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How to Make DIY Disinfectant Wipes

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If you have already made DIY hand sanitizer at home with the help of a fresh Aloe Vera plant and you’ve even read up on everything you need to know about using vinegar as a disinfectant (or not using vinegar to ward off the coronavirus), maybe it’s time to get a bit more fancy with your at-home DIY sanitization skills.

In the wake of the coronavirus outbreak, so many of us are having to resort to products and items we don’t normally use. As different cleaning supplies and craft supplies fly off the shelves, we may not always have the opportunity to be as “clean” or “non-toxic” or even as “sustainable” as we truly want to be. 

That’s okay. This is undeniably a weird time and we have to do what we have to do. But if you’re hellbent on disinfecting your home in a way that is both safe and sustainable, even with limited resources due to COVID-19, here’s a sure-fire DIY disinfectant wipe recipe that will clean your home, disinfect your home, and keep you feeling good about its ingredients.

What’s the difference between cleaning and disinfecting?

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So, you’re all, “I’m cleaning my house constantly. I have nothing to worry about,” right? Wrong. There is a significant difference between cleaning and disinfecting. If you’re doing the former and not the latter, your house (and all of its germy surfaces) may not be as safe as you think.

Essentially, the difference between cleaning and disinfecting is that your average multi-surface cleaners remove dirt and other gritty substances off of a surface whereas disinfectant includes an antimicrobial agent that kills certain microorganisms.

Disinfecting kills germs and other microorganisms that can get you sick but cleaning only removes dirt and grime on a surface level. In these disparaging times, cleaning is simply not enough. If you aren’t already, it’s time to start regularly disinfecting.

How to make reusable cleansing wipes:

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If the distinction between cleaning and disinfecting doesn’t bother you, or maybe if you prefer to do a mix of both, we’ll start you off with a reusable cleansing wipe recipe that is both easy and inexpensive, as you probably already have all the materials in your home.

To make reusable cleansing wipes, you will need the following:

  • 2 cups water 
  • 3 tsp Dawn dish soap
  • 10 drops essential oil

You will also need a glass jar to keep your reusable wipes in and some washcloths. Washcloths are the main material here, as they are what makes the cleansing wipes reusable and therefore more sustainable than single-use wipes.

To make cleansing wipes, mix your 2 cups of water with the Dawn dish soap. Add about 10 drops of an essential oil such as citrus, eucalyptus, thyme, cinnamon, or lemongrass. According to the American Journal of Essential Oil and Natural Products, these essential oils in particular have exemplified flu-fighting properties. Place all of your washcloths into a glass jar, then pour the water-soap-essential oil mixture over the top of it. Seal the jar, then use your reusable cleansing wipes whenever you need them. Once you use them, they can be washed, but when they are done in the laundry, you will have to remake the cleansing solution and add both the cloth and the solution to a jar again to soak.

It’s important to note that since these cleansing washcloths only use soap as a main ingredient and not a disinfecting agent, this recipe is for cleansing washcloths only. They will not disinfect your surfaces. Keep reading for a recipe on reusable disinfectant wipes.

How to make reusable disinfectant wipes:

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Source: iStock

Now that you have mastered making DIY reusable cleansing wipes, the recipe for making disinfectant wipes is not much different. The main difference here is that disinfectant wipes will use a disinfecting agent that can kill off some harmful microorganisms that may be living on surfaces in your home. In this case, that main disinfecting ingredient is rubbing alcohol.

To make reusable disinfectant wipes, you will need:

  • 2 cups rubbing alcohol 
  • 3 tsp Dawn dish soap
  • 10 drops essential oil

Before we get into how to make reusable disinfectant wipes, let’s go over a few things; first, make sure the rubbing alcohol you use is (at the very least) 70 percent alcohol. It’s the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s specific recommendation that if you are using alcohol-based solutions to disinfect your house, you should use alcohol that is at least 70 percent. 

Secondly, when it comes to adding your essential oils to the DIY disinfectant wipes, you can use any of the aforementioned essential oils that are generally known for combating the influenza virus — citrus, eucalyptus, thyme, cinnamon, and lemongrass. However, if you want to best imitate something like Clorox wipes, a lemon essential oil is probably the way to go, for both its scent and its antimicrobial properties.

You’re going to make your DIY disinfectant wipes basically the same way as the cleansing wipes. First fill a glass jar with several washcloths. The more washcloths you have in there, the less laundry you’ll have to do before running out of reusable wipes. Next, mix the 2 cups of rubbing alcohol (at least 70 percent), 3 teaspoons of Dawn, and 10 essential oil drops in a bowl. Pour the disinfecting mixture over the washcloths in the jar, then seal the jar closed. Use your washcloths as needed, then toss them in the wash. After washing your disinfectant wipes, you will have to recreate the disinfecting solution again. If you don’t want to make reusable wipes, you can put paper towels in the jar instead of washcloths and use them like you’d use a store-bought disinfectant wipe. 

Can I make DIY disinfectant wipes with vinegar?

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This goes back to the whole “difference between cleaning and disinfecting” thing. While vinegar is effective at breaking down dirt, wiping out certain germs, and getting rid of grime, according to Insider, it may not be the best choice for combating viruses. In fact, it may not be effective in killing coronavirus at all.

Because of this, you may want to use vinegar as a cleansing agent around your home, but when it comes to disinfecting, it’s best to leave that to rubbing alcohol 70 percent or above.

Can I make DIY disinfectant wipes with bleach?

If you don’t have rubbing alcohol readily available or would prefer to go heavy duty with your DIY disinfectant wipes, bleach is another option. However, with bleach, you have to be mindful of which surfaces you are using it on. It’s also important to note that bleach should never be mixed with ammonia.

To make DIY bleach disinfectant wipes, mix 4 teaspoons of bleach per quart of water. Pour the mixture over your washcloths in the glass jar, then use as needed. Crack open a window (ugh, the smell!) and let the bleach solution sit on the surface for at least one minute before wiping away. Even though the bleach is diluted, wear rubber gloves or use a thick towel so that your skin doesn't directly touch any bleach.

How to turn baby wipes into disinfecting wipes:

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Turning baby wipes into disinfecting wipes might not be the most sustainable option, but if you are working with limited resources, it’s understandable and more importantly, effective.

To turn baby wipes into non-reusable wipes that can sanitize and disinfect, pour ½ bottle of rubbing alcohol (at least 70 percent) into a container of wipes. You can use these wipes to clean your hands or to disinfect surfaces if you’re in a pinch. You may also want to add 10 drops of an essential oil, just to counteract the smell of alcohol.

The best way to prevent contracting or spreading coronavirus is with thorough hand washing and social distancing. If you feel you may be experiencing symptoms of coronavirus, which include persistent cough (usually dry), fever, shortness of breath, and fatigue, please call your doctor before going to get tested. For comprehensive resources and updates, visit the CDC website. If you are experiencing anxiety about the virus, seek out mental health support from your provider or visit NAMI.org

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