Be Gone, Germs! 8 Easy Ways To Make Disinfectant Spray At Home

by Sam Boone
Originally Published: 
How to Make Disinfectant Spray
Oscar Wong/Getty Images

When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, we got creative with meeting our needs. We made our own bread. We came up with unique ways to keep the kids engaged. Hell, we even stockpiled toilet paper and hand sanitizer. And when disinfectants became scarce, we learned that you don’t need store-bought spray to stay clean! Now that we spend so much time at home, everyone has been digging for the best strategies to keep the house clean. So, if you’re wondering how to make disinfectant spray, you came to the right place.

We’ve got several different DIY ways for you to fight surface germs. They’re based on the CDC’s three recommended ingredients for disinfecting:

  • Bleach
  • Alcohol
  • Hydrogen Peroxide

A quick prep note? Before you disinfect any surface, always clean the area to remove visible dirt and dust.

RELATED: How To Make Scented, Kid-Safe Hand Sanitizer Spray

1. Diluted Bleach Solution

Let’s start with the simplest method that is CDC-approved and easy to make. Household chlorine bleach is easy to find and powerful enough to kill hazardous germs.

What You’ll Need

  • Unscented five-percent to six-percent household bleach
  • Water

Mix one-third cup bleach per gallon of water or four teaspoons bleach per quart of water.

How to Make

Pour the bleach into the spray bottle. Then add water. Close the spray bottle tightly and gently shake or flip to mix. Simple as that!

Knowing which chemicals not to mix, especially with bleach, is essential when making DIY disinfectants. When mixed, some of these can form dangerous gases like chlorine gas or chloroform. That’s scary stuff.

  • Rubbing alcohol: This is how you make chloroform. To avoid knocking yourself or anyone else out, keep these two separate. It can also create hydrochloric acid, which can cause chemical burns.
  • Vinegar: Vinegar plus bleach equals chlorine gas which was also a form of chemical warfare! The battle against germs is serious, but this combination is a danger to all. It can cause violent coughing and chemical burns.
  • Ammonia: Adding ammonia creates chloramine gas. This attacks your respiratory system and can lead to internal organ damage. It can also cause your eyes to burn.
  • Lemon juice: This solution can cause chemical burns.

How to Use

When you’re ready to disinfect, spray the bleach solution on the clean surface and let sit for five to 10 minutes. Bleach is no joke, so be observant. The longer you keep it on, the higher your risk for discoloration on your surfaces. Wipe away when time is up.

Use your homemade spray within 24 hours. While Clorox states that undiluted bleach can last six to 12 months, diluted bleach starts to break down after 24 hours and loses potency. Do not use bleach solutions on wooden surfaces or most metals like stainless steel.

2. Rubbing Alcohol Solution

This solution is highly effective in killing bacteria and viruses and — bonus! — doesn’t use bleach (which can be toxic). Thyme essential oil has antibacterial and antimicrobial properties.

What You’ll Need

  • 20 drops of thyme essential oil*
  • Rubbing alcohol (70 percent to 99 percent), AKA “isopropyl alcohol.” We don’t use 100 percent alcohol because it evaporates too quickly to disinfect.

*If you do not have any thyme oil, you can try oregano, tea tree, cinnamon, or eucalyptus oils.

How to Make

Put the 20 drops of thyme oil in the spray bottle. Fill with rubbing alcohol. Close the spray bottle tightly and gently shake or flip to mix. Shake the bottle every time you use it.

How to Use

Spray directly on soft surfaces. You can spray directly on hard surfaces and wipe it away after 30 seconds or spray into a cloth and wipe it on the surface. If you’re unsure how this spray will affect something, do a spot test.

3. Hydrogen Peroxide Solution

The EPA lists hydrogen peroxide as an effective sterilizer at killing pathogens, including novel coronavirus. You can use a three percent concentration of hydrogen peroxide alone or diluted to .5 percent for disinfecting.

What You’ll Need

  • Quarter of a cup of three percent hydrogen peroxide
  • One cup of water

How to Make

Pour all ingredients into an opaque spray bottle. Why opaque? Like vampires, hydrogen peroxide is extremely sensitive to light and begins to break down when exposed. Shake to combine. Easy breezy!

