How to Make Natural Disinfecting Wipes for Home Cleaning

How to Make Natural Disinfecting Wipes for Home Cleaning

Those ready-made disinfecting wipes in the plastic containers can be so convenient for sanitizing and eliminating messes. Our family doesn’t use toxic conventional cleaners anymore, and with a large family the cost of natural store-bought cleaners adds up fast. These natural disinfecting wipes are super simple to throw together and are a safe, effective solution to clean surfaces around the home.

Disinfecting Wipes with Essential Oils

Many of my cleaning products (and beauty products) contain essential oils. When used properly, they can be potent germ killers that are still safe to use around little ones. All essential oils are anti-microbial to some degree, but lemon and tea tree are the most frequently used for cleaning. Both of these oils have a wide degree of safety for all ages when used as a surface cleanser. When these essential oils are combined, they may provide powerful protection against a wide array of pathogens, including potentially E. coli, MRSA, and salmonella.

Soap Is Safer

A recent FDA decision to ban several antibacterial soap ingredients caused quite a stir! Their decision was based on a lack of evidence for the long term safety of these antibacterial substances. In collaboration with the EPA, they also found some potential risks of these chemicals.

The official release also stated that evidence shows that at least for hand washing, plain soap and water is as effective as antibacterial soap when used correctly.

Of course, disinfecting surfaces is important, especially when it comes to surfaces touched by raw meat. Other types of household cleaning also require a little more power than traditional soap and water. Unfortunately, exposure to disinfecting household cleaners can damage the bacterial balance on the skin. I’ve been using effective natural alternatives (like this recipe) for years in place of harsh disinfectants.

Castile Soap and Vinegar Are Not Friends

I’m a big believer in the power of vinegar. A lot of cleaning recipes use vinegar as a disinfectant, but vinegar and soap do not mix when it comes to cleaners. Since this recipe for natural disinfecting wipes also uses castile soap to break down greasy residues, vinegar won’t work here. (Lisa Bronner, from the Dr. Bronner soap family, spells out why vinegar and soap don’t work together as a cleaner in this article.)

Alcohol: Not Just for Drinking

Since there’s no vinegar in this recipe, alcohol serves instead as a disinfectant and degreaser. Alcohol evaporates quickly, allowing the cleaning solution to dry fast. (Certain rooms, like bathrooms, benefit from a fast drying cleaner to help prevent mildew growth due to wet surfaces).

Many people have isopropyl or rubbing alcohol around, but this recipe calls for another kind of alcohol … vodka!

Natural Disinfecting Wipes Recipe

Ever since having children, I started making my own homemade baby wipes, so it only made sense to create natural disinfecting wipes for our kitchen as well! I am comfortable using these and have never had a problem using natural disinfectants like this. Please note that these are not broad spectrum disinfectants like those used in hospitals and should not be treated as such. This recipe is designed for household use and not as disinfecting wipes for skin.

DIY Disinfecting Wipes Ingredients

Materials

  • About 6 store-bought washcloths (the cheap, thin ones) or 12 large t-shirt fabric squares
  • Glass container with a sealable lid (about a 2-quart capacity)
  • Large mixing bowl

Instructions

  1. In a bowl add the soap, water, alcohol, and essential oils. Stir well to combine.
  2. Place two of the washcloths or fabric squares into the glass container, then pour about 1/3 of the cleaning solution over them. Repeat this process until all of the cloths and solution has been used. (This approach guarantees evenly wet wipes.)
  3. Put the lid on the container and move the container around, tipping it upside down and back again to make sure the cloths are fully saturated.

How to Use the Natural Disinfecting Wipes

  • Remove a wipe from the container, and wring any excess liquid out over the other wipes. Use it to disinfect and clean surfaces around the house.
  • Since these natural disinfecting wipes are sturdier than the store-bought disposable ones, they hold up to scrubbing surfaces much better.
  • Test any new surfaces in an inconspicuous location if there’s any concern the wipe could damage the material or surface to be cleaned.
  • To wash: Launder with other kitchen towels. I always keep a small laundry basket on hand in my pantry for towels and wipes. I wash them together in hot water with a splash of hydrogen peroxide and regular laundry detergent.

Other Natural Disinfectants to Keep on Hand

These wipes are my go-to cleaners for most kitchen messes. I also keep white vinegar and hydrogen peroxide on hand for big kitchen messes.

