Tuesday, July 5, 2022

Reusable Cleaning Wipes DIY

Before paper towels, there were cleaning rags. A little history on how paper towels originated - paper towels were created by the Scott Paper Company which manufactured toilet tissues back in the 1930's. I won't go into the lengthy background details, but paper towels came about from an entire railroad car full of toilet tissues rolled too thick for toilet use. After some thought and research, Scott ordered the thick paper perforated into small towel-size sheets and sold them as disposable paper towels.

From that incident, it would take many years before paper towels replaced cloth towels for kitchen use, but they resulted in the creation of a large new grocery category. Given the convenience they brought to the average household, paper towels gained acceptance before replacing cloth towels." Today, it's hard to think of life without paper towels.

Now, we're more conscious of our environment and on a "zero waste" journey to reduce landfill waste and finding ways to create reusable items. Reuse by repurposing and reusing household items and materials. Unfortunately, paper towels are not recyclable. 

But we've come full circle!  One way to help reduce waste is to replace paper towels with homemade t-shirt wipes. With this in mind, I pulled out a few old t-shirts that we were no longer wearing that belonged to me and hubby. T-shirts make some of the best cleaning cloths - 100% cotton, they're lint free and soft - and cost nothing to upcycle and reuse! And they're perfect to make and use for this month's Sustainable Pinterest Challenge hosted by Julie @Sum of Their Stories. This month's theme is Reduce Single Use! 

How to make reusable cleaning wipes: I was inspired by this pin But didn't care for the use of vinegar and chose to use alcohol instead. It's really hard giving up using paper towels. You know they're bad for the environment but having homemade t-shirt wipes comes in quite handy - using them over and over again and then throwing them in the washer to clean and reuse! That helps, bit by bit! So let's get started!


  • 100% cotton t-shirts
  • 1/4 cup  isopropyl (rubbing) alcohol
  • 1 Tablespoon Dawn dishwashing liquid
  • 5 drops essential oil (optional, but makes it smell great)
  • water
  • 16 oz or larger container with lid
To make: Start with a clean container with a top. I found an empty Lysol wipes container in my stash which was perfect to use for this!
Then removed the label and clean away any glue residue.

Next, found a label design on Picmonkey to make and affixed on the container.

Then, mixed up the cleaning solution: by combing 3/4 cup of water and 1/4 cup of rubbing alcohol in the container, adding a tablespoon of Dawn liquid detergent and five drops of essential oil like lavender for a nice smell (if you want). Mix well. Isopropyl alcohol commonly known as rubbing alcohol is extremely useful around the house because it acts as both a solvent and a disinfectant. - plus it's cheap. I've been using plain alcohol full strength on my microfiber sectional for years and it's a powerful disinfectant cleaning product which I love.

 To make the wipes, lay out a clean t-shirt .  .  .

and cut the t-shirt along the side seams and around the arms. 
Then cut off the neck and the bottom, leaving a good size to make into cleaning cloths. 

It's best not to cut them too small, though - 

you'll know what size you like to clean with. I got four good size wipes out of this particular t-shirt.

The sizes vary according to the size of the t-shirts. You don't want to be wasteful in cutting up the shirts.

To put the t-shirt wipes in the container so I could just pull them out when needed, I had to fold and roll them a special way -

Fold the wipe lengthwise. Then fold the end of the very first one over in a triangular shape with the tip hanging down.

 Begin rolling the wipe neatly toward the opposite end.

But before reaching the end, place another wipe with its' end folded in a triangular pointed tip, on top of the first wipe just before the end of the previous one in order to get the dispensing effect.
and continue rolling the wipes.

 Adding more wipes - folded as before - as you roll.

I was able to roll together 18 t-shirt wipes to fit in this container . .  .
Place toll into container with cleaning solution.

Place the top on the container and shake really well - turning the container upside down for a few minutes to help saturate the wipes with the cleaning solution. The wipes should be fully saturated, but not sopping wet. 

 Pour off any excess cleaning solution if needed.
Replace lid.

Use wipes and then wash in laundry and reuse for a variety of household tasks! So let's get started cleaning the green way!

Now, it's time to meet the other participants and their projects!

Julie | Sum of their Stories
Gail | Purple Hues and Me
Julie | Treasures Made From Yarn
Lydia | Life Beyond the Kitchen
Mel | Decor Craft Design
Niki | Life as a LEO Wife
T’onna | Sew Crafty Crochet
Donna | Modern on Monticello

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  1. Great idea, Gail. Thanks for the lesson on folding/rolling them, I never would have figured that out!

  2. This is a brilliant idea, I can't believe you got 18 in that tub too! I love how carefully you folded them so they are easy for the whole family to grab as needed. I think the easier we make it to use a sustainable replacement like this the more likely it is for everyone to get on board with using it.

  3. I never thought of using old t-shirts for cleaning.

  4. This is such a great alternative for paper towels! And thanks for showing how to roll them up so they come out the container perfectly.

  5. What a great idea! I buy cheap washcloths for the same purpose, but there's no reason I couldn't store them in a container with a cleaning solution as you've done. I wonder if I could roll them like you have? Thanks!

  6. Very helpful blog post. I often use cleaning wipes for cleaning around the house, now I will make them myself. The only washing of large windows I always trust this company.


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