When cold & flu season strikes, reach for this simple 3-ingredient homemade disinfectant spray to keep those nasty viruses at bay! All you need for this natural disinfectant are 80-proof vodka, epsom salt & essential oils…
It’s that time of year again — cold & flu season… In case you’ve missed the news, the CDC has predicted that the flu season is going to spike in February this year, which is actually later than usual. So now is the time to really start being diligent about preventing these nasty viruses from making their way into your homes (if you aren’t already).
My kids might call me a little OCD, but we’ve done the whole “passing a virus around multiple times before finally kicking it” thing one too many times in the past. I’m ALL about PREVENTION these days!
But I’m NOT all about using harsh chemicals to do so. We use a number of common sense tactics and a few easy natural tricks (including a surprisingly simple homemade disinfectant spray!) to stay ahead of the cold & flu season. They’ve been remarkably effective, even with our larger than average household.
Natural Cold & Flu Prevention Strategies
Want to save money and take control of your health this cold and flu season? Getting back to basics with these tips will give you a strong starting point.
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1| Exercise regularly
Studies show that staying active can cut the risk of contracting a cold by 50%. And if you do come down with the sniffles? Typically the severity of your symptoms is far less.
It’s well known that exercise is very effective at improving your immune system, so treating exercise like a prescription is great motivation to squeeze in a daily workout.
2| Get enough sleep
Daily fatigue takes its toll on our bodies in a number of ways, not the least of which is an impaired ability to fight off an attacking virus. So many of us are fanatical about ensuring that our kids get enough rest every night, but we’re not so zealous about our own bedtimes.
Believe me — it’s a daily struggle for me, as well. I’m naturally a night owl, but I’ve slowly been trying to reset my internal clock towards an earlier bedtime. Diffusing lavender essential oil at bedtime has been an effective way to indicate to my body that it’s time to wind down for the night, and I really feel like I sleep more deeply when using it.
3| Take a vitamin D supplement
Are you surprised that I said vitamin D and not vitamin C? It turns out that vitamin C provides minimal extra protection against contracting cold and flu. But vitamin D, on the other hand, has been shown to contain an effective antimicrobial agent capable of killing bacteria, viruses, and fungi.
Vitamin D is not naturally present in many foods. Our biggest source is through natural exposure to sunlight, but during the gray and gloomy days of winter, we’re probably not producing an optimal supply. So adding this supplement with an immune booster healthy citrus smoothie each morning could help ward off cold and flu viruses.
I’ve used both these soft gels and these liquid drops, the latter of which I add to my morning bulletproof coffee. You could easily add the drops to smoothies, too, and they’re totally flavorless.
4| Encourage frequent hand washing
A no brainer, yes, but washing your hands well and often is one of the most effective ways to prevent the spread of cold and flu. And skip the antibacterial hand soap! It’s completely ineffective against these viruses. A good scrub down with a gentle non-toxic hand soap is sufficient.
By the way, it’s estimated that up to 95% of American don’t wash their hands properly. It takes 20 seconds of vigorous scrubbing with soap to wipe out germs.
5| Disinfect Your Home Naturally
For years I disinfected my home with this simple homemade Clorox Anywhere recipe. (I can hardly believe I wrote that post almost 12 years ago!) But as I’ve learned about the power of essential oils and turned to using more toxin-free and homemade cleaning products over the past few years, I’ve discovered a homemade disinfectant solution that I love even more…
It starts with, wait for it… VODKA! In fact, I use vodka over vinegar in many of my homemade cleaners. It’s virtually odorless, while still having effective natural disinfectant properties, and it’s actually very inexpensive. You don’t need top-shelf vodka — just pick up the cheapest bottle of 80-proof vodka you can find!
UPDATE March 2020: In light of the current situation, I want to quickly update this post to reflect the CDC’s recommendations for disinfecting in regards to the spreading virus. The CDC recommends disinfectants contain a minimum of 60% alcohol, so the everyday formula I shared here does not meet these standards. You will want to upgrade your vodka to one that’s at least 120-proof. Everclear is also an excellent odorless option that contains a high alcohol content.
How To Make Homemade Disinfectant Spray
Making your own natural disinfectant spray is really super simple. I don’t even measure the ingredients — I just eyeball everything! Straight-up vodka is the base, and then you can choose from several combinations of essential oils to boost the effectiveness. Finally, add a pinch of epsom salt to keep everything mixed together.
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Natural Disinfectant Essential Oil Combos
Vodka is pretty darn good at disinfecting on its own, but a pleasantly-scented spray is way more likely to be used in my household. So I add various essential oils to my DIY disinfectant spray for both aroma and added disinfecting properties.
Here are a few disinfecting essential oil combinations I recommend:
- peppermint + tea tree
- lemongrass + lavender
- lavender + rosemary
- geranium + lime
- grapefruit + lemon + lavender
- tea tree + orange
While all of these essential oils have natural disinfectant properties, tea tree oil (also known as melaleuca alternifolia) is especially high in antifungal and antiseptic properties. Because of this, I chose to include it in my homemade cold and flu season disinfectant.
However, it does have a strong medicinal scent, so I actually paired it with two other oils — peppermint and orange. If you’d like to use the same combination, I found this 5-bottle essential oils set which includes all three essential oils I used, plus lavender and eucalyptus!
Ugh, I still came down with a nasty cold or flu!
So what do you do when you STILL come down with a nasty cold or the flu? Well, to be honest, it happens — unfortunately, no preventative strategy is a hundred percent effective.
Make yourself a big batch of homemade chicken soup, add some fresh or ground ginger to your immune booster healthy citrus smoothie, and drink plenty of hot tea with honey, while taking comfort in knowing your symptoms are probably less severe because you’ve been exercising regularly, ahem.
Best Homemade Glass Cleaner
If you like this homemade disinfectant spray, I think you’ll also adore my favorite homemade glass cleaner. It’s truly the best dang homemade glass cleaner you will try — easy, streak free & non-toxic!
I’d love to see your homemade disinfectant spray in use… Tag me @Unsophisticook on Instagram or use the hashtag #Unsophisticook so I can check it out. Enjoy!
Wednesday 11th of March 2020
Using Vodka in general won't work. Normal vodka is 80 proof which is 40% alcohol. Per CDC to kill viruses, flu etc - you need 60% or higher alcohol level. (not proof).
Thursday 5th of April 2018
Could you use everclear instead of vodka?
Tara @ Unsophisticook
Thursday 5th of April 2018
Hi Shannon! Yes, you could use Everclear if you want.