & Reusable)

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These DIY disinfecting wipes make it easy to keep your home clean without problematic chemicals. They’re easy to make, natural, and reusable — just wash and re-use! Our homemade cleaning wipes are made without vinegar, so they’re safe for use even on porous surfaces like marble & granite. Read on to learn how to make your own disinfecting wipes with essential oils.

DIY cleaning wipes made with vodka, essential oils and castile soapWhile store-bought disinfecting wipes may be handy for quick cleanups, they’re definitely not eco-friendly or good for your respiratory health.

It’s safer to make DIY disinfecting wipes for light clean-ups using non-toxic ingredients such as vodka, castile soap and antibacterial essential oils.

Numerous studies have shown that common household cleaning products, including store-brand sanitizing wipes, can actually induce asthma or other respiratory problems in otherwise healthy individuals.

Additionally, the fumes from many store bought cleaning products can trigger an attack in those already suffering from a respiratory condition.

Undisclosed ingredients in commercial disinfecting wipes

To add to the confusion, manufacturers are allowed to keep consumers in the dark about exactly what’s in their cleaning products. Unfortunately, current guidelines do not require that ingredient information be disclosed on the product’s label.

Recently, more and more cleaning product companies have begun to provide some ingredient information on their company websites. However, often these lists are not specific.

The Environmental Working Group site is a go-to for the ingredient lists manufacturers are allowed to leave off their labels. The EWG also provides consumers additional info — such as the side effects and potential toxicity of each ingredient.

Here is a handy list of many popular commercial wipe brands and their ingredients.

Anyway, if reading about the toxic chemicals in cleaning products comes across as fear-mongering, or if you’re thinking, “but how are these homemade wipes going to disinfect my counters?” Well, studies have shown that many essential oils do have antibacterial, anti-fungal and antiviral benefits.

DIY disinfecting wipes with essential oils

Top antibacterial essential oils for homemade cleaning wipes

The following essential oils (in no particular order) fight bacteria and household odours without any of the negative side effects of store bought household cleaners.

It’s important to note that essential oils are only a supplement to the disinfecting properties of the alcohol.

You can make disinfecting wipes with essential oils as long as your wipes recipe also contains effective disinfectants such as high-proof vodka (or rubbing alcohol). Please do not rely on essential oils as your sole disinfectant, especially during an active virus outbreak.

Additionally, you can also substitute the essential oils included in the recipe below for any other combination of antibacterial essential oils from this list:

  • Eucalyptus
  • Lemongrass
  • Tea Tree Oil
  • Grapefruit
  • Palmarosa
  • Cinnamon
  • Rosemary
  • Bergamot
  • Orange
  • Clove
  • Oregano
  • Thyme
  • Basil
  • Lavender
  • Peppermint

Surprisingly, numerous studies have shown that cinnamon is actually the best performing antibacterial essential oil.

Homemade cleaning wipes with essential oils

Ingredients for DIY disinfecting wipes

I always use high-proof vodka in my homemade disinfecting wipes which is a more natural disinfectant. Vodka also acts as a non-toxic preservative which prevents the growth of mold and pathogens.

However, the alcohol content of the brand of vodka you use for this recipe is very important.

The brand must be at least 70% alcohol, as this is the minimum required percentage needed for killing a broad range of bacteria and viruses while cleaning. This includes bacteria such as E. coli and lipophilic viruses such as influenza.

Vodka brands that meet the guidelines for high alcohol content include:

  • Everclear – 95% alcohol or 190 proof
  • Spirytus Rektyfikowany – 96% alcohol or 192 proof
  • Devil Springs Vodka – 80% alcohol or 160 proof
  • Good ol’ Sailor Vodka – 85% vodka or 175 proof
  • Balkan 176 – 88% alcohol or 176 proof
  • Pincer Vodka – 88% alcohol or 176 proof

If desired, you can substitute the vodka in this recipe for isopropyl alcohol (or rubbing alcohol). However, keep in mind that Isopropyl alcohol is highly flammable, easily absorbed through the skin, and its fumes can cause dizziness and migraine headaches in some people.

Also, isopropyl or rubbing alcohol is highly toxic if consumed, while vodka (or ethyl alcohol) is safe for human consumption.

