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…
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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. I’ve included links to some other recipes that you can try, at the bottom of this post.
My recipe is super simple, and is basically a variation of my famous homemade all-purpose cleaner: water, vinegar, alcohol, and some essential oils. (Why didn’t I think of this before?!)
You could add a few drops of dish soap for extra grease-cutting power (like I did in my original recipe), but I chose to leave it out here. You can also leave out (or decrease) the alcohol, but I like it in there for extra disinfecting power and it works great to keep your surfaces shiny and streak-free – that’s actually why I put it in my original all-purpose cleaner recipe.
Homemade Cleaning Wipes
- 1 cup distilled water (distilled is best, but filtered tap water is fine for short term storage)
- 1/2 cup vinegar (white distilled vinegar)
- 1/4 cup isopropyl alcohol (also known as rubbing alcohol or surgical spirits)
- 12 drops lavender essential oil
- 8 drops orange or lemon essential oil
- 8 drops tea tree oil
- 5 drops peppermint essential oil
- 20 small thin cloths, about 8-10 inches
- Large quart-sized container with tight-fitting lid
Add water, vinegar, 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!
You can add a few drops of dish soap for extra grease-fighting power.
You can leave out the alcohol, but make sure to increase the vinegar/water a bit so the liquid ratio stays the same.
This essential oils combination is just what works for me. Feel free to experiment!
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.
A note about granite and other stone countertops
One of our readers graciously reminded me that vinegar (and other acids like lemon juice, etc.) should not be used on granite and other stone countertops because it will cause etching over time. So here’s the reply I sent her:
I have a post for a cleaning spray that’s just for granite and other stone countertops, which uses just water, alcohol, soap, and essential oils. You could try that one and maybe adjust the ratios a bit? I’ll have to try that one time, but if you try it before I do, please let us know how it goes!
Also, one of the links at the end of this post (from Live Renewed) has an alternative version that just uses water and some castile soap, so that’s another option to try as well.