How To Make Disinfectant Wipes

Sick of buying disposable disinfectant wipes? Make your own and reduce plastic waste with this easy DIY project.

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30 minutes






Ubiquitous since the pandemic, disposable disinfecting wipes kill germs on surfaces but create tons of waste. Plastic tubs end up in landfills and our oceans, and the wipes themselves are often disposed of improperly. Never flush any kind of wipe, even if the manufacturer claims they're flushable.

The good news is, you don't have to contribute to the ever-growing disposable wipes industry. It's easy to make your own. All you need is isopropyl (aka rubbing) alcohol, a reusable container and paper towels or strong napkins. Reduce your footprint further by using 100% recycled paper products.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says 60% to 90% alcohol dilution works for disinfection, so there's no need to go higher even if you see it in the store. And while bleach is a great disinfectant, the efficacy of diluted bleach drops after 24 hours. So unless you plan to use all of your bleach wipes in one day, alcohol works best.

Tools Required

  • Jar or container with airtight lid
  • Scissors
  • Serrated knife

Materials Required

  • 70% isopropyl alcohol
  • Roll of paper towels or sturdy napkins

Project step-by-step (6)

Step 1

Choose your container

Choose Container disinfectant wipesAlly Childress for Family Handyman

Step 2

Cut towels to size

  • Eyeball your towels to make sure they’ll fit in the jar.
    • A partial roll of paper towels might work better than a full one.
  • Cut the roll of paper towels in half with a sharp serrated knife.

Step 2 Cut Towels for disinfectant wipesAlly Childress for Family Handyman

Step 3

Remove cardboard core

  • Pull out the center cardboard from the roll.
  • If it doesn’t pull out easily, cut it out with the scissors.

Step 3 Remove Cardboard for disinfectant wipesAlly Childress for Family Handyman

Step 4

Place towels in container

  • Squeeze the towel roll and push it into the Mason jar.
    • It’s easier with a wide-mouth jar.
  • Pull a towel from the middle of the roll to start the pop-up action.
  • If you’re not using paper towels, arrange folded napkins or “guest towels” in the container.

Step 4 Pull Middle Paper Out EditAlly Childress for Family Handyman

Step 5

Add alcohol

  • Slowly pour about a cup of 70% rubbing alcohol into the jar.
  • Watch the towels as they absorb the liquid. Add more until saturated.
    • My 32-ounce Mason jar took about a cup and a half of alcohol.

Step 5 Pour In AlcoholAlly Childress for Family Handyman

Step 6

Cap and use

  • Thread the first towel through the spout in the lid.
  • Screw on the cap.
  • Dispense the towels and snap the lid closed to prevent evaporation.
  • Start disinfecting!

Step 6 Close UpAlly Childress for Family Handyman