On-the-go cleaning and Zero Waste living are seemingly at odds. After all, you can’t exactly pack a giant spray bottle and an arsenal of rags everywhere you go, and the alternatives aren’t great: disposable wipes in plastic packaging and containers. Even most “eco-friendly” cleaning wipes come with a side of harsh chemicals and lots and lots of plastic, but messes don’t wait for you to get home! I’m constantly spilling things, my kids make messes in the car, and there are times you just need to wipe things down, whether you’re at work, the gym, or the playground. So what’s the solution?
Make your own, of course. I can’t believe I didn’t think of this sooner. I repurposed a travel baby wipe container similar to these (if you've ever had a baby you probably have something similar), some bamboo “unpaper” towels, and a couple of my go-to cleaning recipes to make portable (and washable/resuable) wipes for when I’m on the go. You can learn more about my favorite all-purpose cleaning recipes and get more information about the ingredients used in this post.
The basic idea is simple: Soak the bamboo towels in your cleaning solution for a few minutes. Wring out the excess moisture, and then tuck them into your baby-wipe container to easily toss into your purse, gym bag, or diaper bag. (If you have a baby, remember not to mix them up with your baby wipes).
Below you’ll find recipes for gentle surface wipes, heavier duty surface wipes, and for hand/face wipes. The gentle wipes are great for wiping down toys and surfaces kids are touching a lot, and the slightly heavier duty wipes are great for wiping down your space at work, at the gym, and places like that.
Also, I do not make these in a huge batch. Because they do not contain a preservative like most conventional cleaners, you’ll want to use them up in about a week. Start with 10-15 wipes and see how quickly you go through them and then base future batches off of that (it also depends on the size of your container). You could also add a small amount of preservative like Optiphen Plus, but I prefer to just make mine fresh each week while I’m doing my laundry routine.
As always, I encourage you to buy the raw ingredients in as large a quantity as you can use to cut down on waste and then reuse or refill any containers. For example, I bought our castile soap by the gallon initially and then I refill our jug during our big bulk shopping trip so I don't have to buy another container.
For the Gentle Surface Wipes:
6 Bamboo “unpaper” towels cut in half (makes 12 half-sheet size towels)
2 Cups Water Boiled & Cooled
1.5 TBS Castile Soap
10 drops essential oil (optional. I often leave these out for wipes when I know I will be using them in a public place out of courtesy to those who may be sensitive to smells).
A Baby Wipe Container
For the Heavier Duty Wipes (These should only be used for wiping surfaces and not for wiping faces and hands).
For the Hand/Face Wipes:
1. For whichever recipe (or recipes) you decide to make, first, cut your bamboo towels in half so they will fit in your baby wipe container better. This is also a great way to use bamboo towels that have had a few trips through the washing machine.
2. Next, simply add your ingredients to a mixing bowl and stir them together.
3. Add your bamboo towels and allow them to soak for a couple of minutes until they are saturated with the cleaning solution
4. Wring the excess moisture out of the towels, then fold them in half and pack them into your baby wipe container. If you have excess cleaning solution, you can always add it to your spray bottle or grab a rag, sponge, or mop and use it for some light housework right away.
5. Your wipes are ready to use!
Please note that these are not “disinfecting” wipes in the same way that Lysol wipes and similar products are...so they’re not necessarily going to kill every virus or bacteria they come in contact with. That said, they're good for giving things (or children in the case of the hand/face wipes) a good wipe down.
Once the towels are used, you can keep a small bag in your purse, gym bag, diaper bag, car, office drawer, etc… to hold the used wipes and then take them home to wash for next time!