How to Use

Spray the solution on surfaces and let sit for one minute. Then wipe away. Use in your kitchen, bathrooms, mirrors, and with stainless steel. It’s notably effective for mold removal, disinfecting, and stains on white clothing.

4. Hydrogen Peroxide and Ethyl Alcohol Solution

For this solution, we’re going to use ethanol alcohol instead of isopropyl alcohol. Isopropyl alcohol is typically used in hand sanitizer and alcohol prep pads. Ethanol is the kind of alcohol that you consume — think grain alcohol like Everclear or high-proof vodka (cue memories of getting drunk on cheap liquor in college.) Both alcohols can kill germs. Lysol disinfectant spray contains ethanol.

What You’ll Need

  • Three and a half ounces of distilled water
  • 12 ounces 95 percent ethyl alcohol like Everclear. If using high-proof vodka (minimum 130 proof), do not add water.
  • Half teaspoon hydrogen peroxide
  • 30 to 45 drops of essential oils

Some types of essential oils you can use include:

  • Lavender
  • Peppermint
  • Clove
  • Thyme
  • Tea tree
  • Eucalyptus
  • Rosemary
  • Cinnamon

How to Make

Pour hydrogen peroxide and water into an opaque spray bottle. Next, drop in the desired essential oil blend. Finish the formula by adding the ethyl alcohol. Shake well to combine.

How to Use

Spray on a surface for two minutes and wipe off. This cheap and easy method is fantastic for high-touch surfaces like doorknobs, fridge and sink handles, phones, and remotes.

5. Vinegar Solution

The high acidity level of white vinegar makes this recipe a potent all-purpose cleanser safe for daily use. Vinegar can clean many things, including some germs, but it definitely doesn’t kill all of them. Use it on doorknobs, telephones, window blinds, shoes, and microwaves. You can even use it to dissolve mineral buildup in showerheads and bumper sticker residue.

What You’ll Need

  • Half a cup distilled white vinegar
  • Two cups of water
  • 30 drops essential oils

How to Make

Pour ingredients into the spray bottle and secure the top. Shake the bottle to combine, and it’s ready-to-use. Shake bottle before each use.

How to Use

Spray on surfaces and let sit for 10 minutes. Wipe clean. Word of warning: Do not use this solution on stone countertops like marble or granite. Now that you know how to make disinfectant spray, try all of these recipes! And hit us on social to let us know which works best in your home.

6. Vodka sanitizer

According to the CDC, hand sanitizer solutions need about 60 to 90 percent of alcohol to be effective. Thankfully, some vodkas have a high proof. So, put your alcohol to greater use and follow these instructions below to make your own disinfectant.

What You’ll Need

  • Three-fourths of a cup of vodka (at least 60% alcohol, which is 120 proof)
  • A quarter of a cup of water
  • Essential oils like tea tree or lavender to cut through the smell of alcohol

How to Make

Pour all your ingredients into a spray bottle and seal the lid. Shake your contents until everything is mixed together.

How to Use

Spray on surfaces and let it sit for 10 minutes. Then wipe and let it air dry.

7. Lime Sanitizer

Limes have high acidity levels and can help minimize bacteria. This fruit is used the most for cleaning. It can even help with rust removal.

What You’ll Need

  • Three teaspoons of grated lime
  • Two cups of baking soda
  • One cup borax in a bowl

How to Make

Pour all your ingredients into a jar and tightly seal it.

How to Use

Put your cleanser on a rag and wipe your indoor surfaces, especially after cutting raw meat. Let it sit for 15 minutes and then dry.

8. DIY Disinfectant Spray For Fabric

Hard surfaces aren’t the only spaces that need disinfecting from time to time. To make your very own sweet-smelling fabric sanitizing spray, you’re going to need:

What You’ll Need

  • Three tablespoons of rubbing alcohol
  • One tablespoon of water
  • Ten drops of peppermint essential oil
  • Ten drops of lavender essential oil
  • A spray bottle

How to Make

Pour the ingredients into to a spray bottle and shake it up.

How to Use

When your fabric couch. or linens begin to smell a little raw, spray a few squirts on it to cut through the smell.

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