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No Soap and Water? Try These Alternative Disinfectants

alternative disinfectants
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Find yourself without access to soap or water, or both? No hydrogen peroxide or alcohol based sanitizer? Have a cut you need to clean? You may have more options than you think. In this post, we will take a look at some alternative disinfectants. Some are products you may already have (or can buy), while others may involve a little DIY preparation. Feel free to share your own alternative disinfectants in the comments below the post.


It will sting, but vodka can indeed be used as a disinfectant. In general, the higher the alcohol percentage (the proof) the better. Avoid flavored vodkas and vodka based drinks, however. Best used to clean the area around a cut — if it is put directly on the wound, it can dry out the tissue and slow healing. This is true with regular rubbing alcohol as well.

Diluted tea tree oil

Tea tree oil can be used as a disinfectant if it is diluted. This requires that you have some water on hand, so it may not be practical given the title of the article, but if water is available, 10 parts water to 1 part tea tree oil is a good ratio. Alternatively, you may purchase tea tree oil that is already diluted. You should put a bit of tea tree oil on your skin before using on a wound to make sure that you don’t have an allergy.

Bodily fluids?

Urine and saliva are often referenced as possible disinfectants. However, there is not concrete scientific evidence that either can be used to effectively disinfect a wound. That said, there are some antibacterial agents in saliva and urine also has the presence of ammonia, which can have disinfectant properties. Both of these should be considered as a last resort, and you may want to avoid the urine bit altogether. While urine is sterile in the body, it quickly undergoes chemical reactions that promote bacterial growth once it hits the air. “Licking your wound” may help you remove dirt and other contaminants, however, and may help prevent infection.

Make your own homemade disinfectant

Ok, this tip once again belies the title (it requires water), but it is fairly straightforward. Take a regular 8 oz. glass and fill it with bottled water (or other sterilized water) to about the 3/4 mark. Add in a tablespoon of salt and a tablespoon of vinegar (regular white vinegar should do the trick. Lemon juice is also a viable alternative). Mix the solution until the salt has dissolved, and you have your own homemade disinfectant.

Have any of your own tips when it comes to alternative disinfectants? Let us know in the comments. It’s important to remember of course, that if you have a serious wound and you are without proper treatment materials, you need to seek medical attention as soon as possible.

Photo credit: flickr user Mr. Tickle

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