How to Make Homemade Wipes

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Use these simple recipes to keep a supply of homemade wipes on hand for disinfecting, cleaning, hand sanitizing, and more.

Person wearing a latex glove uses a homemade disinfecting wipe to clean a stainless steel refrigerator handle

Use the recipe for homemade disinfecting wipes as a starting point to making other kinds of wipes, too. After you’ve got the basics down, it’s easy to make variations for cleaning wipes, baby wipes, and makeup wipes. You can even make homemade hand sanitizing wipes that you can stash in your purse or backpack.

Step 1. Choose your Material

If you want to make disposable wipes, use paper towels cut into squares. For reusable wipes, cut an old white t-shirt or sheet into squares. Don’t use colorful materials, though, or their dyes may run.

Step 2. Choose your Container

You need a tight-sealing nonreactive container. Jars with plastic lids, air-tight canisters, and even old wipes containers work well as long as you’ve washed and dried them thoroughly. Avoid metal containers or lids since they’ll rust and create a mess.

Step 3. Choose your Wipes Recipe

The basic recipe for homemade disinfecting wipes is a great starting place, then try the other variations. Be sure to label your containers so you don’t mistake a homemade hand-sanitizing wipe for a homemade makeup remover cloth, and store them as directed.

Homemade Disinfecting Wipes

Stir together 4 oz. water, 12 oz. 70% rubbing (isopropyl) alcohol, 1/2 tsp. liquid dish detergent and 8 drops of tea tree essential oil. To use, clean the surface with soapy water or a wipe. To eliminate germs, saturate the area with a fresh homemade disinfecting wipe and let it air dry. Discard or launder used wipes — do not put them back into the container. Store in a cool, dark spot away from heat and direct sunlight.

Homemade Cleaning Wipes

Combine 8 oz. each distilled white vinegar and water, 2-3 drops of liquid dish detergent, and 15 drops of lemon or lavender essential oil for fragrance and additional grease-cutting power. Use these homemade cleaning wipes on glass, painted, plastic, or metal surfaces and follow with a clean, damp cloth to avoid streaks. Do not use these wipes on marble, granite, or other stone surfaces. (Try my homemade granite cleaner instead.)

Homemade Hand Sanitizing Wipes

Gently stir together 6 oz. of 90% isopropyl alcohol, 3 ounces of aloe vera gel, and 1 teaspoon of liquid dish soap. To use, rub your hands, fingers, and nails with a wipe until fully saturated then allow them to air dry. Apply moisturizer afterward if desired. Store in a cool, dark spot away from heat and direct sunlight.

Homemade Baby Wipes

Combine 16 oz. water, 4 oz. aloe vera gel (protects skin), 2 tsp. baby shampoo, 1 tsp. distilled white vinegar (prevents mold and diaper rash) and 3-4 drops lavender essential oil.

Homemade Makeup Remover Wipes

Shake together 2 cups warm water, 2 tablespoons olive oil, and 4 drops of tea tree essential oil (helps clear up acne, kills bacteria, and prevents mold). Pour over wipes.

Step 4. Use and Reuse

Put the material into the container and add your chosen solution. Fasten the lid firmly in place and shake the container to fully saturate the wipes. Use the wipe as directed in the recipe. After use, discard or launder the material. To avoid cross-contamination, never put used wipes back into the container.

Common Questions About Homemade Wipes

Below are some frequently asked questions about making your own wipes. If you have questions not covered here, feel free to ask them in the comments!

Can I Just Pour Bleach in the Container?

Bleach isn’t suitable for use in homemade wipes because, once mixed with water, it loses effectiveness after about 24 hours. The proper way to use bleach for household disinfection is by combining 2 tablespoons of bleach per 1 quart of water and applying it to clean surfaces so they remain wet for 5 minutes.

Can I Switch Isopropyl Strength?

The higher the concentration of isopropyl, the faster it evaporates. When you disinfect household surfaces, the surface must remain wet long enough to kill germs. With homemade disinfecting wipes, the surface must remain wet long enough to kill germs. Using a stronger concentration of isopropyl like 90% would result in faster evaporation and less germ removal. So it’s best to stick with the recipe provided.

What Can I Substitute for Isopropyl?

If you can’t find isopropyl alcohol in the first aid section of the store or pharmacy, you can substitute a “neutral spirit” or “rectified spirit” as long as it’s 120-proof. Everclear is one brand that’s available at package stores in most states.

Can I Reuse the Wipes?

If you’re using fabric wipes, launder them before re-use. Wash them with your towels or in their own load using a hot temperature setting, then run them through the dryer or line-dry them. It’s okay if the edges look curled when they’re finished drying — once you pour a fresh batch of homemade wipes solution over them, they’ll flatten again.

Can I Use Other Essential Oils?

The essential oils I’ve recommended all contain anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties, and they provide cleaning power and keep the wipes from getting moldy during storage. If you choose to switch essential oils, your results may vary. Pet owners, be sure to choose essential oils that are safe for cleaning around pets.

How Long Can I Store Homemade Wipes?

You should store your homemade wipes away from sunlight in a cool, dark spot. Use them within a month. Keep all homemade cleaners containing isopropyl or spirits away from heat and flame. Also, store them out of reach from kids and pets.

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6 Comments

  1. If you use the cloths do you just throw them in the washer after you use them?

    1. Katie Berry says:

      Yep! Wash them on their own or with a load of towels in hot water to kill germs then run them through the dryer.

  2. 5 stars
    Perfect timing! Thank you for sharing this!

    1. Katie Berry says:

      You’re very welcome!

  3. Wendy L Nolan says:

    5 stars
    I added just a few drops of Essential Peppermint Oil to mine just so it wouldn’t smell too medicinal, but they work just fine. I used GA Pacific paper towels, like the ones you would find in a business setting or bathroom. They seem to hold up well. I wiped my kitchen counters to try them out and the paper towel actually stays wetter twice as long as Clorox or Lysol wipes. I am very pleased! Thank you!!! You saved me money and provided a much more natural way to clean!!!

    1. Katie Berry says:

      I’m so glad you like them, Wendy. Adding Peppermint essential oil sounds like a great idea!