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Homemade Cleaning Wipes

August 17, 2011

Do you have the ongoing struggle of “cheap and convenient” vs. “better for family and Earth”?

I do. I especially love those no-brainer cleaning wipes, but they are NOT great for the environment and usually contain chemicals that are harsh (I had a case of contact dermatitis from one). So here is my answer to this conundrum: Make your own cleaning wipes. It’s less expensive and more enviro-practical (is that a word? I think I just made that up ๐Ÿ™‚ ) than conventional wipes once you have your supplies set up. I think it is well worth the minute or two of set-up work. Here’s what I did:

Homemade Cleaning Wipes

I’ve put several wash rags that have seen better days in an old baby wipes container (left over from the Munchkin) and soaked them in a cleaning solution that is not so harsh for my fam and me. I can get a lot of cleaning miles out of one wash rag and, when it is done I just chunk it in the washing machine (Sometimes it helps to mark the wash rag as a ‘cleaner’ in some way so it does not end up in the ‘regular’ pile).

To do this, you can follow one of the three recipes below. Just make enough solution to keep the wipes moist, not soaked. If you do put too much in, no worries, drain out excess liquid or squeeze the wipes a bit to adjust.


~ Use equal parts white vinegar and tap water.


~ Use 1: 1/2 parts water and an environmentally safe multipurpose cleaner ( I like Mrs. Meyer’s… they all smell so good!).


~ Use a 2:1:1/2 ratio of water, white vinegar and isopropyl alcohol.


~ Make a 3:1 solution of water and any disinfecting/antimicrobial product. I like using a scented antibacterial hand soap.

Now have fun cleaning house!

40 Comments leave one →
  1. August 17, 2011 3:28 pm

    What a great idea! I stopped buying them becasue I can’t find any that are biodegradable and we’re trying not to buy anything we have to turn around and throw in the trash. (You know, the zero waste lifestyle and all..)
    So, this will work just fine.

    • Holly permalink*
      August 17, 2011 4:36 pm

      So glad that works for you, Jennifer! I had a real problem with all the non-biodegradable waste, too. My container holds about 5-6 wash rags, so making a new batch each week isn’t bothersome. It takes about a minute to grab the rags and mix the solution in the container.
      โค and hugs!

  2. Anne permalink
    August 17, 2011 6:30 pm

    Love it!

  3. Janet permalink
    August 19, 2011 12:46 am

    I’m all for non-chemical cleaning! When my asthma flaress up I go “all natural” then get lazy (or cave to marketing) and go back to commercial. But now even if I do that, there’s Mrs. Meyers and Method, etc. Vinegar, baking soda, isopropyl alcohol, hydrogen peroxide are all so inexpensive and clean really well. Sometimes I add a bit of dawn, but that’s the only other ingredient for us other than water. You now have our entire ingredient list for all of our cleaning (except the bathroom, someone comes to do that and uses Mr.Clean MagicEraser generics–don’t know what’s in them, lol)

    • Holly permalink*
      August 19, 2011 12:56 am

      You just named everything under my sink! I don’t have asthma, but seem to break out VERY easily with contact dermatitis, so I know what you mean! If I slack off and buy into something “easy”, I wind up paying for it!

      Thanks for stopping by!

  4. August 19, 2011 1:12 am

    This is really helpful information! Thank you so much for sharing!

    I would love to have you link this up to my first link party–

    • Holly permalink*
      August 19, 2011 1:17 am

      Sure! Thank you for stopping by and for the invite!

  5. August 19, 2011 1:24 am

    Nice! Good to know!

  6. August 19, 2011 1:38 am

    Found you on the Frugal Girls – I’m curious how long they last for you before they turn mildewey smelling (if they ever do). When my son was an infant, we did cloth diapers and cloth wipes for him so I’ve often thought of doing the same now for quick cleaning rags but hadn’t set it up yet. I’d love your thoughts on how long they last.

    FYI, tea tree oil is a fantastic anti-fungal, anti-viral, anti-bacterial and antiseptic properties. I’ve been cleaning our entire house with a vinegar, water, dawn and tea tree oil mixture for more than a year now and we’re all quite healthy and the house looks and smells clean. When I set up the reusable rags like these, I’ll be adding tea tree oil to mine. I highly recommend it. Just a little though – it goes a long way!

