Don’t Go Out for Cleaning Supplies; Check Your Shelves for Homemade Cleaner Ingredients

If you are quarantined and running out of household cleaning supplies, or your Myrtle Beach grocery store is already sold-out, it’s easy to make simple cleaners at home. The coronavirus pandemic has led to major shortages of home health and cleaning supplies (good luck finding toilet paper!). However, you may likely have just what you need to sanitize and disinfect already in your kitchen and laundry cabinets.

A photo of a homemade cleaner that is a simple vinegar and water solution.

Sanitizing vs. Disinfecting: They Aren’t the Same Thing

First, it’s important to stress the difference between sanitizing and disinfecting. They are not synonyms.

Sanitizing reduces the number of germs on a surface. The world is experiencing a hand sanitizer shortage, but that packaged solution is likely just isopropyl alcohol with aloe and fragrance. It does a good job of removing some germs, but it isn’t fool-proof.

Disinfecting is the killing of the majority of germs and bacteria. Disinfectants destroy microorganisms to a large degree, but there are always some resistant bacteria. This is why most of your disinfectant cleaners and wipes will say something like “kills 99.9% of all germs.”

Remember: hand sanitizer and disinfectant alone won’t protect you from COVID-19. Please follow all quarantine and distancing recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and SCDHEC websites.

The Big 3: Vinegar, Baking Soda, and Bleach (and Essential Oils if You’re Fancy)

Vinegar: You can cook with it and you can clean with it. This is a wonderful all-purpose sanitizer. Distilled white vinegar diluted with some water is great for kitchens and bathrooms, glass and mirrors. You can also add it to the wash or coffee maker to clean out lingering odors. Don’t use vinegar with wood, marble, or granite as it can damage those surfaces. Don’t use vinegar for carpet stains because it will very quickly lead to a noticeable discoloration.

Baking Soda: Another kitchen staple that works wonders as a cleaner. Baking soda is awesome at lifting up stains or working as a light abrasive for stuck-on dirt and grime. Sprinkle some baking soda on your vinegar-based cleaner and let the chemical reaction work on some tough areas around sinks or on glass stovetops. Plus, if you run out of toothpaste, it’s a great substitute.

Bleach: This is your disinfectant. Where simple sanitizing isn’t enough, use chlorine bleach to kill bacteria. It may not be the most environmentally-friendly option next to vinegar and baking soda, but this is your best best if you are looking to destroy germs. Use to disinfect a room where someone has been sick or to kill bacteria from a surface that raw meat has touched. Most household cleaning recommendations suggest 1/3 cup of bleach per gallon of water. A little goes a long way.

Essential Oils: They don’t sanitize or disinfect, but they can add a pleasant fragrance to any homemade cleaner. You can also add orange or lemon pith to your vinegar cleaner for a clean citrus smell.

For more information about sanitizing and disinfecting during the COVID-19 virus, please see the CDC recommendations.