DIY Disinfectant Wipes: What You Should Know

Sonja Koukel, Extension Health Specialist

Note: Recipes available online for DIY disinfectant wipes often include ingredients such as vodka, vinegar, tea tree oil, and other natural products. Studies have not found compelling evidence that they’re effective in disinfecting surfaces for the coronavirus. The information provided on this page may be printed here, Printer Friendly (PDF).

Using Disinfectant Wipes (

  • If surfaces are dirty, they should be cleaned using a detergent or soap and water prior to disinfection.
  • Wear disposable gloves when cleaning and disinfecting surfaces. Gloves should be discarded after each cleaning. If reusable gloves are used, those gloves should be dedicated for cleaning and disinfection of surfaces for COVID-19 and should not be used for other purposes.
  • Clean hands immediately after gloves are removed.

Guidelines for using alcohol and bleach on non-porous surfaces


  • Isopropyl alcohol or rubbing alcohol with at least 70 percent alcohol – undiluted – will kill coronavirus on surfaces in about 30 seconds. (between 60-80% works well).
  • Cleaning with undiluted alcohol works best on small surfaces, such as house keys, the surface of a toilet handle, doorknobs, phones, and computer keyboards. These smaller items stay wet for the appropriate length of time for killing the virus.
  • Contact time, the amount of time the surface should remain wet with cleaner to be effective is around 5 minutes for virus-killing.
  • Alcohol evaporates off surfaces too quickly to actually neutralize the germs over large surfaces.


When EPA-approved disinfectant wipes are unavailable, bleach is the next best product. * Check to ensure the product is not past its expiration date. * Make sure it’s household bleach, not a bleach alternative such as color-safe or chlorine-free bleach. Using regular chlorine bleach (sodium hypochlorite) follow these recommended solutions: • 1/3 cup bleach per gallon of water • 4 teaspoons bleach per 1 quart of water

According to the EPA, let the surface remain wet for at least 5 minutes, letting it air dry. Then, rinse down all surfaces with warm water. Important: Bleach solution should be used within 24 hours as it loses effectiveness with time.

Don’t mix bleach with ammonia as the combination is toxic.