DIY Disinfecting Wipes

Cleaning wipes in green container.

Disinfecting wipes you can buy in a pop-up canister or pouch are convenient and simple to use and kill most bacteria and viruses on hard surfaces.

These store-bought disinfecting wipes are spendy, however. 

There's also a sad environmental impact of using disposable wipes. They come in plastic jugs or packages that add to the landfill or wind up in the ocean unless recycled.

As for the wipes themselves, most include polyester or polypropylene materials. These materials aren't biodegradable, so they'll be here longer than most of us.

Fortunately, you can make disinfecting wipes at home with a few simple ingredients. These homemade wipes are not only better for your budget. If you use cloth instead of paper products, they're better for the environment, too.

1.  Choose the Container

Use a non-metallic container for the wipes. Metal cans or jars will rust, and rusty wipes more or less deafest the purpose. Reusing an old wipes container is one easy idea, or try the following:

  • Quart- or gallon-sized jar with a plastic lid
  • Glass mason jar
  • Plastic cereal storage container
  • Other plastic food container

Make sure the lid to your container fits well, so your homemade wipes won't dry out.

2.  Choose the Towels

The paper products that you use to make the wipes should be strong enough to stand up to some serious surface cleaning while they are wet. Good choices for the job include:

  • Heavy-duty paper towels
  • Paper guest hand towels
  • Paper napkins (full-size or cut into smaller pieces)

If you prefer more eco-friendly wipes, good material choices include:

  • 100 percent cotton cloths
  • Bamboo cloth
  • Microfiber washcloths

Reusable wipes should be machine washed in hot water after every use. 

3.  Layer the Towels

Separate the towels into individual pieces and fold or roll to fit your container. If you are reusing a pop-up wipe container, fold them with one layer interwoven with the next towel so they will pull up together.

If you have a round container, cut a roll of paper towels in half, and remove the inner cardboard core to create a pull-from-the-center roll of household cleaning wipes.

Germ-Fighting Solution 

Look for isopropyl alcohol - sold in drug and grocery stores - in a 70 percent solution. Using less than 70 percent alcohol will not provide the microbe-killing protection you desire.

4.  Measure the Alcohol and Essential Oils

In a separate container, pour enough isopropyl alcohol (70 percent or higher) to cover and saturate the towels. Three cups of alcohol will soak about 40 folded paper towels.

Next, add 10 to 20 drops of essential oils to the alcohol, if desired. Essential oils add a pleasant scent, and some oils do have antibacterial qualities.

Recommended oils with some antibacterial qualities include tea tree, lavender, geranium, lemon, orange, eucalyptus, rosemary, cinnamon, clove, thyme, and peppermint oils.

5.  Saturate the Disinfecting Wipes

Pour about half of the alcohol (mixed with essential oils, if using) over the towels. Wait until the liquid is absorbed, then pour in the rest. You might need to add a bit more alcohol if the towels are not thoroughly soaked. Some liquid should be visible in the container.

Cover the container tightly. The disinfecting wipes are now ready for action whenever you need them! Read on if you'd like to try a cleaning cocktail of a more intoxicating variety.

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