    • Holly permalink*
      August 19, 2011 1:48 am

      I’ve not had them get mildewey yet. I go through a box every 5-6 days, which usually syncs with my laundry…. wait, we just have a lot of laundry…anyway!

      Tea tree oil and I go way back! I made a home fragrance spray of tea tree, witchhazel and water because of it’s cleaning properties. Love the stuff!

      Thanks for stopping by and for the great comments!

  7. August 19, 2011 9:13 pm

    One more great way to use vinegar! I store cleaning washcloths in the kitchen, but I love your idea to keep them moist with a cleaning solution. Thanks!

  8. Monica permalink
    August 23, 2011 3:50 pm

    If you’re worried about mildewing, you could always put your cleaner in a spray bottle and keep your rags dry until you need them. That’s what I do. I just keep cleaning rags under the sink with my spray bottle full of homemade cleaner.

    • Holly permalink*
      August 23, 2011 7:35 pm

      That is a good idea, too. I keep a few dry rags close by if I run out and usually wind up spraying them (because I get lazy…).

  9. August 23, 2011 3:58 pm

    So where would i find tea tree oil ?? i know it’s in my fav shampoo but thats all i know about it ?

    • Holly permalink*
      August 23, 2011 7:36 pm

      Megan, I found mine in the natural and organic section of my grocery store. You can probably find some at a great price online, too!

  10. August 23, 2011 4:00 pm

    I love this idea! I really am not a fan of the process of cleaning (although I like the results) so anything that makes it easier is great. I’ve never considered buying disposable cleaning wipes, but did use some at a friends recently, and was thinking how convenient they were, but so dang wasteful. Now I’m on a mission to make these handy little things.
    I did cloth baby wipes when I had kids in cloth diapers, and neither was really that hard.

  11. sharon permalink
    August 23, 2011 4:07 pm

    i a going to try this! also no more pinched finger from trying to get the wipe up through the little hole!!!! ps… why do you have a pic of your neck on your site? just curious….

    • Holly permalink*
      August 23, 2011 7:41 pm

      YES! Those containers annoy me, too!
      As for the pic, it is really to show the necklace I am wearing in it. It is called the Magdalene Seal, and it came from that is an organization that rescues women from slavery and helps them support themselves by creating some beautiful jewelry and crafts. It is an amazing organization and I support their effort wholeheartedly.

  12. Anne Gooch permalink
    August 23, 2011 4:30 pm

    I have been seeing a lot of post for homemade cleaning wipes BUT I love your idea so much more then all the others I have seen! Thanks for posting this and its going in my notebook of all my Green Cleaning products that I can make myself ๐Ÿ™‚

  13. Deb permalink
    August 23, 2011 7:09 pm

    Hi, What do you recommend if you want to make a Homemade BABY WIPE that would be safe and gentle, not stinging?

    • Holly permalink*
      August 23, 2011 7:43 pm

      That is a great question! I’ve not made baby wipes. My first guess would be to just use water? Wondering if anyone else has tried this. Thanks for asking!

      • August 24, 2011 12:31 am

        I have made baby wipes and LOVE them! I just take a roll of paper towels (Bounty seems to work the best) cut it in half with a sharp knife then put half the roll in an empty (round) wet wipe container I then pour a mix of 2 Cups hot water, 1 teaspoon baby wash, and 1 teaspoon baby oil. Close up the container wait 30 min and then pull from the middle. But, if you don’t want to use paper towels you can always keep the mixture in a spray bottleand spray on baby wash clothes just before you use them ๐Ÿ™‚

      • Holly permalink*
        August 24, 2011 12:42 am

        Right on! There you have it- baby wipes. Thank you for sharing, Wendy!

      • Kate permalink
        September 9, 2011 5:49 am

        I used Wendy’s recipe when my little one was a baby 11 years ago! Great recipe & works very well.

    • Alecia permalink
      August 29, 2011 5:06 pm

      I do cloth baby wipes with my cloth diapered little girl. I just use baby washcloths (I got a TON of them as shower gifts) and mix about 1 cup of warm water and 3 squirts of baby wash (it equals about a tablespoon, if you don’t have a soap bottle with a pump). Generally, 1 cup of solution will moisten 12 washcloths perfectly, and I keep them in one of the tubs that come with the disposable wipes.