Homemade DIY disinfecting wipes made with vodka

Not that you will be drinking your wipe mixture, but if you’re going to wipe down surfaces where little mouths will be, it’s safer to use vodka.

I’ve recently seen DIY wipes recipes containing both vinegar and castile soap, but mixing vinegar with castile soap will cause your mixture to curdle. As well, the acidic vinegar and alkaline soap will neutralize one another, rendering their cleaning abilities useless.

Additionally, vinegar is not safe for stone countertops. So, if you have stone countertops, be wary of any DIY cleaning wipes recipes that contain vinegar. That said, vinegar is still a great natural cleaner and it is safe for many household surfaces.

Save money on cleaning wipes with reusable cloths

You can also save money by making these DIY disinfecting wipes, as the t-shirt squares (or cloths) used in this recipe can be washed and then reused in a subsequent batch. This also means that these wipes are compatible with an eco-friendly, low-waste lifestyle.

Homemade natural cleaning and disinfecting wipes

If you don’t have any old t-shirts on hand or if you would prefer a thicker cloth, there are also many varieties of reusable cloths available depending on your preference.

Heavy-duty microfibre cloths, cotton wipes and biodegradable bamboo cloths are just some of the choices available.

DIY disinfecting wipes in a mason jar

How to use these sanitizing wipes

Before using your wipes, thoroughly clean and scrub the area of any food particles, grease or grime, using a combination of soap and water. Any dirt or debris left on your surface will affect the disinfecting capabilities of your wipes so this is an important step.

You can keep these wipes in your bathroom or kitchen cupboard for quick, light cleanups of household surfaces prone to germs. If convenience is a plus for you, these DIY disinfecting wipes can also be used on the go, and you can trust them to be free of harsh antibacterial agents like triclosan.

These wipes are also safe enough to be used on hands, but be sure to use essential oils that are safer for skin such as peppermint, lavender, tea tree and eucalyptus, and don’t touch your face or eyes after use.

Although, it should be noted that soap and hot water is preferable for cleaning your hands. However, these wipes are better than nothing when you’re not near a sink.

DISCLAIMER: These cleaning wipes have not been lab-tested to determine their efficiency against viruses so please do not use them for this purpose. Any product used to deal with viruses must include at least 70% alcohol content as recommended by the CDC and other health organizations.

How to make natural, reusable, non-toxic wipes in a mason jar
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DIY Disinfecting Wipes (Natural & Reusable)

These homemade disinfecting wipes clean and sanitize hands and household surfaces without chemicals. Made with vodka, castile soap and essential oils instead of harsh antibacterial agents. No isopropyl alcohol! Eco-friendly, reusable and non-toxic.
Prep Time10 mins
Total Time10 mins
Course: Green Cleaning, Green Living
Cuisine: DIY Products
Servings: 1 batch
Author: Kim @ A Life Adjacent

What You'll Need

Ingredients

Supplies

Instructions

  • Pour the vodka into your sterilized mason jar.
    Homemade DIY disinfecting wipes made with vodka
  • Add the essential oils which will combine easily with the alcohol. Shake vigorously to combine.
    Homemade cleaning wipes with essential oils
  • Add your soap and then gently swirl it into the mixture. Please note, shaking will cause the castile soap to sud.
    DIY cleaning wipes with castile soap
  • Roll your cloths as shown in the photo and place them in the mason jar.
    Homemade reusable cleaning wipes
  • Replace the lid and again swirl gently so the cloths become soaked with the liquid.
  • Store your sanitizing wipes with the lid tightly secured in a cool, dark place such as under the kitchen or bathroom sink.

Notes

Your DIY sanitizing wipes should last approximately 3-4 weeks if stored correctly.
 
We do not recommend storing products with high concentrations of essential oils in plastic bottles or containers. We use glass storage containers for all of our DIY products with essential oils, as essential oils are extremely potent and can leach toxins from plastic containers.
 
Please consult with your health care provider about using essential oils, especially if you’re pregnant or breastfeeding, have allergies, or have small children in your home. Certain essential oils such as rosemary, clove and eucalyptus are contradicted for use during pregnancy. As well, certain essential oils such as rosemary, peppermint, oregano and eucalyptus should be avoided, or used with caution around children under 10.

