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Monday, March 9, 2020

Making Disinfecting Wipes

I've got 2 types of disinfecting/sanitizing wipes that I make myself: alcohol wipes and bleach/water wipes. Both are super simple to make, each having its own purpose. 

The alcohol wipes are great for wiping down electronic devices, such as keyboards, touch screens, and remote controls. 

And I like the bleach and water wipes for wiping down the handle, lid, seat, and rim of toilets, faucet handles at sinks, the handles, knobs and buttons on kitchen appliances, the telephone handset, and the inside and outside of door knobs.

I use those select-a-size paper towels, torn to the smallest rectangle for the bleach wipes, and cut in half for alcohol wipes. I tend to use smaller wipes when using the alcohol ones, due to often cleaning smaller areas with alcohol.

To make a dozen alcohol wipes, you need a small container with tight-fitting lid, 6 sheets of select-a-size paper towels, 70% ethyl alcohol, and scissors. Simply cut each sheet of paper towel in half and stack inside the plastic container. Pour the alcohol over the towels until saturated. Cover tightly.

To make about 10 bleach wipes, you need 10 select-a-size paper towels, each folded over once, some household chlorine bleach, water, and a plastic, lidded container. Stack the folded paper towels inside the plastic container and pour about 1 cup of a bleach and water solution (see below) over to saturate. Cover tightly. Wear gloves when handling the bleach wipes.

For a bleach and water solution, I follow the guidelines of the CDC for using bleach and water as a disinfectant against COVID-10 found here in the section How to Clean and Disinfect: Surfaces. I make 1 cup at a time and only make about 10 wipes at a time, so that I use them soon after making and the bleach does not lose any potency. It's important to use bleach that has not expired. Yeah, right -- who knew that beach could expire? Also, I mark the top of my containers as to which kind of wipe is which.

Part of my daily routine, now, is to wipe down high-touch areas, such as doorknobs, handles, touch screens, remote controls, and light switches. I do this once per day, hoping we can keep the germs to a minimum where ever our hands may go.


  1. You're right, I didn't know bleach expired, although I have experienced the cleaning liquid at the bottom of wipe containers drying out, which makes the wipes useless. That's probably another good reason to only make 10 bleach wipes at a time. Thanks for your "recipes" for making wipes! Are things starting to settle down in your area? My husband heard about a friend from college who is in China and hasn't left her home in 6 weeks.

  2. This is a great way to keep the germs down, Lili. I keep a spray bottle of Lysol next to our toilet to keep it clean. I used the concentrated form so I can add water to it and make it last longer to save money.

  3. We usually buy the cheapest bleach for laundry, but I read that I should buy genocidal bleach for sanitizing surfaces. I bought only a gallon, the Great Value equivalent, and haven't used it yet. I didn't know bleach has an expiration date, thanks, however I am aware that alcohols do. I've been extra mindful of germs lately, hopefully to keep us from any illness.

    Have a good day,

  4. I didn't know that bleach expired! Wow. Thanks for the recipes, very helpful.

    YHF, maybe you mentioned what I have noticed. I've noticed some bleach says for laundry only, not disinfecting, and I was looking at bleach, not color safe bleach. I'll have to look a little closer when I go to Walmart next time.

    Lili, I hope you and your family is staying healthy. You are all in my prayers.


  5. Hi Angie,

    Oops...I didn't mean genocidal lol, funny thought I typed "germicidal". I was half sleepy and didn't type with my reading glasses so I didn't catch that misspell. I bought Great Value brand instead of Clorox because it was a dollar cheaper for the gallon, it says "kills 99.9% of common household germs". The bleach I use for laundry is a very cheap bleach, brand is Cloralen, and it doesn't say it disinfects, but says "deodorizes whitens, deep clean". On the Great Value bleach that disinfects, I am reading the fine print, which I didn't at the store. There is an asterisk note that lists the germs: staph, strep, salmonella, e coli, athletes foot fungus, viruses (influenza A, avian A, H1N1 A, rhino type 37), NOT corona virus. Maybe Lysol is better, since it mentions corona virus? I need to read up more. For surfaces, I do like to use isopropyl, or preferably ethyl since it kills more germs (broad spectrum). I bought the germicidal bleach in worst case scenario situations where I might have to soak clothing in a bucket.

    Have a good day,

  6. Hi Kris,
    Thanks for asking. No, testing is just beginning to be widely available in my area. So, we're only now beginning to be able to see how widespread this is.

    My daughters have a college friend who is from China. She graduated last spring and went home to visit her parents in the fall., then had problems with her visa and couldn't come back. She was able to find a job in China, but then this virus began. Her family was/has been under quarantine in their home. I think she was able to facebook message my daughters and said she was working from home, but couldn't leave and was going a bit stir-crazy. 6 weeks sounds like a very long time to not leave your house for anything. I think it would be worse in a high-rise apartment than your typical suburban American house where you have a yard, at least.