White Vinegar

Vinegar is used in food preservation for a reason: it inhibits bacterial growth. It isn’t technically a disinfectant, but it is an effective degreaser that has some antibacterial power too. I keep a bottle of white vinegar in a spray bottle in our kitchen for use on sticky messes, grease, and sometimes as a first pass on raw meat before using these wipes.

Hydrogen Peroxide

Another natural disinfectant that I keep in the kitchen is hydrogen peroxide. I add a spray bottle top to a regular hydrogen peroxide bottle and use this to disinfect cutting boards and raw meat dishes before washing them regularly. We use food-grade hydrogen peroxide to keep our pool clean without chlorine too! Now that I keep this 35% food grade peroxide on hand, I can make a stronger concentration for use in the kitchen. Just make sure to always store hydrogen peroxide in a dark colored opaque bottle to keep it from breaking down in light.

What are your favorite natural cleaning tips? Are natural disinfectants part of your routine? Let me know!

Sources:

Aromatherapy for Health Professionals – by Shirley Price and Len Price

Made the switch to nontoxic cleaning products and need a substitute for Lysol? Try these easy to make disinfecting wipes with natural cleaning power!

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Reader Comments

  1. Question: Is it possible to use Everclear (grain alcohol) instead of Vodka? I don’t have vodka on hand, but I do have Everclear from another fragrance project and I’ll never use it again, so I thought this could be what I could use it for, instead of just throwing it away.

    • Everclear is my preference because it’s higher in alcohol than vodka and dries with zero residue. I use it to make hand sanitizer spray (with colloidal silver and a “thieves’ oil” type of essential oil blend). A friend of mine who is an electronics specialist suggested that I use everclear because of the zero-resident factor. Works great.

  2. why not use as a spray? without all the work of creating wipes?

    • You can definitely use it as a spray, some people just prefer using wipes 🙂

  3. Why can’t you use rubbing alcohol? I abstain from drinking alcohol and I don’t want it in my home not even for cleaning or any diy projects.
    I’ve always understood rubbing alcohol can be a substitute for vodka in these kinds of recipes.

    • It can. I just prefer not to use rubbing alcohol in the kitchen since it technically can’t be consumed and I stick to food safe products even in ktichen cleaning.

  4. I really like Norwex cloths since with just water, surfaces come clean to restaurant and hospital standards, even the heart surgery area in Norwegian hospitals (where Norwex is from). It can also completely pick up grease like butter or coconut oil with no greasy feeling left.
    By the way, I don’t sell it! Just like it!
    They last a long time and even took Sharpie permanent marker off the wood on the front of our piano where a grandkid scribbled and smoke residue off a neighbor’s microwave that nothing else worked on!!! In fact, when tested against H2O2 and vinegar with those test strips inspectors use on restaurant surfaces, Norwex did a better and more thorough job! It is amazing! There are silver fibers in them so bacteria gets captured first of all and then as it sits in the cloth the silver kills the microbes! I do make soap and wash my cloths out with that and do the boiling thing on all cloths of any type, which revitalizes Norwex..
    I make sure I store my 35% H2O2 WHERE A CHILD COULD NEVER GET IT in its original bottle. I have heard of a child that drank some of the 35% and died. It is super powerful and dangerous in its non-diluted strength and can burn straight through many surfaces.I have a degree in Chemistry so I am very interested in these details! Lol!
    Anyway, just cleaning with water really appeals to me and majorly reduces all chemicals in our home!

  5. I was just thinking the other day that it would be nice to have some pre-moistened cloths to use for cleaning up messes, This recipe looks great! Do you have to worry about mold or mildew eventually? Or does the alcohol prevent that?

    • I have this same question! How long do they last in the container for?

  6. I’m always afraid to try recipes like this for cleaning. I’ve read these ingredients are bad for granite and wood, any truth to that? I’d love to have some other natural cleaning choices!

  7. Hi Katie:

    I’ve followed your blog for years and absolutely love it! You have inspired me to maintain a more natural household and lifestyle and I can’t thank you enough.

    Question…I read your article on homemade baby wipes but could not post a comment. I love these wipes but can you recommend a safe store bought brand for travel? Even something more like hand wipes?

