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How to Make Disinfectant Wipes / Reusable DIY “Clorox” Wipes

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In this post: If you want to learn how to make disinfectant wipes that can be washed and reused, then you will love this recipe for REUSABLE DIY “Clorox”- type wipes! They even smell lemony-fresh!

*Please note: these disinfectant wipes have not been lab-tested. Use good judgement and always practice good cleaning and hygiene.  


The great thing about store-bought disinfectant wipes is that you know you are getting something clean when you use them. The bad thing about those same wipes is that they can cost a fair amount and they are going to our landfill because they can’t be reused. They have a place and a purpose for sure.

But if you want to learn how to make cleaning and disinfectant wipes that can be washed and reused, then you will love this recipe for REUSABLE DIY “Clorox”-type wipes!

If you want to learn how to make disinfectant wipes, then you will love this recipe for REUSABLE DIY Clorox Wipes! They even smell lemony-fresh!

The Difference Between Cleansing and Disinfecting

There is definitely a difference between cleaning a surface and disinfecting it.

According to Wikipedia:

  • Disinfectants are antimicrobial agents designed to inactivate or destroy microorganisms on inert surfaces. Disinfection does not necessarily kill all microorganisms…”
  • “The term cleanser refers to a product that cleans or removes dirt or other substances.”

If you want to make household cleansing wipes and aren’t worried about disinfecting, here’s a quick DIY:

  • Mix 2 cups of water with 3 teaspoons of Dawn dish soap and 10 drop of your favorite essential oil. Pour over washcloths in a sealable glass jar. Use as needed to clean surfaces. Then wash and remake. 

Types of Household Disinfectants

Of course, you can use store-bought disinfectants to clean and disinfect hard surfaces. But if you can’t find any, here are some guidelines for the ingredients you need when making your own (according to the the CDC).

Bleach

Solutions made of regular ol’ bleach can be used to disinfect, if appropriate for the surface.

Follow manufacturer’s instructions for using bleach and make sure you’re in a space with proper ventilation.

Never mix household bleach with ammonia or any other cleanser. 

To make a DIY bleach cleaner, mix:

  • 5 tablespoons (1/3rd cup) bleach per gallon of water
    OR
  • 4 teaspoons bleach per quart of water

Leave DIY bleach mixture on the surface for at least 1 minute.

Alcohol

Any DIY cleaners or disinfectants need to contain at least 70% alcohol. (Conversely, hand sanitizer needs to contain at minimum 60% alcohol.)

See below for making reusable disinfectant wipes. 

Where to  Find Alcohol

I know that a lot of places have recently been sold out of rubbing alcohol, so even making your own disinfectant wipes can be tricky. 

Here are some suggestions of places to look for alcohol:

  • your local grocery store
  • the drugstore/pharmacies
  • your corner store
  • online places like amazon (they have been working to reduce price gouging and to increase stock of essential items)
  • ULINE
  • office supply stores, like Staples
  • Walmart
  • Target
  • hardware stores

If you’re worried about germs and illnesses, wear disposable gloves while you clean surfaces. 

What About Essential Oils?

Some essential oils are said to have antiviral properties, along with antibacterial and antifungal properties.

An article in the American Journal of Essential Oils and Natural Products suggests that some essential oils may help fight flu viruses, though more research is necessary [source1source2].

However, I’m including a list of possible antiviral/antibacterial/antifungal essential oils here, in case you’d like to add them to your wipes for their scent or potential anti-germ properties: 

  • bergamot oil
  • eucalyptus oil
  • red thyme
  • cinnamon leaf
  • lemon
  • rosemary
  • peppermint
  • tea tree

Recommended Containers for Storing Your Wipes

I highly recommend using a sealable glass jar for your wipes. This will prevent any alcohol from evaporating and any essential oils from leaking out. 

How to Make Disinfectant Wipes – for Hard, Non-Porous Surfaces! 

*Please note: these disinfectant wipes have not been lab-tested. Use good judgement and always practice good cleaning and hygiene.  

Materials

Again, the CDC and others recommend wiping down frequently used surfaces daily, using a disinfectant with at least 70% alcohol (in order for them to be effective). 

Instructions

1. First decide how large you want your wipes. I cut most of my washcloths in half, but I left some full size for larger jobs.

2. Fill your jar with the washcloths.

3. In a bowl, mix together, rubbing alcohol, dish soap and lemon essential oil.

4. Pour the cleaning mix into the jar over the washcloths.

5. Put the lid on and use as needed. After your rags are dirty, just throw in the washing machine and remake as necessary!

If you want to learn how to make disinfectant wipes, then you will love this recipe for REUSABLE DIY Clorox Wipes! They even smell lemony-fresh!

How to Use Disinfectant Wipes

To use the wipes, wipe down high-touch, hard surfaces and leave ten minutes to dry. 

Surfaces to Clean with Disinfectant Wipes

The following are surfaces that are frequently touched throughout the day, and as such should be cleaned often:

  • tables
  • doorknobs
  • light switches
  • countertops
  • handles
  • desks
  • phones
  • keyboards
  • toilets,
  • faucets
  • sinks
  • etc.
cleaning wipes and dryer sheets

How to Make Disinfectant Wipes (Printable)

Yield: 10 wipes
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Active Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 15 minutes
Difficulty: Easy
Estimated Cost: $15 or less

If you want to learn how to make disinfectant wipes, then you will love this recipe for REUSABLE DIY “Clorox”-style Wipes! They even smell lemony-fresh!

