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

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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.

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
4.75 from 12 votes

Homemade Multi-Purpose Disinfectant Spray

3 ingredient disinfecting spray.
Kristin Marr
Prep Time5 minutes
Total Time5 minutes
Course Homemade
Cuisine Cleaning
Servings 16 oz


  • 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)



*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. 
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.
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.
Tried this recipe?Let me know how it was!

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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  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

    1. 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. 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

  5. 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.

    1. 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.

  6. 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…

      1. What are the pros and cons between using vodka vs. using vinegar though? How do they compare?

      2. Hey Lo, From my research, vinegar is less controversial as far as it’s disinfectant properties. There’s more studies to support the use of vinegar in this role.

  7. 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! 🙂

  8. 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.

    1. Hey Alice, I’m sorry to hear they’ve been sick. I can only speak to what I would do in my own home…

      In that particular scenario, I’d personally use 100% vinegar with tea tree, and also wash everything with HOT soapy water. I personally would use the strongest vinegar solution possible and also air out my home (opening windows and doors, if possible).

      Here’s some info: http://www.rodalesorganiclife.com/home/natural-disinfectant and http://mbio.asm.org/content/5/2/e00013-14.full

      And here’s info about alcohol uses: https://www.cdc.gov/hicpac/disinfection_sterilization/6_0disinfection.html

  9. 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.

      1. 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?

      2. 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.

  10. 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!

      1. 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.

    1. Hey Lisa, Yes, you can. The only caution is that the odor will be very strong! I would also recommend reducing the amount to a 50/50 concentration versus the current recipe.