    • I usually stick to one of these two:

      -https://www.amazon.com/Babyganics-Wipes-Fragrance-Contains-100-Count/dp/B0042RJR74/ref=as_li_ss_tl?th=1&linkCode=ll1&tag=wellnessmama-20&linkId=cce917c8cbd03aad2827d8eafbe734de

      -https://www.amazon.com/Seventh-Generation-Strong-Refill-Packaging/dp/B009D028GC/ref=as_li_ss_tl?ie=UTF8&linkCode=ll1&tag=wellnessmama-20&linkId=c554808a6ac4aece62f698ab017cbf37

  8. Why not use the rubbing alcohol? I absolutely do not use/make anything with drinking alcohol due to a recovering alcoholic family member.

      • I make a countertop spray with diluted rubbing alcohol and essential oils. I didn’t come across anything online indicating the rubbing alcohol being an issue on food surfaces…perhaps I missed some information? It would be much appreciated if you could explain why you keep it away from food surfaces! Thanks!

        • I just try to stick to substances that are safe enough to consume internally for the kitchen, even for cleaning (whenever possible). A lot of people use rubbing alcohol and it is certainly cheaper, so it is largely personal preference.

  9. Hi Katie–I love your articles…thank you for sharing. Instead of the alcohol, could you use hydrogen peroxide?

    I fed my dogs the raw diet. I’ve been using white vinegar rinse on all my equipment however, I see that you stated it’s not a disinfectant. (I thought it was) Of course, I wash everything in hot soapy water before and rinse everything thoroughly after. I haven’t had any issues but I think I’d feel better using this recipe instead. (i.e. cutting boards, grinding parts, countertops, bowls, etc.)

    Thank you in advance.

    • Hydrogen peroxide is great but it won’t work the same in this recipe. It loses its effectiveness quickly when it touches light or air. If you are wanting to just use it, I’d put a spray bottle top on a regular (brown opaque) bottle of hydrogen peroxide and use it as a cleaning spray and just wipe down after spraying.

  10. Do you have an example of the glass storage container with lid that you use?

  11. The best part is this week i was thinking to myself that I wish wellness mama did a post on this. THANK YOU <3

  12. White vinegar paragraph: last line – I think you meant to say “surfaces touched by raw meat” rather than just “raw meat.” As written, it sounds lie you’re advocating using these wipes on the raw meat itself.

  13. I like this idea of easily available cleaning wipes.
    Because the blend uses drinking alcohol, do we need to replace it regularly to avoid spoilage?
    If there’s at least 50% alcohol which is antibacterial, if we wished to reduce the cost by omitting the essential oils, do you think this will still be effective?

    • The essential oils add a nice scent and a little bit of extra germ fighting, but you are right that the alcohol is the active ingredient. So you could definitely omit them if you prefer.

  14. Are these 2 oils in wipe recipe safe around cats?

  15. Can you make any recommendations for if I want to make a similar spray for surfaces in a medical office? I am a Naturopath and generally avoid the chemical medical sprays and wipes but would like to have some confidence in what I am using in the office.
    I found your “stronger hand sanitizing spray” recipe with alcohol and essential oils and aloe gel. Any other suggestions?
    Jessie Speirs ND

    • You could try a food grade hydrogen peroxide spray in a high dilution or any alcohol based formula with a high enough concentration should work.

  16. I don’t want to buy alcohol, expensive and I was almost an alcoholic!! So won’t use this recipe for cleaning!!

    Plus against my religion!!

  17. I’m curious why you keep rubbing alcohol away from food surfaces.

  18. How long have you found the wipes can store? Have you ever tried more than 6 so that they can be made less frequently? Thank you.

  19. Hi Katie, My family and I will be traveling a LOT this summer. How would this work as a traveling toilet seat spray? Would it clean the seat quick enough for it to be immediately sat on after a spray and wipe? Also, where did you find your storage container? If this works quick enough I may use some of our old t-shirts as “disposable” wipes so we can clean the seats and dump the t-shirt scraps when done.

    • It would probably work, but I usually just keep a spray bottle of natural disinfectant for this.

  20. Hello, great recipe, I can’t wait to try it! I just have one question regarding the essential oils. I thought that the only way to safely dilute essential oils was in water? Do they dilute fine in the soap as well?

    • Water is actually not a good way to dilute essential oils as they won’t actually dilute and will float on top of the water. From a chemistry standpoint, alcohol works much better (which is why it is in this recipe) and mixing EOs and alcohol first allows them to dilute in water much more effectively. Soap is chemically also better for dilution for this reason.

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