How to Make DIY Disinfectant Wipes with Baby Wipes

Is your grocery store completely out of cleaning wipes during the coronavirus pandemic? Here's how to make your own using baby wipes, rubbing alcohol, and essential oil.

Months into the coronavirus pandemic, parents nationwide are still adjusting to changes in daily life. Not only are moms and dads working from home and caring for out-of-school children, they're also having to navigate empty shelves at the grocery store. One of the biggest things still in short supply? Essential cleaning supplies—including disinfectant wipes.

These genius wipes make it easy to sanitize doorknobs, cell phones, light switches, keyboards, and other often-used surfaces to decrease the chances of getting COVID-19. And the good news is that even if you can't find any to buy, there's an easy, affordable way to make DIY cleaning wipes at home. All you need is a pack of baby wipes and some common household items!

Here are the simple supplies you'll need to make disinfectant wipes, the steps to make disinfectant wipes, and how to use them safely.

hands with blue glove wiping doorknob with disinfectant wipe. Horizontal indoors close-up with copy space
Martine Doucet / Getty Images

What You’ll Need

  • 1 package of baby wipes
  • 1 cup isopropyl alcohol (rubbing alcohol). According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), household cleaning products should have at least 70 percent alcohol volume to fight COVID-19.
  • (Optional) A few drops of essential oil. This adds a pleasant smell to the wipes, and it also brings some added cleaning power. A few to consider include tea tree, lemon, lavender, peppermint, eucalyptus, and orange oils.

How to Make DIY Disinfectant Wipes

  1. Keep your baby wipes in their original packaging, or transfer them to another container. This should be air-tight and made of glass, high-quality plastic, or metal; make sure it's safe to use with essential oils and isopropyl alcohol.
  2. Measure out 1 cup of isopropyl alcohol. If desired, mix in a few drops of essential oil.
  3. Pour the mixture over your baby wipes (in their original packaging or the new container). Give it time to seep through and coat them all.

The Best Way to Use Them

Before using, first wipe down the contaminated area with water to remove any dust or dirt participles. Then wipe down the surface with the DIY disinfectant wipe, let it sit for 3 to 5 minutes, and remove the residue with clean water. You can use the wipes on any surface that won't be damaged by alcohol or essential oil. For example, you'll want to avoid wiping down treated wood or painted surfaces. But you can wipe down electronics (with caution), door and cabinet handles, light switches, trash cans, steering wheels, shopping cart handles, and more.

Are DIY Wipes Safe for Kids?

Be careful when using these DIY disinfectant wipes around your kids. Ingesting or inhaling even small amounts of isopropyl alcohol can cause scary symptoms like slurred speech, breathing difficulties, vomiting, sedation, and respiratory failure. In severe cases, your child may get alcohol poisoning, which is an emergency that requires immediate medical attention, says Debra M. Langlois, M.D., an assistant professor of pediatrics at the University of Michigan.

Keep in mind, though, that touching the wipes isn't generally cause for concern. The rubbing alcohol won't harm your child's skin, according to Adena Rosenblatt, M.D., Ph.D, a pediatric dermatologist at The University of Chicago Comer Children's Hospital, although essential oils can cause skin irritation in some cases.

To stay on the safe side, store the disinfectant wipes away from children, use them in a well-ventilated room, and wipe down the clean surfaces with water before your child touches them.

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