Instructions

  1. First decide how large you want your wipes. I cut most of my washcloths in half, but I left some full size for larger jobs.
  2. Fill your jar with the washcloths.
  3. In a bowl, mix together rubbing alcohol, Dawn and lemon essential oil.
  4. Pour the cleaning mix into the jar over the washcloths.
  5. Put the lid on and use as needed. After your rags are dirty, just throw in the washing machine and remake as necessary!

Notes

*Please note: these disinfectant wipes have not been lab-tested. Use good judgement and always practice good cleaning and hygiene. 

To use wipes, wipe down hard, non-porous surfaces and leave ten minutes to dry.

Click here to get the fun & free printable cleaner labels.

A Note From Shannon

Hi all!

Okay, so here’s the thing. I’m not a scientist or a doctor. I’m just a wife and mom. My heart is to provide what little help I can in all this.

This wipes recipe was created two years ago, before everything that’s currently happening. The wipes definitely clean surfaces. And I’ve updated the “recipe” with the latest info. 

Does that mean they will kill everything? Not necessarily.

But they can help if you don’t have or can’t get the store-bought disinfecting wipes.

And they are washable, so they save waste.

I know we are all confused and stressed and doing the best we each can. Please use common sense and use what resources you have well. If that means you increase the alcohol to make yourself more comfortable, by all means do that.

Regular soap and warm water is said to destroy the current bug, so that could work too.

I really don’t have all the answers. But I hope the projects and things I have created here help you.

xo, Shannon

The Original Recipe

Some of you have emailed to ask me for the original version of this recipe. You know, the one from before we needed all the rubbing alcohol. So, I’ve added here just in case you still want to make it the old way:

  • 3 cups distilled water
  • ¾ cup rubbing alcohol
  • 6 tbsp Dawn
  • 10 drops Lemon Essential Oil
  • Washcloths
  • Glass jar

Mix everything together and pour over the wash cloths in the jar. 

*Note that we make no claims to the germ-killing effects of these wipes. 

If you want to learn how to make disinfectant wipes, then you will love this recipe for REUSABLE DIY Clorox Wipes! They even smell lemony-fresh!

After your rags are used, just throw in the washing machine on a hot water cycle and then remake as necessary!

Have you ever made your own cleaning or disinfectant wipes?

I'd love it if you'd share:

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Comments

  1. Faye says

    I’ve been thinking about doing this! I even have a jar that I got at the thrift store and some bar cloths to use. Just needed a recipe! Thanks!

  2. Colette says

    Thank you for the recipe! I already purchased the white washcloths.
    I am relatively new to your blog. I really enjoy it. Thank you for all your time and sharing your information.

  3. Sheri says

    So smart! I’m going to make some. Thank you for sharing at the To Grandma’s House We Go DIY, Crafts, Recipes and More link party! Pinned!

  4. Leilani says

    This is great, found you on the hop! Do you have some way of making them portable, like what container would you put them if you wanted to use them on the go? Thanks!

  5. Chrystal Millar says

    You had said once they get dirty to put them in the laundry. Is that after a 1 time use or if they smell bad or visibly dirty?

    • Shannon Acheson says

      That’s entirely up to you, Chrystal. And what you’re comfortable with. If you want to use them and wash them once and don’t find you use the whole cloth, you could always cut the cloths up smaller before adding the liquids.

  6. Marie says

    Hello ! I’m going to try that for sure !! I’m French, so i don’t have access to Dawm, would any liquid dish soap do the thing ? And I’m worried about residues left by the soap, do you need to rinse or is it all clear thanks to the alcohol ? Thanks for sharing !!!

    • Shannon Acheson says

      Hi! I’ve not tried them with any other dish soap. But you could try! I’ve not found any residue, but if you do, just use less soap in your next batch!

  7. Kim walker says

    When washing these, do you wash them in a separate load or do you throw them in with other clothes/similar colors?

  8. Mary says

    I just made this today, a double batch too, because I have almost 30 rages from old T-shirts. I’m just wondering if the cleaning solution is harmful to hands. I’m sure the answer is obviously no. It just checking. Thanks. Ps love it so far!

    • Mary says

      Thank you for the reply. Still going strong on the whips! Dries out my hands a little bit, but as soon as I wash my hands it’s ok. They’re great! Have a bit of residue sometimes but I think it’s because I squeeze them out too much so their sudsy. I am so sharing this with others! Especially mom friends! Thank you!!!!

  9. Emma Rose Balderson says

    I like this idea but dish soap bottles and rubbing alcohol bottles aren’t very zero waste since they are plastic…

  10. Leeanne says

    After you use one, do you throw it back in the same jar as the other un-used ones still soaking in the solution? If you use one, you don’t want it to dry out but I’m not sure if there would be any contamination if you threw it back in the solution containing the un-used cloths. Thanks!

  11. Leeanne says

    Apparently the concentration between 60% and 90% is the most effective for killing bacteria and viruses, and over 90% doesn’t kill as much bacteria as 70%. According to Lab Pro, a mixture of 30% water to 70% isopropyl alcohol works best.

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