DIY Cleaning and Sanitizing Solutions
Our favorite cleaning products may be sold out almost everywhere, but that doesn’t mean we need to sacrifice a clean environment. Many of these store-bought products can be easily replicated with household items you probably already have on hand for easy, effective, and budget-friendly solutions that help protect us from dangerous pathogens like the novel coronavirus.
Items You Need for DIY Disinfecting Solutions
While a lot of these ingredients are often already in your home (even if you don’t know it!), they can be bought at pharmacies or your local grocery and hardware stores where they might be easier to find than packaged disinfecting wipes or sprays.
Your mom probably calls it rubbing alcohol, but isopropyl (also seen as isopropanol) is a chemical compound that’s been proven to effectively kill viruses and bacteria that live on surfaces within 30 seconds. Most bottles come in concentrations of 60% or higher but aim to use one with a high percentage (90% or higher), especially if you dilute it in water.
Yes, it’s useful for more than just your white bath towels. Bleach is probably the best at-home product for killing germs. When mixed and diluted with water, leave this solution on surfaces for at least 10 minutes before wiping off.
CAUTION! Bleach can be dangerous if used improperly. Never mix bleach with anything except water.
We all remember the painful bubbling in our scraped knees because hydrogen peroxide packs a powerful disinfecting punch. Despite a deceptively low concentration percentage (usually 3-6%), don’t be fooled: When used alone, it works tremendously well against bacteria, viruses, mold, fungi, and more. Like bleach though, leave hydrogen peroxide on surfaces for at least 10 minutes before wiping away.
How to Make DIY Cleaning Products
Washing our hands with soap and water is still king when it comes to preventing the spread of infectious diseases, but hand sanitizer still does an adequate job in a pinch, so long as it’s made with at least 60% alcohol.
Thankfully, it’s simple to make your own, and you need only two ingredients:
- ¾ cup isopropyl (vodka or other types of alcohol CANNOT be used as a substitute!)
- ¼ cup aloe vera gel
That’s it! The key to making your own hand sanitizer is a proper ratio of ingredients since you need the right amount of alcohol in the mixture to actually be effective.
Directions for DIY Hand Sanitizer:
- Pour your ingredients in a bowl with a pouring spout, like a glass measuring cup.
- Mix with a spoon and then whisk to turn the mixture into a gel.
- Store the gel in a clean, empty bottle (like a used hand sanitizer bottle or pump).
Feel free to add a few drops of your favorite essential oil for a hint of natural fragrance.
Disposable and reusable cleansing wipes
Disinfecting wipes remain one of the hardest to find, high-demand items of the coronavirus pandemic. Luckily, homemade wipes work just as effectively and may be easier on your wallet (especially if you go the reusable route). All you need is:
- A bleach solution,
- Paper towels (for disposable wipes), and
- Cotton cloth squares (for reusable wipes).
To make a bleach solution, all you need is bleach and water. Never mix bleach with anything except water. The CDC recommends combining ⅓ cup bleach to one gallon of clean water, or four teaspoons to one quart, but most bleach containers will have directions on the label. Follow them carefully. The solution will lose its effectiveness in storage, so it’s best to use all of your solution and make new each time you need it.
Wear rubber gloves when making and using a bleach solution as it may irritate your skin. Also open windows (if possible) when using your bleach-and-water solution to reduce any effects on your respiratory system. And watch your clothes!
Disposable cleansing wipes
If you’re using paper towels to make disposable wipes, make sure you have a cylindrical container (like a used coffee can). Cut the roll of paper towels to fit the size of the container you’re using, and pour the solution into the container so the paper towels absorb the solution. Once thoroughly soaked, remove the cardboard paper tube and use the wipes immediately.
Reusable cleansing wipes
For the reusable wipes, use the same bleach-and-water solution to soak several cotton cloth squares, roughly the size of regular wipes. Once you’re finished using the wipes, launder them immediately or store them in an airtight container until they can be washed for reuse.
Diffusing the bleach smell (optional)
The scent of bleach can cause irritation for some folks, so you may opt to diffuse the smell with essential oils. Never put essential oils directly into the bleach solution.
After using the bleach solution and waiting 10 or more minutes, mix one cup of water with three to four drops of your favorite essential oil. Pour into a spray container and spritz the areas for a fresh, clean scent.
Things to Keep in Mind
While many online recipes for DIY cleaning products call for vinegar, essential oils, or even vodka, these items aren’t EPA-registered household disinfectants or proven to actually prevent the spread of viruses.
If you’re hesitant to use harsh chemicals (like bleach) in your home, understand that they’re needed to actually disinfect and not just “clean”. When fighting infectious diseases, the stronger the solution, the better the outcome.