This is Day 23 of the 31 Days to Green Clean series.
This post was originally posted on Sept. 4, 2009 and is one of my most popular posts here at Live Renewed. I love that you guys love these homemade reusable disinfecting wipes! Today I wanted to take the opportunity to update some of the information and the recipes in the post.
As I have been trying to eliminate paper waste from our household as well as clean our home using natural, non-toxic, and frugal cleaning products, there is one thing I have been missing – Clorox wipes.
Having 2 (now 3!) small children, especially an active, independent, and potty-training toddler, means lots of little messes. Sometimes I just don’t want to get out the cleaning spray and a use a big rag just to clean up a small mess.
Sometimes I don’t have the luxury of time to run to the cabinet and get the spray and a rag – I need to get something cleaned up quickly before it turns into a bigger mess. Sometimes I want to be sure that something is disinfected and not just wiped down with water. I love the convenience of pre-moistened wipes that are small, quick and easily accessible.
But I look on the back of my Clorox wipes and read, “PRECAUTIONARY STATEMENTS: HAZARDS TO HUMANS AND DOMESTIC ANIMALS.”
That is not something that I want to clean my home with, or use around my children (or my dog)!! Do you?
I’ve been thinking about making homemade disinfecting wipes for a while, but just wasn’t sure exactly how I would do it. Finally I took the time to make my own and I am really happy with what I came up with!
*Update 10/12: I recently posted about how I’ve learned that you are not supposed to mix castile soap and vinegar for cleaning. So I’ve come up with two different recipes that will still give you great disinfecting wipes, and you can choose which recipe you’d rather use based on what ingredients you have on hand and want to use.
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Homemade Disinfecting Wipes
- Squares of cloth – You can cut up an old t-shirt or receiving blanket, or any scrap cloth you have
- Container – You can reuse either an disinfecting wipes container or a baby wipes container
First, cut up squares of fabric for your wipes. I got 18 wipes, some small and some bigger, out of one t-shirt. I’ll probably cut up another t-shirt just to make sure I have enough wipes on hand at all times. If you’re worried about the fabric fraying you could use pinking shears, but I haven’t had a problem with that.
Then, put the wipes into a container. You can either throw them into a reused baby wipes container (no need to fold!) or roll them up and put them in a reused disinfecting wipes container. I roll them on a little bit of an angle so that the wipes in the middle stick up a little farther than the wipes on the outside and are easier to grab.
Now, it’s time to choose your wipes solution recipe. They both work well and include ingredients that have disinfecting qualities. Which one you choose will depend on which ingredients you have on hand, and just personal preference.
Disinfecting Wipes Recipe #1
*Update: Vinegar and soap – either castile soap or dishsoap – do not mix well for a green and natural cleaning solution. So this recipe now just uses vinegar and a mixture of essential oils.
- 1 cup water
- 1/4 cup white vinegar
- 8-10 drops lemon essential oil
- 8-10 drops eucalyptus essential oil
- 5-7 drops tea tree essential oil
The vinegar has disinfecting properties and the essential oils provide anti-bacterial and natural germicide properties, while also giving the solution a pleasant scent.
Disinfecting Wipes Recipe #2
- 1 cup water
- 2 Tbsp Castile Soap
- 8-10 drops tea tree essential oil
This is basically my multipurpose cleaner for using with the wipes. The tea tree oil has anti-bacterial properties and the castile soap provides the cleaning power. You can find both castile soap and tea tree oil at Target, but I have found the best prices online.
Mix your solution together in a small bowl or measuring cup and pour over your wipes. Be sure to label your wipes well. It’s even a good idea to put the recipe right on the label so you won’t have to look it up every time you want to make another batch of wipes.
After I use a wipe, I just throw it down the stairs into the laundry hamper that I use for the rest of my rags. (Or really I just leave it sitting on the corner of the kitchen counter until I have a few rags in the pile and then just throw them all down together.) 🙂 They get washed with all the other cleaning rags, so it’s really no extra work for me.
I am loving this convenient, natural, homemade, reusable, and frugal alternative to Clorox wipes!!
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And if you’ve never used castile soap, it’s one of my most favorite natural, multi-functional products to use all around your home! Check out The Many Uses of Castile Soap!
What do you use for natural cleaning around your home? Do you have any convenience cleaning products that you just can’t live without? Have you come up with alternatives for any of them?
Go here to read all the posts in the 31 Days to Green Clean series.
*Disclosure – There are affiliate links in this post. If you make a purchase through one of my links, I’ll receive a small commission. Thanks for supporting Live Renewed!
This is very smart and I will definitely try this technique when I’m cleaning. I usually just use good microfiber cloths when I want to speed clean the windows and I refuse to use anything with chemicals so I really like your cleaning recipe.