More DIY cleaning recipes

Looking for more eco-friendly cleaning and home ideas? Check these out:

For even more natural cleaning ideas, follow us on Pinterest! You can also find us on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.

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Alisha

Friday 6th of March 2020

If I do not wish to have any type of high proof alcohol in my home, is there a possible substitute for the vodka?

Lorri

Monday 27th of July 2020

@Alisha, Results taken from the website https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5074231/

The initial hand imprint plates for MRSA and VRE showed confluent growth. After disinfection with alcohol, activated hydrogen peroxide and 3.1% hydrogen peroxide, there was no growth seen on any of the post spray hand imprint plates.

The initial agar plates for the finger imprint cultures for C. difficile showed between 9 and 438 colonies. Alcohol spray had a statistically non-significant reduction in the growth of C. difficile on the post hand imprint agar plates (average p = 0.66). However, activated hydrogen peroxide and 3.1% hydrogen peroxide significantly reduced and eliminated transmission of C. difficile respectively (P < 0.05)

I think peroxide would be a good choice for spraying as a disinfectant.

Kim

Saturday 7th of March 2020

Hi Alisha, Since the vodka is important for disinfecting, I don't know what else to suggest. I know some people substitute rubbing alcohol for the vodka but since the fumes of rubbing alcohol trigger a migraine for me, I don't use it. Sorry I can't be of more help!

Saskia

Monday 17th of February 2020

I am definitely going to try this. Thank you for the clear instructions. Would water that has been boiled work as well instead of distilled water? I am trying to reduce my waste, especially plastics.

Kim

Monday 17th of February 2020

Hi Saskia, that should be fine. Distilled water is free of all impurities while boiled water is technically not. Boiled water will still contain some mineral impurities. That said, using boiled water should be sufficient for cleaning as the vodka and essential oils in the recipe will also help with disinfection. I definitely understand wanting to reduce plastic waste. Thanks so much for reading and commenting!

Shelley

Saturday 12th of October 2019

Stupid ? Is any oil toxic to cats and dogs?

Kim

Saturday 12th of October 2019

Yes, some essential oils are definitely toxic to pets. I'd do a quick google search. We don't have pets so we don't know the full list off hand. Good luck!

Gitana

Saturday 21st of September 2019

How should a wipe be handled after it is used? After using it, you just throw it in with the laundry, wash it then roll it and place it back in the jar with the other wipes? Or should I wait until all the wipes are used, then wash them and start a new batch? Inquiring minds want to know.

Kim

Saturday 21st of September 2019

Hi there, we don't recommend putting a used wipe in with the clean wipes. Use a separate container with a lid to store the used wipes until laundry day. Then give them a quick rinse in the sink before washing them in hot water. We usually wait until all our wipes are used and then we wash them before making a fresh batch. Thanks for your question!

Lisa Love

Saturday 21st of September 2019

Hello: Love this recipe and can't wait to try it. I am wondering why you use three kinds of essential oils. Would the wipes still be effective if only one kind of essential oil was used? Thank you!!

Lorri

Monday 27th of July 2020

@Kim, if you have already washed the surface with soap and water does the solution require the Castile soap? For hand wipes could you possibly mix the vodka with pure aloe? I’m happy that you're posting safer alternatives to store bought products. Far more eco and financially friendly too.

Lorri

Monday 27th of July 2020

@Kim, tea tree oil can be an extreme irritant to skin. The essential oils are more for scent as the alcohol content (60% or more, I use 91% isopropyl alcohol) is what kills the germs.

Kim

Saturday 21st of September 2019

Yes, we think the wipes would still be effective with one essential oil. We would recommend using one from the list of the best antibacterial oils included in this post (or the oils from the recipe). Studies appear to indicate that tea tree and cinnamon perform the best as antibacterial agents which is why we often include one when making cleaning products. But the scent of tea tree tends to be overpowering alone so we usually blend it with another oil. However, again any of the oils from the list in this post (or the recipe) should do the job as long as your mixture includes high proof vodka. Thanks for reading and commenting!

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