Co-vid 19 has caused a shortage in disinfectants and sanitizers. Reasonably, most sources are directing their supplies to hospitals and healthcare workers. Unfortunately, that leaves most households wondering how we are supposed to protect ourselves and our families. Many turn to DIY products, but how do you know which of the DIY disinfectants actually kill viruses?
I’ve read and searched to find the best DIY alternatives backed by science that I could. Since we can’t buy what has already been tested, we should be able to feel secure in the home solutions we turn to.
While doing my search I based my criteria on info from the Center of Disease Control (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO).
So, cleaners need to be 70% alcohol to be effective and hand sanitizers need to be 60% alcohol. 3% hydrogen peroxide is an effective disinfectant, and of course, bleach (at 4 tsp/qt) is another option. The DIY disinfectants and cleaners I discuss below all fit into these guidelines.
DIY Disinfectants That Will Kill Viruses
LifesCarousel.com has a fantastic post on this topic. She goes into detail about bacteria and viruses, the difference between cleaning, sanitizing, and disinfecting, and then how to clean and disinfect effectively.
She lists 2 cleaners that should be effective according to the CDC guidelines (her rubbing alcohol spray and hydrogen peroxide spray). Both the rubbing alcohol spray and the hydrogen peroxide spray are both simple, effective DIY disinfectants, which is much appreciated. I love the sound of the other two, but I can’t guarantee they can be effective enough for this pandemic. I chose to share the rubbing alcohol spray recipe, but you need to go visit her site to get the hydrogen peroxide recipe. She has more to say on the subject, and it is worth reading.
Rubbing Alcohol Disinfectant
1 part water
1 part alcohol
(90% isopropyl alcohol or 160 proof or higher grain alcohol)
Mix in a spray bottle
Spray on the infected area and let dry
Her 5th suggestion is brilliant, and I think maybe overlooked. She recommends a steam cleaner for difficult to disinfect items, but also if you or a family member are the type to have easily irritated lungs. A steam cleaner eliminates the need for chemical disinfectants and so is easier on the lungs.
Now, I haven’t ever used a steam cleaner, but she recommended the Bissell Power Fresh Steamer.
Simply Well Balanced is written by a former microbiologist, Lauren Tingley. Her blog post, How to Disinfect Your House After Flu or Illness, covers preventing illness, what to use to disinfect surfaces, and follows up with a checklist of what needs disinfecting. It is a very thorough post and worth a read.
Her go-to disinfectant is the
CDC recommended diluted bleach
1/3 cup bleach to 1-gallon water OR 4 tsp bleach to 1-quart water
Mix carefully. Also, only mix what you are going to need for one day. More than that and you may have the issue of the bleach breaking down your plastic container and also the bleach breaking down itself to be less effective.
If you are looking for a disinfectant spray, OneEssentialCommunity has one that can stand in for Lysol since it’s so hard to find now. She discusses essential oils, but her recipe is mostly alcohol (and she even lists the types that make it effective enough), so it fits with the CDC and WHO recommendations. The essential oils are optional but give it a wonderful scent.
Go to her site for step-by-step instructions (with pics!) and more information about the essential oils she lists. She also offers a printable recipe and label, and instructions for how to use the spray.
Fill a 16 oz glass spray bottle most of the way full with alcohol
(140 proof or greater (70%+ alcohol) such as Everclear or rubbing alcohol)
Add 1/2 tsp hydrogen peroxide
Add the following essential oils
- 30 drops tea tree essential oil
- 15 drops lemon essential oil
- 15 drops lavender essential oil
- 15 drops eucalyptus essential oil
Put on spray top and shake to mix well
Bonus: 2 Hand Sanitizers
AGardenForTheHouse shared this hand sanitizer recipe recommended by the WHO.
WHO Recommended Hand Sanitizer
1 cup 99% isopropyl alcohol
1 cup + 4 tsp 91% isopropyl alcohol
1 T 3% hydrogen peroxide
1 tsp glycerin
Enough water to bring the liquid level up to 1 1/3 cups
His post shares step-by-step instructions and a printable version of the recipe.
LifeWithLoveBugs updated her post for homemade hand sanitizer with an additional recipe that uses 90% (or higher) rubbing alcohol.
LifeWithLoveBugs Hand Sanitizer Recipe
2/3 cup 90% or higher rubbing alcohol
1/3 cup aloe vera gel
5-10 drops essential oils
Getting the Ingredients
I tried to find options that you could still get the ingredients for. Isopropyl alcohol is pretty well not available now, but I believe you won’t have too hard of a time finding 160 (or higher) proof grain alcohol at the liquor store. Hydrogen peroxide is more scarce now as well, so you may need to shop around. I found some at Rite Aid (online). I hope it becomes more available again soon, but for now, I’d keep checking assorted stores online.
Aloe vera gel can be hard to find in stores (hopefully it will be more available this summer), but I found Fruit of the Earth brand Aloe Vera Gel on Amazon. I like that brand of aloe because it is alcohol-free (so no burning on your sunburn) and it is a reasonable price compared to most others. Plus there are no other ingredients to possibly mess with your recipe.
I haven’t had any problem finding bleach yet, but who knows if that will change. Any brand will work, no need to only buy Clorox. I do think it matters what variety though. The non-splashing kind may mess with the ratio of bleach to water that you are aiming for in this spray, so I would get the regular kind. I’m also not sure about using the bleach with fragrance. It may be extra irritating to the lungs.
I don’t have any particular opinions on which essential oils to buy. A few of the authors above have their own preferences, so you may want to check their posts to see what they have to say (again, because you already went and read them once, right?). I usually just pick mine up at Walmart, but I’ve ordered from Amazon too when I wanted a specific one that Walmart didn’t carry.
I hope these recipes help, and you feel confident in disinfecting your house. We all need more security nowadays, so I hope I was able to provide some.
If you are interested in other DIY cleaners, you can check out my post 12 Extremely Useful Spoonie Cleaning Tips.