    I haven't gone anywhere in 11 days now. My husband has been home for 7 days and my daughters worked through last Thursday. I seem to catch everything and even though I hadn't been anywhere, yesterday I began to feel a cold coming on. All I can think is I caught this off of one of my family members and my body just magnifies any illness. (Both daughters said they weren't feeling all that great last Friday, but then improved quickly.)

    Anyways, I hope your area doesn't get much of this virus.

  7. Hi Belinda,
    The bottle of Lysol concentrate sounds like a good way to keep germs down, too, while not being terribly expensive. Great way to save money!

  8. Hi YHF,
    I didn't mention this in my post, but I believe I read (from the WHO, I think) that bleach for killing COVID-19 should be 5 or 6% solution of sodium hypochlorite, if I remember correctly. I did a very quick google search and it sounds like Great Value may be 6%, like Chlorox. Does the label on your bottle of bleach indicate the strength of sodium hypochlorite on it?
    The CDC just says household bleach.
    Here's a short article about common cleaners and effectiveness against coronavirus:

    Read the whole article to get the amount of bleach to water, but here's the conclusion:
    On inanimate surface human coronaviruses can remain infectious for up to 9 d. A surface disinfection with 0.1% sodium hypochlorite, 0.5% hydrogen peroxide or 62%–71% ethanol can be regarded as effective against coronaviruses within 1 min. A similar effect can be expected against the SARS-CoV-2."

    It's reassuring to read that all three products, 70%ethanol, 0.5% hydrogen peroxide, and bleach kill coronavirus on surfaces.

  9. Hi Angie,
    Thank you for your prayers. They are very much appreciated. I am praying for all of this to end soon. I hope your area is not badly affected.

  10. Hi YHF,
    in reading that article that I gave an address for (Potential role of inanimate surfaces for the spread of coronaviruses and their inactivation with disinfectant agents), they say the bleach should contain 5% sodium hypochlorite. I'm guessing that's a minimum and 6% is also effective. So, my memory of what the WHO indicated is probably accurate, about the 5 to 6% sodium hypochlorite. Also, in doing the math -- the article seems to agree (or close to) with what the CDC recommends for ratio bleach to water. The article says a 1:50 ratio, and the CDC (when doing the math) recommended ratio works out to 1:48.

  11. Thank you so much, Lili, for all the helpful research and info. Yes, the Great Value is 6% sodium hydrochlorite, so a 1:50 would be about the recommended .1% sodium hypochlorite dilution, actually .12?

    If I understand correctly, the math for CASE mortality for this virus is 1% (could be much higher) vs .1% for the common flu, a 10 fold increase (according to Dr. Scott Gotteib). So anyone saying it's a math thing, that the high mortality rate quoted by WHO could be much lower because many may not know they have the infection is plain bogus. I think the smart thing to do is to be very cautious and proactive rather than dismissive, and not happy talk this virus away. Weigh the risk reward in all your decisions.


  12. I didn't find an expiration date on my gallon of Great Value disinfecting bleach, but it did give a recommended dilution for disinfecting surfaces as 1.5 cups per 2 gallons. Not sure I did the math correctly, but that seems way more than 1:50 to get .1% sodium hypochlorite. Shouldn't it be more like 5.12 (or rounded up to 6)oz, rather than 12oz, per 256oz (2 gal)? I'm am writing these numbers on my gallon of bleach with a Sharpie, so I don't have to do the math again. While I'm sure using the label recommended dilution will disinfect without any problems, using more than needed is wasteful, especially at a time like this when supply is limited. Good for surface disinfecting, but does the recommended change if using the bleach for soaking?


  13. Hi YHF,
    I have 2 bottles of different brands of bleach and 1 has an expiration date, but the other doesn't. My most recently-purchased bottle is the one that doesn't have the date. I bought it a few weeks ago, so I am trusting that it is still potent. I would guess that the label's recommended dilution ratio could be for cleaning known contaminated places, such as toilet bowls, messy raw meat areas (cutting boards, perhaps?) or where someone has been sick with stomach or intestinal issues. When my daughter had something like a norovirus a couple of years ago, I looked up a specific ratio of water to bleach, and I do believe it was a greater amount of bleach than what the CDC recommends for coronavirus. In any case, a gallon of bleach should go a long way and may not even be completely used before the expiration date for many of us. I've only used a few teaspoons out of my container in the last 2 weeks.

    I think it's wise to be proactive, too. I was looking at a comparison of 2 cities in the US during the 1918 flu, where one city was proactive and the other was reactive. The proactive city saved many, many more lives. And what we do know is that if you have a medical issue (like diabetes, heart disease, organ transplant) at any age or you are 60+, your risk of complications from this are significantly increased. And this seems to be highly contagious, as evidenced by the cruise ships and nursing homes, so it's best to just be as careful as possible and take exceptionally good care of your health now, so you could weather any infection at a later date. Plus, as we've both said, by self-isolating, we are preventing one more path of transmission in our communities and perhaps sparing someone else from contracting this.


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