Cleaning products, soaps, antiseptics, and disinfectants are in high demand now as people all over the world do their best to prevent coming into contact with the virus that causes COVID-19.

During this time, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends you regularly disinfect your phone and other high-touch surfaces like doorknobs, tables, and faucets, regardless of whether someone in your home is sick. You might also want to clean your groceries.

But what should you do if the stores are all sold out of disinfectant wipes, or if you’re worried about going out and risking your health by looking for them?

Turns out, you can make your own effective disinfectant wipes at home with some common household items.

These wipes are fast to make and portable, so they’re handy if you have to go out for some reason. The key ingredient is bleach. According to experts, diluted bleach is capable of killing the coronavirus on surfaces.

However, bleach can also be dangerous if used incorrectly. So be sure to read these instructions carefully before getting started.

It’s very easy to make disinfectant wipes with just a few common household items.

To make disposable wipes

  • 1 roll of paper towels
  • 1/3–1/2 cup of bleach (see chart below for how much to add)
  • 1 gallon of water
  • tall airtight container large enough to fit a paper towel roll (use a container with a lid that’s not used for storing food, beverages, or chemicals)
  • gloves for handling bleach

To make reusable, washable wipes

  • small microfiber kitchen cloths
  • 1/3–1/2 cup of bleach (see chart below for how much to add)
  • 1 gallon of water
  • tall airtight container large enough to fit cloths (use a container with a lid that’s not used for storing food, beverages, or chemicals)
  • gloves for handling bleach

There are several types of bleach on the market. One well-known brand is Clorox. This may be the brand of bleach you have at home.

Clorox’s various bleach products have different strengths, which means you need to check the label to know how much bleach you should use. You’ll have to look at your bleach’s UPC (or barcode) to determine the kind.

Don’t use Clorox Splash-Less Bleach, because it doesn’t disinfect like Clorox’s other products.

For these Clorox products, use 1/3 cup of bleach to 1 gallon of water:

ProductUPC (barcode) numbers
Clorox Disinfecting Bleach2 (concentrated)4460032416
4460032263
4460032260
4460032251
4460032249
Clorox Performance2 Bleach (concentrated)4460032428
Clorox Germicidal Bleach4 (concentrated)4460032429
4460032293

For the following Clorox products, use 1/2 cup of bleach to 1 gallon of water:

ProductUPC (barcode) numbers
Clorox Disinfecting Bleach2
Clorox Regular Bleach2
4460030770
4460030769
4460030768
4460031171
4460030985
Clorox Performance Bleach1 with CLOROMAX4460031859
Clorox Germicidal Bleach34460030790

Before you get started, check that your bleach hasn’t passed its expiration date, as this may make it ineffective.

Bleach is an excellent disinfectant that can kill viruses, including the new coronavirus. However, you need to be careful when using bleach. It’s a powerful product that could hurt you if it’s used incorrectly. Bleach can irritate your skin, eyes, and nose. It can also discolor your clothing.

To protect yourself when making your own disinfectant wipes, be sure to wear disposable or reusable rubber gloves and avoid splashing the bleach on yourself or others.

Don’t touch your face or eyes after handling bleach unless you’ve washed your hands first with soap and water, even if you’ve been wearing gloves.

Wear clothes that you wouldn’t mind ruining if you accidentally splashed bleach on them. Be sure to keep bleach away from children and pets. In case of accidental bleach ingestion, call Poison Control at 800-222-1222.

Don’t mix bleach with any other cleaning solutions, especially not ammonia. This can cause a dangerous chemical reaction, which may cause serious injury.

Once you’ve gathered the materials you need to make your own disinfectant wipes, here’s what you should do:

How to make disinfectant wipes

  1. Set up your materials on a safe, clean surface away from children and pets.
  2. Put on your gloves.
  3. Pour water into the container and then add the correct amount of bleach, based on the type you have at home using the chart above.
  4. Place your paper towels or cloths in the bleach solution, ensuring they’re fully submerged.
  5. Allow your wipes to soak in the bleach solution for 5 minutes before using.
  6. Pour excess bleach solution into a spray bottle to use on surfaces or make more disinfectant wipes.

After using these wipes on a surface, don’t touch the surface for 5 minutes. That’s how long it takes for the solution to kill any possible viruses.

If you’ve used the wipes to clean an item that will come into close contact with a person, such as a food utensil or child’s toy, wait 5 minutes and then rinse the object in warm water and allow it to air dry.

If you’ve made reusable, washable wipes, be sure to wash them after each use.

Your homemade disinfectant wipes will remain effective at killing the coronavirus (and other viruses) for 24 hours. You can store them in an airtight container or plastic zip-top bag if you want to take them with you on the go.

Bleach is just one of several chemicals effective at killing the new coronavirus. Alcohol is another disinfectant that experts recommend to prevent exposure to the virus.

You can make alcohol-based disinfectant wipes with 70% rubbing alcohol or 140+ proof vodka. The alcohol percentage must be that high in order to kill the novel coronavirus.

To make alcohol-based wipes:

  • Soak paper towels or cloth wipes in 70% rubbing alcohol or 140+ proof vodka in an airtight container (the same you’d use to make bleach-based wipes).
  • Allowed covered paper towels or cloth wipes to sit for 5 minutes.

Similarly, you can use and store these wipes for 24 hours in an airtight container or zip-top bag before you need to make a new batch.

Alcohol easily evaporates so it’s especially important to keep your wipes covered so they stay moist.

Experts recommend we frequently clean high-touch surfaces and objects to prevent the spread of the virus that causes COVID-19. To do that, many of us reach for disinfectant wipes. If you can’t find them in stores, you can make your own with bleach or alcohol.

Homemade disinfectant wipes are not only easy to make with common household products, but they’re also effective at killing the new coronavirus and other viruses.

If you want to use these wipes daily, it might make sense to make a new batch every morning so you can have them available all day.