Are you wondering what the best homemade disinfectant spray is that fits the criteria of both the CDC and World Health Organization? In this post, I will walk you through how to make a safe disinfectant spray that fits those guidelines.
It has never been more important to be able to thoroughly and quickly disinfect surfaces. Many have resorted to toxic pre-made disinfectant wipes that are bad for the environment and your health, as most contain ingredients that are well-established skin and lung irritants. Don’t fret because there are better and less expensive options like the simple recipe I am showing here that can properly disinfect surfaces without the nasty side effects.
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Safe Disinfectant Spray DIY Recipe:
1 and ¾ cups Everclear 190 proof = 95% Alcohol or Rubbing Alcohol at 90% or higher
1 Tablespoon 3% Hydrogen Peroxide
16 Drops Grapefruit Seed Extract (Optional)
5-15 Drops of Essential Oils (Optional per 4 oz of the mixture)
3 Tablespoons Distilled Water
Combine ingredients into spray bottle glass jar, adding distilled water last and shake well. Pour the mixture into individual mister bottles. If using the 4 oz mister bottles, you can wait and add the essential oils to each one individually (recommended) by adding 5-15 drops directly to the bottle.
Super Simple Safe DIY Disinfectant Spray:
Mix 1 and 3/4 cups of the alcohol at 90% or above with ¼ cups of the distilled water.
Why this homemade disinfectant spray works:
Alcohol makes a great disinfectant and has been used for centuries for that purpose. Alcohol disinfects through a process called denaturing. When bacteria are exposed to alcohol, the alcohol can weaken the bacteria’s cell membrane and then dissolve the proteins through a process known as denaturation. Bacteria cannot survive without those protein functions, and the cell dies quickly.
For an alcohol-based disinfectant spray to be fully effective, it will need to contain 60-80% alcohol. While lower concentrations like vodka, which usually only have around 40% alcohol by volume, are not strong enough to immediately and thoroughly disinfect on their own higher concentrations are also not very effective.
For example, a 91% alcohol solution used without dilution can be too powerful to use against bacteria as it fry’s the outside of the cell. The injury to the cell causes bacteria to form a protective shell making it harder to kill. On the other hand, viruses do not have a protective shell, but the higher the concentration of alcohol, the quicker the alcohol evaporates, and you do not want the alcohol to evaporate before it gets a chance to kill the virus.
Diluting the alcohol down to a lower concentration using water to the correct ratio allows it to cross the cell membrane to kill the bacteria as well as takes more time to evaporate, which allows it more time to effectively kill viruses. The final alcohol percentage in the above recipe will be between 75-83%.
Now that you understand the importance of alcohol percentage for making an effective homemade disinfectant spray, let’s discuss the ingredients.
Breakdown of Ingredients Used for Safe Disinfectant Spray:
For this recipe, we are going to be using Everclear. Everclear is the strongest form of grain alcohol you can buy at 190 proof making its alcohol content 95% (you can figure out alcohol content by dividing proof in half). Everclear is a form of ethanol alcohol, which is the consumable form of alcohol and found in alcoholic beverages.
Isopropyl alcohol also known as rubbing alcohol, is the kind found in drug stores. That type of alcohol has toxic substances that are added for the purpose of preventing people from drinking it. These toxic substances can also be harder on the respiratory tract, which is why I recommend using Everclear instead of rubbing alcohol, but if you cannot find or do not feel comfortable using Everclear feel free to substitute with rubbing alcohol that is 90% or above.
For an additional powerful disinfecting boost, we will be adding hydrogen peroxide to this mixture. Hydrogen peroxide works to disinfect by destroying essential cell components and is effective against a wide range of microorganisms, including bacteria, yeasts, fungi, viruses, and spores. Think of it as a far safer and more environmentally friendly alternative to chlorine bleach. For this recipe, you can use either 3% food-grade or drug store hydrogen peroxide (the one that comes in a brown bottle).
If you would like to learn more about dilution and the different hydrogen peroxide grades, check out my post on The Ultimate Guide to Cleaning with Hydrogen Peroxide.
Grapefruit Seed Extract:
Grapefruit seed extract is made from seeds and pulp of grapefruit. This ingredient is optional, but it will add an extra potent punch to this product’s disinfecting power. Grapefruit seed extract is a powerful antimicrobial, antiviral and antifungal agent. It can also be used to help preserve products. If you would like to learn more about grapefruit seed extracts use as a disinfectant against viruses and bacteria, here is a study published on its effect on pathogens.
Essential oils are distilled or pressed plant matter where unique aromatic compounds are extracted from the plant creating a potent, volatile oil. All essential oils possess varying degrees of being antibacterial, antifungal, and antiviral. What essential oil or oils you choose are up to you, so feel free to customize it to your liking, but popular ones include tea tree, lavender, rosemary, and sweet orange. Using essential oils in this recipe is definitely optional although essential oils can be wonderful, they vary greatly in quality and should be used with caution, especially if pregnant or nursing and around small children or pets.
If using essential oil keeps the mixture in a glass bottle that is either amber, cobalt, or violet. Glass bottles are necessary as essential oils can degrade plastic and are photosensitive, so you do not want them exposed to too much light. Keep in mind not all essential oils brands are created equal, so it is important to purchase high-quality ones from reputable companies.
Again, the correct dilution is key to making an effective disinfectant spray. In this recipe, we will be using distilled water to get the appropriate dilution. Distilled water has gone through a purification process of being boiled, and the steam is condensed back into a liquid form with all of its impurities removed, including minerals and microorganisms like bacteria and viruses. You can find distilled water at most stores that sell bottled water.
Distilled water is not suitable for drinking because of the mineral removal. As an alternative, you could also boil water for a few minutes then let it cool. It won’t remove the minerals, but it will remove the microorganisms. While the ingredients we use will also kill any bacteria or viruses present as well, it is still important when making any products not to have unnecessary contaminants.
Safe Disinfectant Spray DIY Instructions for Use:
This spray is simple to use spray directly on the surface and let sit several seconds before using a cloth to wipe off. For more sensitive surfaces like electronics, spray the cloth first before wiping it down. It is not necessary or recommended to disinfect every surface in your house. Save disinfecting via this method for high traffic and regularly touched surfaces like keyboards, doorknobs, light switches, and remote controls. This disinfectant spray is great for sanitizing phones!
For disinfecting other surfaces like toilets, bathtubs, sinks, counters etc. I recommend working with Hydrogen Peroxide. For more info, check out my post The Ultimate Guide to Cleaning with Hydrogen Peroxide.
For more tips on making your own safe and effective cleaners check out my book Easy Green Cleaning, available on Amazon.
I hope you found this post on how to make a Safe Disinfectant Spray DIY helpful. If you would like to learn an easy way to convert this non-toxic disinfectant spray into a Homemade Hand Sanitizer (Following WHO Guidelines) check out this post. Thanks for reading and please let me know if you have any additional thoughts or questions by leaving them below.