Here’s How to Safely Make Your Own Disinfectant Wipes and Spray

This video will show you how to safely make disinfectant wipes based on guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Chris Zuppa/The Penny Hoarder

People are more conscious than ever about washing our hands, not touching our faces and disinfecting the surfaces we touch.

So much is still unknown about the novel coronavirus, but researchers say the virus has the potential to live on certain surfaces for hours, and it’s easily transmittable. That means paying more attention to surfaces in your home that get a lot of action, like door knobs, fridge handles, faucets and toilet flushes.

To ensure a safe, germ-free home, you’ll need to both clean and disinfect these high-touch surfaces around your home. Cleaning means removing dust, crumbs and other debris using a soft rag. Disinfecting is what actually kills the virus on these surfaces.

Disinfectant wipes can be in short supply these days, but fortunately, you can make your own homemade disinfectant rather than buying an expensive name-brand version. Here’s how to make your own (and to do so safely).

How to Make DIY Disinfectant

To make your own homemade disinfectant, you’ll need one of three things: bleach, 70% isopropyl alcohol, or 3% hydrogen peroxide.

Bleach-Based Disinfectant

Many store-bought disinfectants use bleach as their main ingredient, but household bleach can be just as effective when diluted appropriately using the following ratio, as recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:

  • 1 quart of water
  • 3 teaspoons of bleach

Mix the two together and apply it to the surface you want to disinfect. Let it sit for at least 1 minute before wiping away.

Be aware that the bleach solution only remains effective for 24 hours.

Alcohol-Based Disinfectant

If you don’t have any bleach at home or can’t find any at the store, you can also make a disinfectant using alcohol. The CDC recommends at least 70% isopropyl alcohol as an effective hand sanitizer, but you can also use it to disinfect surfaces in your home.

DIY Hand Sanitizer

If you’re making homemade hand sanitizer, you must use 70% isopropyl alcohol — bleach will irritate your skin and should not be used for this purpose. Mix together the following:

  • 3 parts 70% isopropyl alcohol
  • 1 part aloe vera gel

You can use this solution immediately after it’s mixed. Put it in a small bottle and take it with you for hand sanitizing on the go.

How to Use DIY Disinfectant

Once you’ve mixed your disinfectant solution, you can either decant it in a spray bottle, make disposable wipes or make reusable wipes.

DIY Disinfectant Spray

You will need:

  • Homemade disinfectant solution
  • Spray bottle
  • Paper towels or cleaning cloths/rags

Pour your disinfectant solution inside the spray bottle and secure the lid tightly. Use as you would a store-bought disinfectant spray, spraying the surface and then wiping it down with a cloth or paper towel.

DIY Disinfectant Wipes

You will need:

  • Homemade disinfectant solution
  • Paper towel roll
  • Airtight container

Place your paper towels inside the airtight container. Depending on the size of the container, you might be able to fit the entire roll inside, or you might need to tear off the paper towels and stack them in the container. Pour over the disinfectant solution and allow the paper towels to soak for at least five minutes.

DIY Reusable Wipes

You will need:

  • Homemade disinfectant solution
  • Rags, cloths or other material like cut-up towels
  • Airtight container

As above, put your material in the airtight container and cover with disinfectant solution, allowing it to sit until the material is soaked through (at least five minutes). Once you’ve used a wipe to disinfect a surface, throw it in the washing machine with your regular laundry so you can reuse it once it’s clean.

Frequently Asked Questions About DIY Disinfectant

Can I Use Natural Cleaners?

The short answer is “no.” Cleaners that include vinegar or essential oils will not kill the coronavirus on surfaces. Only CDC-approved solutions that include bleach and isopropyl alcohol will disinfect your surfaces and remove the virus.

Can I Use DIY Disinfectant on My Smartphone?

It’s always a good idea to check your smartphone manufacturer’s recommendations before using any type of chemical to disinfect your phone.

In general, it’s safe to disinfect your phone with an isopropyl alcohol-based cleaner. Apple has indicated that you can also use bleach-based disinfectant like Clorox wipes (or your homemade version) on your iPhone.

Whichever disinfectant you use, don’t spray it directly onto your phone — use disinfectant wipes or spray the solution onto a cloth before gently wiping your phone down.

Should I Take Safety Precautions?

Yes, you should wear disposable gloves when cleaning with a bleach-based solution to protect your skin. If using spray, use it carefully and avoid getting it on your clothes and skin or in your eyes. If you do get it in your eyes or accidentally ingest any, call Poison Control (800-222-1222).

Always keep cleaning products, whether homemade or store-bought, away from kids and pets. If you use your homemade disinfectant on children’s toys, rinse them thoroughly with warm water once you’ve disinfected them and let them air dry before allowing your kids to play with them.

Never mix bleach with anything other than water. Doing so can cause a chemical reaction that can be extremely dangerous and potentially cause serious injury.

Also be aware that bleach is not appropriate for all surfaces due to its harshness and its ability to fade certain fabrics. You should be fine to use a bleach solution in your kitchen, bathroom and door knobs but keep it away from porous surfaces like your couch.

During the pandemic, you can also save money by making your own face masks using materials you probably already have at home.

Catherine Hiles is a contributor to The Penny Hoarder.