Homemade Multi-Purpose Disinfectant and Deodorizing Spray

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Homemade Multi-Purpose Disinfectant Spray. Banish the germs from your house for good! Multi-purpose and only 3 ingredients!

Two weeks ago, Mrs. Sniffles knocked on our “door.” I tried to convince her to leave with my homemade remedies, but she insisted on staying, so for the last two weeks we’ve been battling an unwelcome guest and nasty sinus infections.

Mrs. Sniffles was sure to pack every “present” for her extended stay, too: runny nose, sore throat, tiredness, etc. Thankfully, after lots of rest, vitamin C, sore throat tea, elderberry syrup shots, and elderberry soda, Mrs. Sniffles finally decided to pack-up her remaining luggage and move on. Hallelujah! It’s wonderful to have energy and a clear head again.

As it turns out, our family isn’t the only family who’s been affected by Mrs. Sniffles. She’s quite the experienced traveler! The entire school district in Pinellas County (where we live) has been hit hard by her visits. Some schools have seen dramatic decreases in weekly attendance since January.

Right now is the perfect time to start talking about (and using) a light disinfectant spray. Or shall I say a replacement for the stuff  found on store shelves? I’m sure most of us have vivid memories of heavily-perfumed sprays due to their popular use in restaurant bathrooms, homes, and even classrooms.

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Homemade Multi-Purpose Disinfectant Spray. Banish the germs from your house for good! Multi-purpose and only 3 ingredients!

Just the other day I noticed a store-bought spray and its infamous, headache-inducing scent in the women’s bathroom at Dustin’s work. Honestly, I don’t blame his work (or others) for using a store-bought spray, because marketing would lead me to believe that a store-bought solution, full of mystery ingredients, is the only way to properly clean and disinfect a room. Personally, I never once thought about what was in those sprays before our real food conversion, or even thought that a simple alternative may be sitting in my pantry or medicine cabinet.

Homemade Multi-Purpose Disinfectant Spray. Banish the germs from your house for good! Multi-purpose and only 3 ingredients!

Alcohol may be used for much more than a strong cocktail. It’s also a very handy DIY ingredient, as well as vinegar and particular essential oils.

Homemade Multi-Purpose Disinfectant Spray. Banish the germs from your house for good! Multi-purpose and only 3 ingredients!

Disinfecting is an activity that’s (generally) done after cleaning and, in my cleaning opinion, needs to be done much less often in the average home. “Disinfecting…refers to killing a high percentage of the germs on a surface or rendering them incapable of reproducing.” (source)

Disinfecting takes care of more than just dirt, grease, or dust. I don’t believe disinfecting every surface on a regular basis is essential in a modern-day home, thanks to indoor plumbing and healthy hygiene practices. Now when Mrs. Sniffles comes knocking, or I cut raw meat on my favorite cutting board, I’m all about using a homemade disinfectant spray. PS: I share my preferred approach for disinfecting a cutting board at the bottom of my recipe. 

Homemade Multi-Purpose Disinfectant Spray. Banish the germs from your house for good! Multi-purpose and only 3 ingredients!

And that, my friend, is exactly why I mixed up a bottle of my simple 3-ingredient homemade spray this past week. Take that Mrs. Sniffles!

More Natural Ways to Protect Against Unwanted Germs

Homemade Multi-Purpose Disinfectant Spray
4.45 from 9 votes
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Homemade Multi-Purpose Disinfectant Spray

3 ingredient disinfecting spray.

Course Homemade
Cuisine Cleaning
Keyword Disinfectant Spray
Prep Time 5 minutes
Total Time 5 minutes
Servings 16 oz
Author Kristin Marr

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups 100 proof alcohol (vodka) or higher get the highest proof alcohol you can find (in some states you can buy 190 proof, which is Everclear, if not at least 100 proof) or at least 70% isopropyl rubbing alcohol. Rubbing alcohol can damage painted and varnished surfaces so it's best to spot test first.*
  • 1/2 cup white distilled vinegar or more alcohol
  • 50-60 drops tea tree essential oil or lavender essential oil (optional)

Instructions

  1. Pour the vodka into a 16 ounce spray bottle and then the essential oil(s). Shake the bottle to combine the vodka and oils. Finally, add the vinegar and shake the bottle again. This recipe is not safe to use on special stone surfaces, like granite or marble, due to the vinegar. Please see the notes section below for more information.

