How to Make Homemade Disinfectant Wipes

Homemade disinfectant wipes in glass jar next to essential oils

The Spruce / Ulyana Verbytska

Project Overview
  • Working Time: 30 mins
  • Total Time: 30 mins
  • Skill Level: Beginner

Disinfecting wipes like those from Lysol and Clorox in a pop-up canister or pouch are convenient and simple to use and, if used correctly, kill most bacteria on hard surfaces. If you like to make your own cleaning products, you can make disinfecting wipes at home with just a few simple ingredients.

Before You Begin

While there are many disinfectants registered with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), not all are commercially available for consumers to use in DIY projects. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that consumers use a product that contains at least 60 percent alcohol to disinfect hands and surfaces.

Isopropyl (rubbing) alcohol is sold in drug and grocery stores in 70, 91, and 99 percent solutions. Ethanol (grain alcohol), used for consumption, is sold in varying proof levels. Read the labels of grain alcohol and vodka bottles to determine their alcohol content. For instance, Everclear Grain Alcohol is 190 proof, or 92.4 percent ethanol.

While many sources suggest using at least 70 percent alcohol when making your own disinfect wipes, the CDC recommendation of using at least 60 percent alcohol should do the trick. Using less than this amount when making your own disinfecting wipes will not provide the microbe-killing protection you desire.


While hydrogen peroxide is an excellent disinfectant, it must be fresh and stored in an opaque container to provide disinfecting properties. When exposed to light, hydrogen peroxide reverts to plain water. Do not substitute hydrogen peroxide for alcohol when making these wipes.

What You'll Need

Equipment / Tools

  • Air-tight container
  • Measuring cup
  • Cotton or microfiber cloths


  • Heavy-duty paper towels, napkins or guest towels
  • Isopropyl alcohol or grain alcohol
  • Essential oils (optional)
  • Label or masking tape


Materials and tools for making homemade disinfectant wipes

The Spruce / Ulyana Verbytska

  1. Select a Container

    The container you select must be air-tight if you are making more wipes than you plan to use in the next hour or so. Alcohol evaporates very quickly, and you'll be left with dry wipes.

    A glass container like a wide-mouth jar, an old commercial disinfectant wipes container, or a plastic container with a lid works well. It should be large enough to hold 40 folded paper towels and three cups of liquid.

    Empty glass containers for placing homemade disinfectant wipes

    The Spruce / Ulyana Verbytska


    If you plan to add essential oils, choose a plastic container that is labeled #1 HPDE or #2 PET. Other types of plastic can react with essential oils and discolor or dissolve.

  2. Select the Towels

    The paper products that you use to make the wipes should be strong enough to stand up to cleaning while they are wet. Paper towels, paper guest hand towels, and paper napkins work well. Choose a heavy-duty paper towel with fewer chemicals like Reel Recycled Paper Towels that has a half-sheet option to reduce waste. For others, you can leave them full-size or cut them into smaller pieces if desired.

    If you would like to go green and create reusable wipes, 100 percent cotton, bamboo, or microfiber washcloths can also be used. Reusable wipes should be machine-washed in hot water after every use.

    Colorful microfiber cloths and paper towel roll and stacked sheets

    The Spruce / Ulyana Verbytska

  3. Layer the Towels

    Separate the towels into individual pieces and fold or roll to fit the container. If you are reusing a pop-up wipe container, fold them with one layer interwoven with the next towel so they will pull up together.

    If you have a round container, you may be able to cut a roll of paper towels in half and remove the inner cardboard core to create a "pull-from-the-center" roll of wipes.

    Multicolor microfiber cloths rolled in glass container and paper towel roll in glass jar

    The Spruce / Ulyana Verbytska

  4. Measure the Disinfecting Solution

    You need enough alcohol to cover and saturate the towels. Three cups of alcohol will saturate about 40 folded paper towels.

    Isopropyl alcohol measured in measuring glass in front of glass jar with paper towel roll

    The Spruce / Ulyana Verbytska

  5. Add Essential Oils

    Essential oils add a pleasant scent and some oils do have antibacterial qualities. You may mix and match to suit your sensibilities in the quantity that you desire.

    Recommended oils with some antibacterial qualities are tea tree, lavender, geranium, lemon, orange, eucalyptus, rosemary, cinnamon, clove, thyme, or peppermint.

    Essential oils poured into glass measuring cup with alcohol

    The Spruce / Ulyana Verbytska

  6. Saturate and Cover the Wipes

    Pour about half of the alcohol (with essential oils, if desired) over the towels. Wait until the liquid is absorbed and pour in the rest. You may need to add a bit more alcohol if the towels are not fully wet. There should be some liquid visible in the container. Cover the container tightly and the wipes are ready to use.

    Disinfectant solution poured over paper towel roll in glass container

    The Spruce / Ulyana Verbytska

  7. Label the Container

    Use a paper label or a piece of masking tape to label the container. Place out of reach of children and pets.

    Glass containers with homemade disinfectant wipes labeled

    The Spruce / Ulyana Verbytska

How to Use a DIY Disinfecting Wipe

Now that you know how to make your own disinfecting wipes, be sure to use them correctly to disinfect surfaces.

  1. Remove Heavy Soil

    While your disinfecting wipes will remove some grime from surfaces, they will be more effective if you clean away grease and heavy soil from surfaces first before disinfecting.

    Heavy soil and grease removed from marble countertop

    The Spruce / Ana Cadena

  2. Check the Moisture Level

    The wipes don't need to be drippy, but they do need to be very moist. There must be enough of the alcohol left on the kitchen counter, doorknob, or television remote to kill bacteria.

    Disinfecting wipe squeezed to check for moisture

    The Spruce / Ana Cadena

  3. Allow the Disinfectant Time to Work

    To kill most bacteria, the surface you are cleaning should remain wet for at multiple minutes. Do not wipe away the alcohol; allow it to air dry.

    Disinfecting wipe left on marble countertop

    The Spruce / Ana Cadena

  4. Use More Than One Wipe

    One wipe will not disinfect an entire kitchen or bathroom. One wipe will usually disinfect an area of around three-square-feet.

    Disinfecting wipe pulled from glass mason jar

    The Spruce / Ana Cadena

  5. Dispose of the Wipe Properly

    Paper products soaked in alcohol should not be added to a compost pile. Dispose of the wipes in a trash can. If you are using cloth wipes, place them in a small hamper until it is time to wash a load of laundry.

    Disinfecting wipes disposed of in metal trash can

    The Spruce / Ana Cadena

  6. Wash Your Hands

    After cleaning and disinfecting any area, wash your hands properly to remove any cleaning products or lingering bacteria.

    Hands being washed under running sink water

    The Spruce / Ana Cadena

Article Sources
The Spruce uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Cleaning and Disinfecting Your Home. U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

  2. Hand Sanitizer Use Out and About. U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.