Rosie Goins says
I buy the pack of 5 white cotton kitchen towels (like feed or grain sacks) at WalMart and cut them into quarters. I used them and made wipes this morning. Great. Love them. I used lavender castile soap and lemon and lavender EOs; could hardly smell the vinegar.
Emily @ Live Renewed says
Oh, that’s a great idea to use cotton grain cloths. I have some of those that I haven’t even taken out of the package, I’ll have to try them for making wipes. I’m so glad you loved the wipes, lemon and lavender is a great scent combo!
Hey Do you have to wash them separate or can I just wash them with my regular clothes????
I can’t find Castile Soap in Australia, what could I use instead?
Emily @ Live Renewed says
You can definitely substitute a natural dish soap with very similar results! Hope that helps!
You should also mention and be aware, tea tree oil can be very fatal to pets, even a small drop on the skin. Numerous find this out the hard way, and some are lucky enough to have their pets pull out, but it isnt worth the risk if you ask me.
Tea tree, or Melaleuca alternifolia oil, does have toxic potential, depending on the circumstances of exposure. Clinical effects that may occur following dermal exposure to significant amounts of tea tree oil include loss of coordination, muscle weakness, depression, and possibly even a severe drop in body temperature, collapse and liver damage. If the oil is ingested, potential effects include vomiting, diarrhea and, in some cases, seizures. If inhalation of the oil occurs, aspiration pneumonia is possible.
Found this on The ASPCA website, and I have SIX dogs, so I’m really glad you mentioned that! I use tea tree oil ALL the time, and never thought it would be harmful to my furry kids!
Better than tea tree oil is white thyme essential oil. It has anti fungal, antibacterial, and antiviral properties. It has been proven highly effective at knocking out the MRSA bacterium.
I know this is an older post but THANK YOU for sharing that information! I would be devastated trying to go green and end up harming or killing one of my animals! My animals ARE family as well : )
Tina Beck says
B4 making such an uneducated statement please research a subje t throughly. Tea trea as well as eucalyptus oil CAN be toxic but only if used full strenght!
It is tru however that tea trea is a very potent antimicrobial, antifungal and antiviral.
I use a 1% solution tea trea disinfection spray which is plenty efficient to kill the most common bacteria, funges and viruses.
Please be careful with Anything concentrated! Essential oils are by nature a concentration of properties.
Research several sites on HARMFUL ESSENTIAL OILS FOR ANIMALS
to compare findings, read books on essential oils, talk to a vet and be aware that not all animals are the same…feline, canine, equus
Do you have to rinse the surface you’re cleaning with water after using these wipes? Won’t there be soap residue everywhere?
Retha Nesmith says
I was wondering if I could put this on Plant Therapy’s blog- http://www.essentialoilblogging.com? Or if you are interested in writing a guest post for the blog we would be willing to trade for product. Please email me if you are interested. I love all of these recipes. They look amazing and I can’t wait to try them!
Wonderful recipes, thank you! This is the last item on my ‘conversion’ list for household/personal cleaning items so can’t wait to try them both.
Hahn Jackson says
and using another wipes box for the used ones till you get home is a great idea too
Kind of random… but I have a pampers baby wipes container (they are all dried) do you think I could use this solution on them? It might be great for a ‘throw away” for kids/ teenagers to use before i switch to old cloths?
Emily @ Live Renewed says
I’m sure that would work, and be a great way to use the dried out sheets, instead of just throwing them away!
No need to use pinking shears if you’re using old t-shirts.. knit fabric doesn’t fray. 🙂
Receiving blankets might though, if they are flannel…
Hi- I want to echo the question above regarding rinsing/soap residue left behind…? Also, how often do you make these = i.e.. How long will solution last before getting too old (will it mold?)? Thanks for the post!
I’ve tried something similar to this that replaced throw away dryer sheets and they got covered in mildew within a week or so. Since I’m keeping moist cloth in a closed container, it makes sense, but I’m wondering how you avoid this. I’d really like to get back to cloth over paper.
Emily @ Live Renewed says
Thanks for your question. I have found with the disinfecting wipes that either the vinegar, or the tea tree oil, depending on which recipe you use, helps to keep the cloths from getting moldy. Several drops of lavender essential oil may also help in your fabric dryer sheets recipe. Also, I usually use up my stash of cloths within a few days, so they’re not sitting around long enough to get moldy or mildew-y. I hope that helps, let me know if you have any other questions!
Thank you for the info! I’ll try that. The recipe I used for my dryer sheets didn’t have any of those ingredients in it, so that was probably the issue. I can’t wait to try this out!
Boil the water or use distilled to prevent mold
I love this idea! Can’t wait to try it.
mary foreman says
Does the lemon oil have specific cleaning/disinfecting properties, or could I use another oil that I have on hand (mint, lavender, etc.)?
