14 Bleach-Free Surface Disinfectants

A mix of chlorine bleach and water is an effective household disinfectant (and it’s cheap too!), but the bleach is pretty harsh on fabrics, skin and the environment (and a bit stinky too). The good news is that you can still make homemade bacteria busters using fresh or dried herbs, essential oils, vinegar and other basic items you likely have in your home already. These will not only fight germs and bacteria, but most also smell a lot fresher too ;).

Bottled Herb InfusionFirst, here are a few notes:

  • Test surfaces first just to make sure the recipe won’t cause any damage or stains (especially on marble/granite).
  • When using fresh or dried herbs, select those that are pesticide free.
  • Unless otherwise noted, use a large spray bottle (16 oz) and shake before each use.
  • Distilled water is ideal but bottled or from the tap is fine too.
  • Unless directed otherwise, use regular white household vinegar.
  • The sprays can be used on countertops, doorknobs, light switches, cutting boards, etc. Avoid using on fabrics or upholstery unless you’re sure the colors won’t be affected (test a hidden spot).

Ready to get started? Here ya go…

Hydrogen Peroxide & Vinegar: (for countertops) Spray surface with hydrogen peroxide then spray a layer of vinegar over top. Wipe clean.

Hydrogen Peroxide & Tea Tree Oil: 3 cups water, 1/4 cup hydrogen peroxide, 2 TBS lemon juice (freshly squeezed), 10 drops tea tree oil.

Tea Tree Oil & Lavender: Fill a 16 oz spray bottle 1/4 full with equal parts tea tree oil and lavender essential oil. Fill the rest of the bottle with water. Shake before each use.

Lavender Spray: For every cup of water add 20 drops lavender essential oil.

Herbal Infusion: Lavender buds, mint, rosemary, sage, apple cider vinegar. Directions: Fill a large mason jar halfway with equal parts of the above herbs (can be fresh or dried). Fill to near the top with apple cider vinegar, seal jar and allow to infuse in a sunny window for 6 weeks before using (strain first).

Borax & Water: Mix 1/2 cup of Borax per gallon of water. Shake before each use.

Borax & Vinegar: Pour 2 tsp Borax and 4 TBS vinegar into bottle then top with water. Shake to mix.

Rosemary: Mix 1 teaspoon rosemary essential oil with 2 cups of water.

Pine: Mix 12 drops of pine essential oil with 1/2 teaspoon denatured alcohol and 2 cups water.

Grapefruit Seed Extract & Lemon: 1 cup water, 1 cup vinegar, 5 drops grapefruit seed extract, liquid castile soap (just a drop will do), 10 drops lemon essential oil.

Citrus Vinegar Infusion: Fill a large, wide mouth jar with citrus peels (such as lemons, oranges, limes, grapefruits). Cover the peels with vinegar and allow to infuse for four weeks, shaking the jar occasionally. Strain then fill a spray bottle 1/4 full with the vinegar and top the rest with water. Source.

Thyme: 2 1/2 cups water, 1 handful thyme (fresh or dried), vinegar, liquid castile soap (squirt). Directions: Boil water, add thyme. Simmer for several hours over medium-low heat, covered. Cool, then strain. Pour the water into a spray bottle, top with white vinegar and squirt of soap. Use as needed. Source.

Vodka Mix: Liquid dish soap (just a quick squirt), 2 TBS vodka, 10 drops lavender essential oil, 5 drops oregano essential oil, water.

Vinegar: Mix equal parts water and vinegar (or straight vinegar), spray surface.

Tip: You can substitute the essential oils as you like, here are a few that have good disinfectant qualities: cinnamon, clove, eucalyptus, lemon, lavender, peppermint, pine, rosemary, thyme.

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