  2. I've also used a Bandit Oil (Thieve's Oil or Germ Destroyer) blend in my spray instead of the tea tree essential oil.  Learn more about the science behind using essential oils for disinfecting.

Recipe Notes

*100 proof alcohol does not equal 100% alcohol. There has been some confusion about this, as this is different in some countries. In the US (where I live), a 40% ABV (alcohol by volume) is 80 proof and one that is 45% ABV is 90 proof. And so on. A 50% ABV is 100 proof and it goes higher from there. 

The essential oil is added as an antibacterial ingredient. Hydrogen peroxide can also work as a disinfectant when used straight (not diluted with anything and don't mix with vinegar!). Just be careful with hydrogen peroxide as it can bleach colored fabrics. 

CORONA VIRUS UPDATE: With coronavirus on the rise, this post is particularly helpful from a pediatrician. She specifically addresses coronavirus. I'm not a doctor or disease specialist. Please consult your doctor and the CDC website to do your own research about the best ways to protect your family. The CDC recommends disinfectants contain 60% alcohol or higher.

 

Cutting Board Note: When it comes to disinfecting cutting boards (after cutting raw meat), I disinfect the surface using vinegar and hydrogen peroxide (do not combine these ingredients in one bottle!); the order doesn’t matter. First spray one ingredient, letting the disinfectant rest for five minutes, then wipe the surface with a cloth. Finally, repeat with the second disinfectant. Wait five minutes, then wipe the surface with the cloth. You can see the entire process in this cutting board post. Another disinfectant spray option in the kitchen is a Bandit Oil Spray.

Homemade Multi-Purpose Disinfectant Spray. Banish the germs from your house for good! Multi-purpose and only 3 ingredients!

Disclaimer: The DIY recipes on this website are based on my personal experiences. I am not a trained chemist, cleaning specialist, or skincare expert. The DIY recipes shared on this website haven’t been tested in a lab. Information about my products or recipes haven’t been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. Please consult a doctor or specialist for specific concerns about any skincare issues, cleaning products, or dietary needs. Please use your discretion, based on your own research, when making homemade products.

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107 Comments

      • Thanks, Stephanie! I’m glad you commented. The original recipe didn’t include vinegar. And that’s when we had this convo. Going to make sure people are aware that this comment was directed to the recipe without vinegar.

  • 5 stars
    Lovely recipe! I love homemade things and eco-friendly solutions! This multipurpose spray will be perfect for me. It come at a right time for me because the spring cleaning is about to start very soon. Thanks for sharing!

  • You should remove this post. Alcohol needs to be at least 60% for disinfection, that is why they sell rubbing alcohol starting at 70%.
    Telling people to dilute vodka, which is only 40% alcohol to begin with, and use it for disinfection is bad advice. Even if your readers notice that you are using high proof vodka (which is not really Vodka any more, as Vodka, by definition is 40% alcohol), that is still not nearly strong enough for disinfection, as your “high proof vodka” is only 50% alcohol. Your mixture might make some pillows smell nice, but it is not wise to recommend people use it for fighting germs.

      • I’m confused, so which vodkas/alcohols are actually going to be effective in this recipe? Unclear about your answer to Brian also. And if we sub out the alcohol with vinegar, that means 1 whole cup of white distilled vinegar?

        • Hey Lo, Yes, you can use 1 cup of vinegar, or even 100% vinegar depending on the surface you’re spraying. Rubbing alcohol is considered the most effective to my knowledge and reading on the CDC, but many people don’t like using rubbing alcohol when it comes to spraying something in the home. I definitely encourage you to read more about both on the CDC website. The recipe is what I use, so reading up on the ingredients (and studies) is highly encouraged.

  • Has anyone tested this to see what germs are killed? I bought the ingredients today, but my kids have the flu and strep. I’m trying to avoid bleaching the whole house, but I’ve gotta kill the germs.

