Homemade cleaning wipes are so easy to make, create zero waste, and are much healthier for you and the environment!
Before we made the switch to natural, greener household cleaners, there was one product that lived underneath every single sink in my house: the tall plastic cylinder filled with disinfecting wipes.
You know the one. It looked a little something like this —–>
Maybe you use them too? They’re just so darn convenient, aren’t they?
A pre-soaked, tough cleaning cloth that wipes down any surface leaving it clean and disinfected? Awesome!
Except that they aren’t quite so awesome…
Why commercial cleaning wipes aren’t so awesome
They may be convenient, but those Clorox® or Lysol® disinfecting wipes can wreak havoc on your health, your home, and the environment. Here’s why:
- They’re wasteful. These wipes are the epitome of wastefulness with their single-use, toss it in the trash when you’re done philosophy. This is just terrible for the environment and not at all green or eco-friendly. We can do better than that!
- They’re toxic. These wipes contain many harsh chemicals that come with some well documented harmful side effects. Just have a look at the EWG pages for Clorox® wipes and Lysol® wipes, both of which received an overall score of “D”.
- They’re expensive. Considering that we use these one time, and then toss them in the trash – and a typical cleaning job will use at least 2-3 sheets – we’re literally throwing away money every month on these things!
And that’s not even considering the issues that come with that “99% of bacteria” statement. Read my post on anti-bacterial sprays for more on why killing 99% of bacteria might not be so great.
What about safer commercial wipes?
Now of course there are safer commercial alternatives out there, but you’d be surprised at what you’ll find when you dig a little deeper into the brands you know and love.
For instance, one of my favorite brands, Seventh Generation – their wipes actually scored a “D” as well! In fact, when I searched the Environmental Working Group’s website for “disinfecting wipes” I only found 2 products that scored a perfect “A”: the Whole Foods Market® brand, and one from a brand I hadn’t heard of before – Greenshield Organic® (these also happen to be biodegradable).
But regardless of their safety score, these wipes are still creating waste, and they’re very expensive!
There is a better way to get the convenience of cleaning wipes without the waste and harmful side effects, and without breaking the bank…
Ditch the Harmful Chemicals Once & For All!
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Make your own homemade cleaning wipes!
When you see just how easy it is to make homemade cleaning wipes, you’ll wonder why you didn’t make these sooner. I know I did!
First, you’ll need to decide what you’ll use for the wipes.
I’ve been using a combination of old baby wash cloths and some old receiving blankets that I’ve cut up with pinking shears to about 8 inch squares. I got 16 squares out of one blanket.
You can also cut up some old t-shirts or use some thin wash cloths. A smoother fabric (like the receiving blankets or t-shirts) will be good for simple wipe downs, but the “scrubbiness” of a wash cloth works great for tougher jobs.
Whatever you use, you might have to adjust the liquid ratio to work with your specific cloths, so be ready to experiment. 🙂
Next, you’ll need to find a good container to store the wipes.
I’m using a repurposed quart-sized pickle jar. A mason jar would work perfectly, or any quart-sized container with a tight-fitting lid will do. You can even use an old baby wipes container, or even your old Clorox® or Lysol® wipes tub!
Ideally, you may want to stick to glass containers since the essential oils tend to react with plastic. However, it’s not a very high concentration, so if all you have is a plastic container, go for it!
And now for the cleaning solution.
There are quite a few recipe variations online, and after tweaking several test batches, I’ve settled on what works for me. Many of the recipes I’ve seen online use vinegar, so that’s what I initially used for a while (hence the photo below). But then when I discovered the most simple all-purpose cleaner ever (!), I’ve updated this recipe to include the secret ingredient: soap.
Alcohol is a great disinfectant, and tea tree oil is antibacterial, so they’re both included in this recipe. Other disinfecting oils include thyme and rosemary. You can also add other oils to round out the scent, like lavender, peppermint, and orange.
Of course, you can just leave out the alcohol and oils completely and still have a great cleaning wipe.
NOTE: This recipe has been updated to include castile soap, and exclude the vinegar.
Homemade Cleaning Wipes
A safer, natural alternative to commercial cleaning wipes. Made with water, soap, alcohol, and essential oils.
- 1 cup distilled water (distilled is best, but filtered tap water is fine for short term storage)
- 1 tbsp castile soap (or natural dish soap)
- 1/4 cup isopropyl alcohol (also known as rubbing alcohol or surgical spirits)
- 20 drops tea tree oil (antibacterial)
- 5 drops lavender essential oil
- 5 drops orange or lemon essential oil
- 5 drops peppermint essential oil
- 20 small thin cloths, about 8-10 inches
- Large quart-sized container with tight-fitting lid
Add water, soap, and alcohol to container and stir.
Add essential oils and stir to combine.
Add cut-up cloths to container, and press down to soak up all the solution.
Cover container, and flip it upside down to ensure all cloths are moistened.
Use as needed for quick cleanups!
The essential oils are optional, but tea tree adds extra disinfecting power, and the others are there to round out the scent of tea tree.
I’m so happy with these homemade cleaning wipes, I’m actually kicking myself for not making them sooner!
I still love and use my all-purpose cleaner first and foremost (especially for big, tough jobs in the kitchen), but sometimes I just need a quick, pre-soaked rag to wipe down a counter or clean up the table, or ahem…give the bathroom a quick once-over before a guest arrives 😉 …and these wipes are super convenient and just perfect for that.
And when I’m done using a wipe? I just toss it into a small bin in the laundry room where they wait with my microfiber cloths until wash day!
I also made a second jar of wipes (in a different color) to use in the bathroom, so I don’t mix those up with the kitchen wipes.