DIY Disinfectant Spray with Tea Tree & Lemongrass - Dr. Axe

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DIY Disinfectant Spray with Tea Tree & Lemongrass


DIY disinfectant - Dr. Axe

With the kids back in school and cold and flu season in high-gear, disinfecting the home may be in order. Disinfecting is different from cleaning because disinfectants kill bacteria so that it is unable to reproduce. Cleaning pretty much just moves it around the surface, but does not actually kill bacteria that may be present.

It is not uncommon for bleach to be used as a disinfectant. However, bleach can be very dangerous and I don’t recommend it. In fact, one of the best reasons to make your own DIY disinfectant spray is that the amount of chemicals found in most off- the-shelf cleaners is very high and can be dangerous. (1)

Check out my recipe below to make your own homemade disinfectant spray — which includes two antibacterial essential oils. This recipe is easy and can leave your home fresh and bacteria-free.

DIY Disinfectant


Makes 16 ounces

  • 2/3 cup high-proof vodka
  • 1/2 cup white distilled vinegar
  • 3/4 cup distilled water
  • 30–40 drops tea tree essential oil
  • 30–40 drops lemongrass essential oil
  • 16-ounce spray bottle


Make sure you use a clean spray bottle. It should not have any bleach or other product residue. A new bottle may be the best way to go, but regardless, just make sure it is clean. Pour the vodka, vinegar and water into the bottle. Vodka is a great disinfectant. Just use the cheap stuff.  While vodka does not kill bacteria, it helps clean surfaces and it works to eliminate odors. Vinegar is next up and is a great option since it can help remove dirt and grime. Next, add the distilled water. Using distilled water is important because it is bacteria-free. (2)

Now, let’s add the essential oils. But what essential oils are good for disinfecting? Tea tree essential oil is my favorite since it is antibacterial. Tea tree oil has shown effective wound-healing properties due to its ability to fight infection that can be caused from bacteria. That is why it is a great option for your DIY disinfectant spray. (3)

Lemongrass is known for its antibacterial qualities too. Studies have shown that it is effective at fighting methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus Aureus (MRSA) skin infections. This makes it a good choice for getting rid of bacteria that may be living on your kitchen countertops too. (4)

Now that everything has been placed in the bottle, simple screw the cap on and shake well. It’s important to clean the area first (you may even want to try making my homemade household cleaner) so that you remove any visible waste particles. Next, rinse the area and dry it. Then apply the homemade disinfectant spray. Shake well before each use.

DIY Disinfectant Spray with Tea Tree & Lemongrass

Total Time: 5 minutes


  • 2/3 cup high-proof vodka
  • 1/2 cup white distilled vinegar
  • 3/4 cup distilled water
  • 30–40 drops tea tree essential oil
  • 30–40 drops lemongrass essential oil
  • 16-ounce spray bottle


  1. Pour all ingredients into a clean 16-ounce spray bottle.
  2. Place the cap tightly on the bottle and shake well.
  3. Shake well before each use.

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  1. Mary Martinez on

    Am going to make this and use it. I will let you know how it works.

    I have used it directly on the outside of my throat in the neck area and behind the ears for sore throat and earaches and the next day am fine.

    Also with qtips on swollen gums ..just very little…and kills infections.
    But please don’t recommend unless you consult your doctor’s. We use Melaleuca oil in our home for sore muscles, bits, even aches and pains. Thank you for the added info. Hope you don’t mind me using all your recipes.

  2. Lilly Rahmann on

    Many peoples had been allergy with lemongrass oil too
    It seem this oil could make it worse for sensitive allergies persons
    And some children will also developing hive too

  3. Ann Marie Marczak on

    Use of Oregano, in the disinfectant spray also works with Tea Tree (Melaleuca,) essential oils. It also will make cleaning the yellow stains off the toilet seats without the use of the harsh chemicals used in toilet cleaning.

  4. Barbara Hathaway on

    Please inform your students and customers about the toxicity of some essential oils to pets!!
    Cats are missing an enzyme in their liver that can remove the oils from their systems! Dogs can be subject to toxicity as well as birds. Two right off the bat are believe it or not, Lavender and Tea Tree! Please check out various info on essential oil toxicity and pets.
    This recipe rocks for cleaning BTW!
    I just can’t use it near my cat. That means on the floor walls or in the laundry.

  5. Janice on

    Is this safe to use on hardwood floors? With my little one crawling on the floors, I’d like a way to really clean my floors ( we do remove our shoes upon entering the house to help).

  6. Deborah Adams on

    I’m getting stressed, I have OCD around germs and I don’t know when to clean and when to disinfect, I would love to have one product

    • Tara on

      I COMPLETELY understand what you’re going through. I also suffer from OCD & need to be certain germs are GONE! You CAN use just ONE product to perform both tasks! I highly recommend using “Seventh Generation Lemongrass Citrus Disinfecting 
      Wipes” according to the EPA they are a botanical disinfectant that is listed with bleach for effectiveness at killing germs. If you suffer from OCD & germs are an issue for you then this one quick solution is probably best for you. You wipe & walk away. That’s it. They also carry an aerosol spray for things like door knobs & light switches etc. (Like Lysol but without the chemicals!) Target carries these products. I will warn you they dont smell very good but that is because the main disinfecting ingredient is Thymol which is from Thyme Oil. If you know the oil you will know it isn’t a great smell. But all that matters to me is that it works! So well so that you can wipe a child’s high chair & not have to rinse it! They’re that safe! (They also make a spray cleaner & disinfectant in one!) I hope I’ve helped you a bit.

    • maggielynne on

      No….you shouldn’t use acidic cleaner on granite. There is a recipe online for a cleaner using rubbing alcohol. That recipe works for cleaning and shine, but not sure about disenfecting.

  7. bonnie on

    I would really like to try the disinfectant minus vodka. Thanks for the valuable information regarding strep strain. Bleach is still being used by hospitals and it doesn’t really kill this germ because many people go home only to discover they brought something with them.

  8. Chaslady on

    This says ‘vodka is a great disinfectant’, but then in the same paragraph says ‘vodka does not kill bacteria’— which is it?

    • Tess on

      Vodka does NOT kill bacteria, so not sure why it’s even included. I make my own cleaner using white vinegar and essential oils and use the vodka for drinking!

      • Cheryl on

        Vodka is a great cleaner and odor eliminator the disinfectant is your essential oils that’s what they’re saying. They are also saying put your essential oils into your vodka before you add the water so it doesn’t separate

    • Carol on

      I’ve read that the vodka is needed for the spray because oil and water don’t mix. Adding a little alcohol fixes that. It disperses the oil and also helps the scent of the essential oil last longer in the air

  9. Angela on

    I would recommend doing the steps differently in your recipe. Because essential oils are oils, they aren’t soluble in water. If you’d like not to have them layer in the mix, its best to add them to the vodka first and shake or stir until dissolved. Then add the rest of the ingredients. Also, thyme (thymol) and eucalyptus (eucalyptol) are excellent choices as well. This has some specific info on thymol.

  10. Mahalla moroni on

    God bless you Dr.axe and your friend you both a such of blessing for many people.I tried to order some essential oil on your website but it’s hard .when it’s time to pay it saying pay pal I don’t pay pay pal .I pay debit card .


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