Stephanie M says
Lemon oil is anti-infectious, antibacterial, antiviral, antiseptic, and a disinfectant. Other citrus oils as well as tea tree oil have similar benefits, so you are ok using any of those. I love citrus mint and lemon/lavender blends!
Emily, do I have to wipe the surface with damp cloth after using those disinfecting wipes? Given that they contain soap and tea tree oil…
There were a few people who asked whether or not the surface needs to be wiped down with a wet cloth after using these wipes. I haven’t seen an answer and it is my concern as well. Please reply
I made these this morning and didn’t rinse off the countertops after.
I find the recipe with castille soap is quite soapy, so I use a dry cloth to wipe surfaces again
I hang them over my laundry basket to let them dry. I use microfiber cloths & they dry quickly. I use them for everything, even toilet wipes. I place them in a mesh bag, then throw in washer with the rest of the load. This saves on paper towels AND TP.
Dave Griggs says
as a truck driver, no time to follow your suggestions, but I have found that as u use up your wipes the remaining few become very very moist…… tear off 10 to 15 paper towels and stuff it down in there… after a while you have 10 to 15 more wipes for free.
I just stumbled upon your site and I think these recipes are awesome.
I cannot wait to run out and buy the items needed. I do have a question about
The essential oils, does it really matter what scent you use? I prefer scents like “blue nile”
And patchouli oils?
Just a thought.. if you pour vinegar into a jar with cut up lemons or oranges and let them sit for two weeks it makes a great disinfecting cleaner and smells wonderful. Maybe try this instead of the lemon oil?
Amanda Predmore says
I have a question with a bit of story leading up to the question… My aging kitty was accidentally locked in our bedroom and subsequently he “went” on my tempur pedic mattress… we cleaned the best we could and turned the mattress so that the spot he went was at our feet so we wouldn’t smell it – for cat pee smell can be impossible to get out. Each night before going to sleep I put “Breath” and “Serenity” on my feet for breathing well and sleeping. Some months went by with this ritual and one Saturday when changing the sheets, I decided to smell the spot where Buddy went, and it didn’t smell AT ALL… and it of course smelled good but no hint of cat pee smell. This said, I started thinking about the issues around our home with Buddy “going” – which is generally furniture. We have lost 4 couches so far and countless other items. And starting thinking… and doing research… and as it turns out according to others’ testimonies is that citrus can deter cat naughtiness in the areas where they tend to go… not only do we want that, but also to do away with the smell. Here is, finally, the question… what mixture for a bit of dilution so that we don’t go through the lemon or orange oil so fast should I use… I can’t just mix water with the lemon/orange oil – because it doesn’t mix… but it isn’t a mixture that I plan on mopping up – but spraying day after day until I don’t smell anything. Should I do just a drop of dish soap? I know this works well for spider killing… putting this out there to see if you are still answering questions on this! Thanks!
Our Roto-Rooter technician told us that “cutters” can clog up the laundry drainline with shreds of fabric and unraveled threads. “Cutters” is the old word for pieces of cloth that are cut out of T-shirts, sheets, and towels. I always hem my cutters with a zigzag stitch around all four sides, it’s quick and easy, mindless sewing.
I made my own Wet Swifters with a square of thermal fabric sewed on top of a square of sheet fabric. Since I use those to clean the floor, I don’t wash them with clothes or towels.
I have a special load for the bathroom rugs, extra hot water and sometimes bleach. I wash my cleaning rags with that load.
Hi, thank you for this helpful info! Could I use any essential oil or should I stick with lemon? I already have tea tree on hand so I thought I could try that.
Meg @ Meg, Acting Out says
Love your recipe! I tried it out and talked about it on my blog today (pointing readers to your post and giving full credit). Thanks for such a healthy way to disinfect our gross areas! 😉
Would lemon juice work instead of lemon oil
Koreen Pacher says
I just made these! I did have everything for the 1st recipe! I also added orange essential oil and real lemon juice for a more citrus scent!!! Can’t wait to use them! Especially with 3 cats and 6 birds in the house! Thank you!! I’ve been waiting for a recipe to make these!!
Koreen Pacher says
Omg! I just read how harmful tea tree oil is to pets!!!!!
Nancy Cesa says
I was diagnosed with multiple severe allergies. Searched and searched for dish liquid that I can use & found your site. I am also allergic to essential oils, specifically Tea Tree, Cinnamon, Citrus and Vanilla. Is the Tea Tree Oil the only one with the disinfectant proprieties? Is there something else I could substitute it for? Thanks in advance, NAC
Emily McClements says
Hi Nancy, oregano, peppermint, and lavender essential oils all also has some disinfectant properties. Due to your allergies, I’d recommend doing your research on those oils as well. I hope that helps!
Nancy Cesa says
Thank you for such a quick response. Peppermint wipes… I plan to make some ASAP. Thank you!!