  14. August 23, 2011 7:14 pm

    That is definitely a great money saving idea!

  15. August 23, 2011 7:33 pm

    thanks for this, I am obsessed with the disinfecting wipes, this will save me some money

  16. August 23, 2011 7:41 pm

    Just one thing…antibacterial hand soap should be replaced with regular soap…a friend of mine is a DR and he said using this antibacterail soaps, hand sanitizers etc are creating these super bugs. The bacterias are building a resitence to bacterias…he suggest plain old soap!!
    Thanks for the great ideas ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Holly permalink*
      August 23, 2011 7:51 pm

      I understand that completely, and it is a good recommendation. The wipes are the only thing I use that I purposely use antibacterial soap with, mainly because I only use them on my counter tops and door knobs. Everything else is some sort of combination of vinegar, lemon juice, water, etc. You and your Dr. Friend are absolutely correct- I recently completed a Microbiology course and we discussed this exact topic. BUT, a little bit on the door knobs won’t bring the end of the world. ๐Ÿ™‚

  17. August 23, 2011 8:28 pm

    I learned two things from my favorite anthro professor that really stuck with me. Diet soda is even worse for you than regular soda and don’t use antibacterial soap. Funny, what sticks with you! ๐Ÿ™‚

  18. Kate permalink
    August 24, 2011 4:51 am

    Thanks so much for this! I have a bunch of washrags that are, well, rags now and I was wondering if I could do something with them. Since we are trying to move away from disposable stuff this is just the thing! Thank you so much!!

  19. jacquie permalink
    August 24, 2011 5:28 am

    When I mark my rags, whether its for something like this, or just normal cleaning rags. I cut the edges of each side. Over time they may fray a little but you can immediately tell whether it’s a rag or a washcloth (since we consistently purchase the same brand)

  20. Deb permalink
    August 24, 2011 5:41 am

    RE homemade baby wipes…I never thought to put the ingredients into a spray bottle! Thanks! Also, I had tried making similar ones years ago, but they got mold/mildew on them after a few weeks (the paper towel variety) and I didn’t want to chance THAT with my babes! That’s why I asked for a newer recipe someone might have.

    Now, after reading about the tea tree oil…do you think just a drop or 2 might be ok, act as a preservative and NOT sting or irritate? or does someone have another idea?

    And by the way, I used to use an ELECTRIC KNIFE to cut the paper towels in half! Worked slick!

    Thanks for your help, folks! My first time here!

  21. nutritionsimply permalink
    August 29, 2011 2:15 am

    I finally got around to making wipes for sticky hands at the kitchen table, and I love them! Thanks so much for the inspiration. I just mixed a few drops of basic H (shaklee all-purpose organic cleaner), 1 cup water, and peppermint extract (for a fresh smell) in a clean and empty 1-quart yogurt container. I filled it up with cut up old T-shirts, put the lid on, and voila! The kids love them and I can usually wipe down the table after doing faces and hands. I’ll have to try tea-tree oil to my next batch.

    As for baby wipes, I have found that a small bottle of 1 cup water with 1 tsp baking soda neutralizes diaper rash really well. I just add or spray a little to 1/4 a dry Viva towel and clean away. We still use some purchased baby wipes because they are so convenient, especially in the car, but this has worked well with us at the diaper station. Just my perspective.

  22. February 16, 2012 12:54 pm

    I use to do this ‘back in the day’, but got away from it….got sucked into convenience:( Thanks for the reminder, I’m starting up again ๐Ÿ˜€

    • Holly permalink*
      February 16, 2012 1:06 pm

      ๐Ÿ™‚ It happens. Life gets crazy and we sometimes have to focus on just getting the job done, not so much how we do it. But I’m glad you are starting up again!

  23. vickie permalink
    March 7, 2012 1:09 am

    Hit the dollar store up for washcloths, make them color-coordinated. (My ratty ones are too ratty for anything!!)

  24. November 10, 2012 4:41 pm

    I found it! Thanks!!


  1. 31 Days of Living Well & Spending Zero | Get Ready to Clean {Day 8}

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