How to Make Homemade Disinfectant Spray

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You can make this safe and effective homemade disinfectant using vinegar, rubbing alcohol, and water, or make one using chlorine bleach.

A person wearing rubber gloves uses a spray bottle of homemade disinfectant to clean a bathroom's toilet seat

I switched to making my own cleaning products, like this homemade bathroom disinfectant, for several reasons. First, I got tired of spending a small fortune to buy products that won’t even tell me what’s in them. It’s my home and health — shouldn’t I know what I’m dealing with?

Also, my son and I noticed that several commercial products made our allergies worse, but homemade cleaning recipes did not. Still, because maintaining good indoor air quality is so important to overall health, I open windows or turn on exhaust fans when using homemade cleaning products and recommend that you do, too.

Homemade Bathroom Disinfectant Spray

This is an effective germ-fighter perfect for use as part of a weekly bathroom cleaning routine. Do not use it on wood surfaces — use the DIY bleach-based disinfectant instead.

Ingredients:

8 oz. water
6 oz. isopropyl alcohol (rubbing alcohol)
2 oz. distilled white vinegar
5-10 drops of essential oils (optional)

Directions:

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  1. Combine all ingredients in a spray bottle. Shake well.
  2. To clean: spray the surface and wipe with a damp microfiber cloth.
  3. To disinfect: spray pre-cleaned surfaces until they are visibly wet, then wait 5 minutes
  4. Rinse the cleaner off of surfaces by using a fresh, damp cloth or damp paper towels.
  5. Store unused homemade disinfectant in a cool, dark spot away from heat and light. Keep out of reach of children and pets. Discard after 2 months.

Check out my other homemade cleaning recipes.

Homemade Bleach-Based Disinfectant

If you cannot find rubbing alcohol or prefer not to use it, you can make an effective homemade disinfecting cleaner using bleach. To make a homemade bleach-based bathroom disinfectant, add 2.5 ounces of chlorine bleach to 1 gallon of water or, for a smaller amount, stir 4 teaspoons of bleach into a quart of water. Do not use this bleach solution on marble or granite surfaces.

Frequently Asked Questions

Below are some of the questions I’m most frequently asked about this homemade disinfectant recipe. If your question is not answered in this article, please feel free to leave it in the comments!

What essential oils should I use?

Some essential oils have mild anti-bacterial or germ-fighting abilities in addition to a pleasant scent. Oils with mild disinfecting properties include tea tree oil, rosemary, orange, clove, thyme, lavender, peppermint, and eucalyptus. Not all essential oils are safe for use around pets, however. Lavender is, so that’s what I use. 

Why do I have to clean before disinfecting?

Cleaning and disinfecting aren’t the same thing, as the CDC explains. Too much grime on a surface overwhelms the germ-fighting ability of disinfectants. Cleaning removes the grime but not all germs. Disinfecting a pre-cleaned surface tackles those remaining germs.

Can I use a different type of alcohol?

The rubbing alcohol used in this DIY disinfecting spray is isopropyl. It’s possible to swap ethanol-based alcohol, such as 120-proof vodka or Everclear, if you’d prefer.

Can I Use This in My Kitchen?

The EPA changed rules about what is safe to use on food preparation surfaces to meet the supply shortages following the coronavirus outbreak. The agency now approves of using isopropyl alcohol cleaners on food preparation surfaces, but it should not come into contact with food.


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11 Comments

  1. Hi Katie,

    I just bought your book and started following your cleaning templates. You mentioned before that vinegar shouldn’t be used on granite or marble. Will your granite-safe recipe work for disinfecting bathroom as well?

    1. Katie Berry says:

      Hi Trang,
      The granite cleaner does indeed have disinfecting properties. 🙂

  2. Just curious, what’s the best essential oil to use? Are they all antibacterial? I used lemon this time. Thank you for taking the time to help others get organized! I clean, but I needed organization.. I am more productive, following these lists.

    1. Katie Berry says:

      Hi Tressa,
      The essential oils that I listed all have antibacterial properties, according to this research. Lemon is not listed as containing antibacterial or antimicrobial properties, although I agree that it smells nice.

    2. Mary Iris says:

      5 stars
      Tea tree oil is used for cleaning and medicinal purposes.

  3. What disinfectant is safe for food surfaces, such as kitchen counters that are quartz -silestone?

  4. Stephanie Hermelee says:

    I may have missed this somewhere, but what to use for disinfecting wipes if we can’t get alcohol?

    1. Katie Berry says:

      Hi Stephanie,
      Good question! I’ve updated the post to include a bleach-based disinfecting spray recipe. If you cannot get rubbing alcohol to make homemade disinfecting wipes, you should use the bleach-based cleaning spray recipe instead.

      You’ll need to make a fresh batch daily so it stays effective.

  5. Stephanie Carleton says:

    5 stars
    Thank you for updating this today w researched based info. You’re giving us a great service

    1. Katie Berry says:

      You’re welcome. Stay healthy!