  • Hi Kristin, I am wondering do i use a cup of white vinegar for the recipe if I do not have high proof vodka? I just started my diy natural journey and I’m so glad that I found your website! 🙂

  • What was it that made you include vinegar? I’m searching for the perfect disinfectant recipe and am a little confused about the battle for best disinfectant, vinegar vs vodka…

  • Hi Kristen, I am wondering why the vinegar was added ? Are you saying the alcohol and tea tree alone does not disinfect? I’m only asking as I liked to used this on my counter tops intermittently and I have read that vinegar is not safe for granite. Thank you.

    • Hey Craig, The alcohol and tea tree work great for that purpose (and most purposes, in my opinion). Always test a small area first before using it on stone or delicate surfaces. I added the vinegar for tougher disinfecting jobs which some folks felt tea tree and alcohol may not be enough for.

  • hello Kristin, read in reviews that disinfectant can be made by just Vinegar and Tea Tree oil.
    So below works?
    1/2 cup white distilled vinegar
    3/4 cup water
    50-60 drops tea tree essential oil or lavender essential oil

  • What are your thoughts for using this as a surface spray on, leave on to air dry disinfectant for an in-home child care situation? Like to spray on toys and surfaces after the children leave for the day? My other question is would this discolor wood surfaces? We have mostly wood toys in my home-based preschool program. Thank you! The childcare centers I always worked in used a bleach/water solution for this purpose but didn’t have many wooden toys and in addition my home is bleach-free and we use only natural, essential oil based cleaners.

    • My two cents, outdoormama… I think this would be fine as a leave-on spray. It would just take a bit longer to dry than conventional Lysol. You could try using rubbing alcohol instead of vodka, and/or increasing the ratio of whichever alcohol you do choose to use since alcohol evaporates faster than water or vinegar. I use rubbing alcohol in my homemade window cleaner for just this reason. Bear in mind, though, that increasing the alcohol content might damage the finish on the wooden toys… Test in an inconspicuous area or on a less valuable toy

  • 4 stars
    Great recipe, thank you! I did want to alert folks that many essential oils are toxic to cats, including tea tree/melaleuca, lavender, peppermint, thyme, and others. Please do your research before using essential oils in places where cats can touch or even inhale them. I have discovered that rosemary essential oil is both an excellent disinfectant AND is safe for cats.

  • I forgot, I also wanted to address a question posted by someone else re: using just vinegar, water, and the essential oil… Mixing the essential oil with vodka (or other alcohol) before adding the other fluids keeps the essential oil suspended in solution instead of separating and floating on top. Anytime I use essential oils in my homemade cleaners, I ALWAYS mix them with cheap vodka or rubbing alcohol before adding the rest of the ingredients. This prevents you from having to shake the bottle every three seconds, and ensures that each spritz has the same ratio of ingredients.

  • how long can this recipe be effective/potent? I probably can’t finish the whole bottle in one go. Of course I can always reduce the proportion but i wanted to avoid the hassle

  • I actually. Used wintergreen rubbing alcohol , vinegar, and water only. No oils. Im using it to disinfect the couch I slept on when I had a cold. It smells minty fresh now.

  • Like the idea of this recipe but it will sure open your sinuses! When using the rubbing alcohol and vinegar can I increase the water to a cup to help with the strong smell ? Or will that decrease the effectiveness of disenfecting?
    Also how long does the solution need to sit on a surface to actually disenfect it?
    Thanks for reading all of this!

  • After reading through the comments, will both of these recipes work as kitchen wipes and spray:

    1/2 distilled or boiled water
    1/2 white distilled vinegar
    50-60 drops tea tree essential oil

    or

    3/4 distilled or boiled water
    1/2 white distilled vinegar
    1/2 high proof vodka or rubbing alcohol
    50-60 drops tea tree essential oil

  • So what about 80 proof or the 100 proof ? It seems most people purchase higher proofs for cocktails…….funny how anyone commenting is an expert ? I mean really who buys less than 80 proof?….I guess Brian ??? I think you should remove Brian’s comment ??

  • 5 stars
    So glad I found your blog! I bought your book too!! After my daughter ate some store bought carpet powder (she’s fine, thank God!) and after fighting a bout of strep throat in my home, I think I’m ready to make the switch to some natural cleaning solutions!
    Quick question on this disinfectant spray: what is its shelf life?

