Reusable Disinfectant Wipes for your Purse or Diaper Bag

Homemade reusable disinfectant cloth wipes for your purse or diaper bag

A while back, I decided I needed to keep some wet wipes in my purse.

I’ve slowly been replacing all disposable paper products in my home with cloth. We use cloth napkins, cloth toilet paper, and cloth feminine hygiene products. (Well, I use them as backup with my fabulous Diva Cup). I used cloth diapers and wipes on Lydia when she was a babe.

So of course it only make sense that I would carry cloth wet wipes with me now.

I’ve never used commercial disposable wipes because I find them incredibly smelly and gross (not to mention toxic). I took cloth wipes with me in Lydia’s diaper bag back when we used diapers (though I rarely needed them since we practiced elimination communication). But I don’t take a diaper bag with me now (hooray for EC!), and I find that I still often need a damp cloth when I’m out and about with my two-year-old.

Several months ago I had the brilliant idea to just pack a few cloth wipes in a small Tupperware container, dampened with some water and liquid soap. I used them once to wipe down her sticky hands while at the park, and then kept them in my purse for a week or two. I was going to tell you all about my brilliant idea until I took them out and took a whiff.


The stench emanating from that Tupperware container was worse than Death. I think it may have been the smell of Greed or Lust. I couldn’t believe what I had done. I threw the rags into the garbage, tied the bag tight, and took it outside. I soaked the container overnight in vinegar, then baking soda, then vinegar again, and then contemplated throwing it out because it still reeked.

Let me just say: it does NOT work to keep sealed wet cloths in a container with just soap and water. DO NOT TRY IT.

After that fiasco, I went online and searched for a proper recipe for antibacterial cloth wipes.

I came across this recipe/tutorial for Homemade Natural Cleaning Wipes that Disinfect, which used vinegar and essential oils. I luckily had all the essential oils already on hand, so I immediately gave it a try.

Since I wanted just a small container that was easily transportable, I had to adapt the recipe for a much smaller batch.

I’ve been using these wipes for months and am very happy with them. They have a pretty strong (clean) scent, but at least it’s not a toxic one.

Remember that if you carry reusable cloths, you’ll need something to put them in when you’re done with them, so you can take them home and wash them. I keep a small “wet bag” in my purse (i.e. a waterproof bag, typically used for storing used cloth diapers), along with an extra pair of pants in case Lydia has an accident. (She is barely two, after all.) I can just slip a used cloth into the wet bag to launder later.

One cloth goes a lot further than a paper wipe, so you don’t need to carry as many.


1/4 cup vinegar

1/4 cup water

5 drops lemon essential oil

3 drops lavender essential oil

1 drop bergamot essential oil

*I’m guessing you could play around with the essential oils, omitting one or two, but since I had them all, I use them all.


Stuff about 4 small cloths into an airtight plastic container. (For the cloths, I use old baby washcloths. I would recommend darker cloths, since they tend to get stained. Old cut-up t-shirts would be perfect. For the container, I use a small, flat, thrifted Tupperware container.)

making homemade wet cloth wipes

Mix the liquid ingredients together in a measuring cup and pour onto the cloths.

making homemade cloth wipes

Seal container, shake it up a little, and stuff it into your purse, along with a reusable wet bag for storing used cloths. (I found a really small bag at a lingerie store, meant for storing wet bathing suits. Perfect!)

homemade cloth wipes for purse

reusable cloth wipes for purse

To Use:

Remove a cloth and wring it out slightly if necessary. After use, put in wet bag. It can stay in there for a while until the rest have been used up, but you probably want to rinse or machine wash it as soon as possible. Cloths can be washed and reused indefinitely.

Easy peasy. They clean effectively, leave a nice clean smell, and best of all, DON’T GET STINKY.

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  1. So far I just carry some t-shirt scraps (which are what I use for cloth wipes) and just wet them as necessary from my water bottle/glass at a restaurant/bathroom sink, but that’s partially because I never trust these internet recipes not to turn out disastrous once left in a car in the sun once or twice or for an entire month. ;-) But this looks like a good option for future use!

    • Lol — sounds like you’ve got it covered. :) I guess I USUALLY have water on hand to moisten cloths if necessary; I just like to be prepared in case I don’t.

      • It’s true that the only times you desperately need a wet cloth are the times the water bottle is empty and you’re nowhere near a sink. ;-)

  2. Okay so I almost never carry a purse and rarely remember wipes these days but when I do…I like to make up my spray (similar but less vinegar and a bit of oil (argan, almond, or whatev) and keep it in a little glass spray bottle. Then I just give the dry wipe a spray when I need it.
    Marissa@BecomingKindred recently posted..31 Days of Nature Walks-PuddlesMy Profile

  3. I think I came across the same tutorial as you! I don’t actually own any essential oils besides tea tree, so I just used that and vinegar and water, and it’s become my replacement for disposable disinfectant wipes.

    So on the subject of wipes, and the fact that storing them with soap makes them stink – yes! I’ve been trying to do pre-moistened cloth wipes for diapering, but the smell really is off-putting – and I’m only using 1/4 tsp of soap (plus 1/2 tsp baby oil, in 1.5 cups water). Any suggestions for a different combo? I don’t really want to use vinegar for this…
    That Married Couple recently posted..Intentionality meets naptimeMy Profile

    • Hmm, not sure. Besides vinegar, the only thing I can think of that might help would be essential oils. Would you consider trying lavender? It’s supposed to be antibacterial as well, and the smell is a little more pleasant than tea tree. Plus, it’s fairly inexpensive and easy to find.


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