Thursday, March 31, 2011

Make Your Own Cleaning Wipes

I love cleaning wipes. They are so handy and I really like using the disinfectant ones, especially during cold and flu season; on my computer keyboard, phones and door knobs. They are not always the most economical way to clean; naturally it’s cheaper and greener to use a cloth that can be washed and reused, but sometimes when you have a really tough cleaning job, you just want to think disposable. Cleaning wipes have become hugely popular, and some people keep a container of them in every room. They’re pretty nice for a quick, easy cleanup. But they can be expensive. So here’s how you can make your own, and take away some of that guilt.

First you need a roll of paper towels and a container. For best results, select an extra-large roll of good quality paper towels for this project. Less-expensive towels fray or shred when pulled through the holder; thicker quilted towels have greater cleaning strength and withstand more scrubbing. Even at $1.39 per roll, cost for homemade wipes will be less than 75 cents, not including the storage container.

If you have an empty wipes container, that is perfect. Look around your house for other containers that can be used. Some people even use a new Rubbermaid or Tupperware Container with a hold drilled in the lid. I used an empty powdered drink mix container which was a large round plastic jar with a lid; it isn’t that important for me to be able to pull them thru the lid and I think they will stay “damp” longer if they have a lid. I’ve seen empty ice cream cartons (plastic) used as well as plastic coffee containers and large pickle jars. It doesn’t matter what you use as long as it works.
You are going to use a roll of paper towels, cut in half to make 2 shorter rolls. I like the Bounty towels that can be used as actually a half a sheet of paper towel instead of a full one. So – for example, when you cut the roll in half it will be 5½”high and each towel will be 6”wide. If your towels are full sheets instead of half, that will still work, you’ll just use more.

Depending on the size of your roll of paper towels, and the size of the container you are using, a full roll may be too big. That’s okay too. Just remove some of the towels from the roll and use for another use, or use a half-used roll that fits your container.

First, cut your roll of paper towels in half. Use a serrated knife or electric knife if you have one. A fine-toothed hack saw blade will also work. It takes a few minutes to saw thru it but when you finish you will have 2 halves, one for this time and one for next. Don’t get discouraged.

You can now remove the cardboard tube from the center of the towels and thus your wipes will feed from the center out. If you have a hard time removing the tube, go ahead and pour the cleaning solution over the towels in the container and let it saturate then remove the tube and start the towels feeding from the center. I cut the inner tube with scissors when it was dry and thought it was easier to get out dry but many people like to wait till it is wet and remove it in pieces, your choice.

You can use any cleaning solution you like; a window cleaner, vinegar and water solution, the large bottles of 409 type stuff. I personally like the cleaning fluid I buy from Don Aslett called “Organic Orange Soil Master” which can be purchased at any of his cleaning outlets. If you don’t live near one, you can go to any cleaning product outlet and buy your favorite in bulk. This one is mixed 1 part cleaning solution to 20 parts water for cleaning counter tops etc. Whatever cleaner you normally like you can use. It can be very economical to make your own.

Pour your favorite cleaning solution over the towels to saturate. This takes less than you think it will. When it’s wet, you can now take out the inner cardboard tube if you have not done so already. If, occasionally, your wipes dry out a bit, just pour a bit more cleaning solution in as necessary. Allow wipes to stand overnight before continuing to use them after adding more solution.

If you use ½ of a roll of paper towels and about 1-2 cups cleaning solution, (start with ½ cup) your cost will be 50-75 cents per container. Some people even make their own baby wipes; of course the cleaning solution is different for those cute baby-bums. I’ve added are recipe just for fun.

Here are some recipes for homemade cleaning solutions for your wipes. They make 2-3 cups per batch so adjust the amounts as you want. Mix the solutions before pouring over towels. You may vary the strength of the cleaning solutions as necessary for your household, using more cleaning agents for a stronger wipe, less solution and more water for a milder product. If you have a favorite cleaning solution, try that one too.

All-purpose cleaning:
1½ c. white vinegar
1½ c. water

Disinfectant Cleaning:
¼ to ½ c. pine cleaning solution such as Pine-Sol brand
2 ½ to 2 ¾ c. water

Window and Glass Cleaning:
½ c. rubbing (isopropyl) alcohol
2½ c. water
1 T. white vinegar
Place the lid on the plastic food storage container, and allow paper towels to absorb cleaning solution for 4 hours to overnight.

Baby Wipes Wash Recipe
2 T. Baby Wash
2 T. Olive Oil or 1 TBSP Calendula Oil
2 Drops Tea Tree Oil (Optional)
2 c. warm water
Mix well; swish solution around over wipes if using a wipes box or bottle. Tea Tree Oil is optional but has lovely disinfectant properties along with its wonderful, clean smell.

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