I recently got a loooooot of mixed feedback on a Facebook post that did not go unnoticed. It was about one of our favorite sponsors, Handzies. While many were in the “we love them too” camp, there were plenty of other commenters that were appalled we’d do anything other than make our own homemade hand wipes!
So today, I’m excited to have Karen Trenk, the owner of Handzies, share how to do just that. In fact, making them herself is exactly how she started her very own hand wipe company! And it’s a fun way to customize them so that they are perfect for your family. We even created a handy DIY printable guide for you.
While it would, of course, be ideal to always wash with soap and water when you need a little cleanup, you never know when you just can’t. We’ve all been there when it comes to having to stop in an icky porta potty or gas station bathroom—or not even having access to a sink at all (or a sink that actually has soap!). And conventional alcohol-based hand sanitizers can be harsh on our skin. So, while I’ll still probably always have a stash of Handzies in my purse, I thought it would be fun to learn to make my own. It’s not hard to do!
How to Make Your Own Hand Cleansing Wipes
by Karen Trenk, the owner of Handzies
Years ago, after our whole family got taken out by a horrible stomach bug, I was on a mission to make sure we cleaned up more to try to avoid getting sick again. With a busy family on the go, one of our biggest challenges was finding a way to get cleaned up while we were out and about. We all hated the goopy alcohol hand sanitizers, and there was no way that my kids would consider using baby wipes.
We really just wanted a way to get squeaky clean like we could at the sink…but on the go! After searching and finding no solutions, I decided just to make my own wipes. After much trial and error in my kitchen, I came up with a formula that worked for us. Friends and family found out about them and were forever asking me for “one of those wipes.” It seemed we weren’t the only ones who wanted a simple, natural way to get cleaned up on the go. :) Now our proprietary formula is produced at a commercial wipes facility in California, and Handzies are available for everyone!
But here’s how to make your own…
Supplies Needed for Homemade Wipes
- Dry Wipes
You can order dry wipes online—I like to use something that is biodegradable and compostable. Be sure to look at quantities; you can get an even better deal by buying a larger quantity, so shop around or go in together with a friend and buy in bulk. You could also use small washcloths and then just wash them after each use.
- Essential Oils
I usually use two: Tea Tree Oil, which is naturally antibacterial, anti-fungal, and great for skin, and Orange/Tangerine Oil, mostly for the smell. This one seems to be liked by adults and kids, and the citrus scent gives the wipes a fresh, clean aroma.
- Distilled water (or just boil some water)
Since the wipes won’t have any preservative, it’s important to keep them as “clean” as possible to reduce the amount of contamination.
- Liquid Soap
This is a vital ingredient. I used to think that the soap was what killed the germs on my hands, but it actually works in a different way. The soap helps break the surface tension of the water, allowing it to get between your skin and the impurities to help remove them. That’s why many doctors don’t actually recommend antibacterial soaps—plain soap works just as well. I like to use Castile soap because it’s made with olive oil, is super gentle on the skin (and I have a kid prone to eczema), and doesn’t foam up like many other soaps and leave a residue on your skin (don’t use something like dish soap as it will foam up a lot and leave a sticky/tacky residue on your skin). Make sure your soap is unscented so the scent won’t interfere with the essential oils you’ve picked.
- An Airtight Container
To store the wipes in, such as a Tupperware container or zip-top bag.
- Measuring Cup and Spoon
Directions for Homemade Wipes
- Wash your hands or put on gloves to help reduce the amount of contamination in the wipes.
- Place the dry wipes into the container. For this batch, I’m using a bundle of 50 wipes (10 x 13). I like to use a Tupperware type container with a tight lid to keep them as fresh as possible.
- Making the liquid formula that goes on the wipes is where you can really customize these to your needs. I’ll share my basic formula, but you can easily change this. In the measuring cup, add 10 to 12 oz water, 2 to 3 drops of tea tree oil, 3 to 4 drops Orange Oil, and 1/4 teaspoon Castile Soap. Stir vigorously to mix.
- Pour a small amount of the liquid over the wipes. Then, start “cutting the deck” by picking up a section of your stack of wipes and turning it over and pouring some more liquid on them. Once you’ve poured it all on, take both fists and press down on the top to help the liquid soak into your stack. You can also pick up sections and twist/wring them to help the liquid soak in. Keep rotating through the stack till you feel like the liquid is distributed throughout.
- Homemade wipes do not have preservatives in them, so depending on how they are stored, they will last about 2 to 3 weeks. Essential oils are sensitive to heat and light, so I like to store them in an airtight container in my refrigerator and then take out what I need and put in ziplock bags or reusable baggies. Periodically, you should turn your container upside down or turn the wipes over so that all of the solution doesn’t settle to the bottom.
How to Customize Homemade Wipes
- Change up how much liquid you use to make them more/less wet. Some people like them super wet and some like them just barely moist. So feel free to try out different amounts of liquid and see what works for you.
- Change the size of the wipes by cutting them in half or quarters.
Change up the essential oils. This is the most fun way to play around, but be careful what you mix together as the oils often have a strong scent on their own, and when mixed together they sometimes don’t work out. We once mixed up something that my daughter said smelled like a “wet dog”—not good! You can also use one of the blends offered by the popular essential oil providers for things like germ-fighting, calming, energizing, etc. Here are some of my favorite customizations:
- Lemon Oil – Great for adding a fresh scent.
- Lavender Oil – Great scent, also germ-fighting and relaxing at the same time.
- Cinnamon, Clove, Rosemary, Thyme – These are more germ-fighting essential oils, but they have a pretty strong smell so be careful what you mix them with.
- Germ Fighter Oil – This a popular blend offered by many essential oil providers. I like to use this one when I know something is going around at our school (like the stomach bug or strep). It usually has a pretty strong scent, and my kids didn’t like it as much when they were younger; now they don’t seem to mind as much.
- Calendula oil – It has antifungal, anti-inflammatory, and antibacterial properties that might make it useful in healing wounds and/or soothing eczema.
I let my kids pick the essential oil they wanted to use for their batch. After they got to make them, they were super excited to start using them. I got some help with the project, and they were a lot cleaner…win/win! Just be prepared, once you hand a few of these out to friends and family they will constantly be asking you for “one of your wipes.” :)
The Best Store-Bought Natural Alcohol-Free Wipes
If you’re reading this and thinking, “This sounds fun and all, but I just don’t have the time or desire to make my own,” you are in luck! That’s exactly why Hanzies was created. Handzies wipes are free of chemicals, made with natural ingredients, and individually packaged—perfect for travel, school lunches, cleaning hands/tables at restaurants, kids sports activities, or anytime you are on-the-go. They’re also biodegradable and compostable, and now have a waste-free option in pop-up canisters (not pictured).
Either way, whether you try your hand at making your own homemade wipes or purchase Handzies, you’ll be avoiding the alcohol and unwanted chemicals in conventional wipes. Let us know what you think!