How to Make Disinfectant Wipes if Your Store Is Out of Stock

When you can't find them on store shelves, you can make your own DIY disinfecting products using these household cleaners.

A simple swipe with a disinfectant wipe makes quick work of sanitizing household surfaces, but sky-high demand makes Clorox and Lysol products nearly impossible to find these days. And unfortunately, this disinfecting product shortage is likely to last at least until 2021, according to the CEO of Clorox, Benno Dorer. In the meantime, you can make your own DIY disinfectant wipes using a few household ingredients that are proven effective at killing viruses including coronavirus. However, these chemicals can be dangerous if used incorrectly, so carefully read through these instructions on how to make disinfectant wipes before getting started.

close up of pink rubber glove wiping down a window
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How to Make Disinfectant Wipes with Alcohol

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends alcohol as an effective cleaner to disinfect household surfaces. To make alcohol-based disinfectant wipes, use at least 70% rubbing alcohol (undiluted) for the most effective clean. Grab a roll of paper towels (or small kitchen cloths for reusable wipes) and an airtight container large enough to store them. You can cut the paper towel roll in half to fit if needed. Choose a container that's not used for storing food, beverages, or other cleaners and label it to avoid an accidental mix-up. Use these steps on how to make disinfectant wipes using alcohol:

  1. Pour rubbing alcohol into your airtight container, leaving enough room at the top so the cloths can fit inside.
  2. Add the paper towels or cloths to the container and fully submerge them in the alcohol.
  3. Let the wipes soak for at least five minutes before using.

You can also turn pre-made wipes, such as unused makeup wipes or baby wipes, into disinfectant wipes by submerging them in rubbing alcohol (but these wipes should never be used with bleach). After wiping down the surface with your alcohol-based disinfectant wipe, let the solution sit for at least five minutes to effectively kill germs.

How to Make Disinfectant Wipes with Bleach

Bleach is another powerful disinfectant that's recommended by the CDC for use against the coronavirus, but it requires special care when using. The harsh chemical can discolor clothing and irritate your skin, eyes, and nose. You should always wear rubber gloves and ensure the area is well-ventilated when working with bleach, including when making and using DIY disinfectant wipes. Never mix bleach with ammonia or other cleaners, as this causes dangerous chemical reactions.

To make disinfectant wipes with bleach, first check the expiration date on the bottle to make sure the bleach is still effective, as the chemical starts to degrade after a shelf-life of about six months. Then put on rubber gloves and follow these instructions to make homemade disinfectant wipes with bleach:

  1. Prepare the CDC's recommended bleach solution by mixing 4 teaspoons of bleach per quart of water.
  2. Pour the solution into your airtight container, taking care not to fill it up all the way.
  3. Add the paper towels or cloths to the container and fully submerge them in the solution.
  4. Let the wipes soak for at least five minutes before using.

Remember to wear rubber gloves when cleaning with bleach-based disinfectant wipes. To ensure proper disinfection, allow the solution to sit on the surface for at least one minute before wiping away with a clean, dry cloth.

It's important to note that when mixed with water, bleach is only effective for about 24 hours, so these homemade disinfectant wipes are not intended for long-term storage. For the best disinfecting power, you'll need to make a fresh batch of bleach disinfectant wipes for every use.

Although store-bought wipes are the most effective and convenient option, DIY disinfectant wipes will work in a pinch. Until store shelves are restocked, they might be your best option for a quick clean.

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