  • I made this recipe using vinegar, rubbing alcohol and thieves for the substitutions. I do not recommend that at all. It came out smelling like a Big Mac!!! Lol

  • Would you recommend using Oregano essential oil either with or in place of the Tea Tree oil? I’ve read that it is a great disinfectant.

  • If you have pets, make sure you check which essential oils are toxic to them before you start mixing and spraying! Tea tree doesn’t play nice with cats, for example.

  • Is this much Tea Tree safe for use around pets? I’m just starting looking for a receipe and I’m curious. Thank you

  • Thank you for this amazing and wonderful DIY disinfectant ingredients, Kristin!
    However, before I start making this, I want to ask two questions: 1) Can I use this spray to disinfect clothes & 2) Is this ‘baby-friendly’, where in I can use to clean baby toys?

  • 5 stars
    Hello,

    My name is Liz and I am the WebAdmin for our Church website, http://www.pahoasacredheart.org. Since the Coronavirus came up, I have been looking on the internet for homemade sanitizers. I came across your recipe, followed your ingredients and I have to say, it is the BEST. I can’t thank you enough for coming up with this stuff.

    I was wondering if it will be okay with you if I could link on our church website the recipe. We are located on the Big Island of Hawaii. We cannot find any hand sanitizers, disinfectant wipes, sprays, etc. All credit to you of course.

    We will be forever grateful to you.

    ps: I also have a blog and I would love to post and link your website.

    Aloha, Liz M.

    • Hi Liz, thank you so much for the kind words! Means a lot to LS.

      Yes, you are able to do that. Thanks for wanting to share!

      LS Team.

  • Hi,
    your recipe for disinfectant spray.
    What size bottle of tea tree essential oil should I buy? How many ml is 50 t0 60 drops?
    What is the purpose of using tea tree essential oil? Is it just for a cosmetic smell?
    Thank you.

    • Hi David,

      a 10ml bottle will have between 200-250 drops.

      Tea tree oil is a natural antibacterial product.

      Hope this helps!

      LS Team.

  • Hello
    Please clarify, I see vinegar listed twice in your disinfectant recipe. Once as an alternate to rubbing alchole or vodka. The second time, viniger is listed as an ingredient. Do measure vinegar twice?

  • Hi, I have a couple small bottles of tea tree oil, but I’ve also got a large bottle of peppermint oil, would that also work?

  • Hi Kristin,

    Can i use pure white vinegar instead of distilled vinegar, I couldn’t find any distilled vinegar in our place.

    Thank you

  • Hi there I want to thank you for your your recipe, I have shared this on my FB. This will fight covid 19.
    Thank you, this is a life saver

  • Good afternoon, I was searching for recipes to use high proof alcohol as a disinfectant spray.

    I was shocked to see use using/recommending using only 100 proof Vodka. The recommended percentage, which is different from Proof, is 70% or higher. 100 proof Alcohol is only 50%. The proof rating is twice the % level. So at a minimum 140 Proof alcohol is needed.

    • Not everyone can find this high of an alcohol content to my knowledge, so that’s why I say 100 proof or higher. Glad you’re doing your research as that’s what everyone needs to do. The CDC has info that can help.

      LS Team

  • So happy to have found this as I’m almost out of our 7th Gen air spray from the store and of course there is none to be found anywhere now. This is the only decent DIY recipe I’ve found that uses alcohol instead of just witch hazel and distilled water. I’ve followed Kristen for years, don’t know why I didn’t check here first! Thanks team LS.
    If anyone is looking for alcohol for recipes like this during the COVID 19 pandemic – https://www.corsairdistillery.com/hand-sanitizer/
    It is 80% ethanol so clears the CDC’s recommendations.

  • Hi there –
    Love all your recipes, especially the DIY hand soap.
    I want to make this spray but my concern is the essential oil. I know it’s for smell, but, my husband isn’t thrilled with the small oily film the hand soap leaves and is skeptical about this spray. Will it leave an oily residue on the counter tops or stove? Thank you!

  • I’m looking for a way to disinfect the air in my home. Do you have a recipe for spraying the air rather than surfaces?

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