If you can’t buy ’em, we’ll tell you how to make ’em

August 5, 2020

Wendy Parker


Monday’s announcement from Clorox CEO Benno Dorer that the brand’s popular sanitizing wipes won’t be fully available on retail shelves until early 2021 isn’t likely to catch truck drivers by surprise.

The inability to find wipes has been one of the most common complaints from drivers striving to keep their environment as clean and safe as possible since the COVID-19 outbreak. They cannot find adequate supplies of disposable sanitizing wipes. Many have found accessing any kind of cleaning product to be difficult in the past few months.

It’s hard enough to find these products when you have a normal-sized vehicle, the problem is definitely compounded for commercial drivers. Regional supply shortages of cleaning products at Walmart, Target, and other retailers with truck-accessible parking leave drivers with no choice but to do what they do best – adapt.

While things like Clorox sanitizing wipes might be scarce these days, most large box-store retailers have recovered their supply chain enough to have some of the good old basics – rubbing alcohol vinegar and blue Dawn dishwashing liquid.

In the July 2020 issue of Land Line Magazine Maintenance Q&A, Paul Abelson gives detailed instructions on deep cleaning and disinfecting the cab of the truck using everyday household items like the ones mentioned above. It’s a great reference guide for really getting things spic-and-span.

But what about daily upkeep?

Ladies and gentlemen, I present the chock-full-of-information online sensation – Pinterest.

Oh no, Pinterest is not just for Becky Homecky. It’s a wealth of how-to’s and what-for’s and everything else in between. And since the drivers I know don’t usually have time to try out myriad concoctions listed to find the one they like best, I’ll give a very basic recipe for sanitizing wipes you can customize with whatever essential oil smells you’d like.

That’s right, I said essential oils. Call me a tree-hugging hippie, I don’t care. The olfactory senses (your smeller) evoke vivid emotional response, whether you realize it or not. (Reference: “I love the smell of diesel in the morning!”)

(You don’t have to use essential oils if you’re not comfortable with it. I won’t push the envelope. I will say that this recipe doesn’t smell particularly great, but it gets the job done.)

Obviously this is easier for someone who is on home time, but it’s not impossible to make your own sanitizing wipes on the road.


Wendy Parker's sanitizing wipes
Homemade cloth sanitizing wipes.

You have the choice of re-usable or disposable. Truthfully, the reusable cloth wipes are preferable, just for strength and integrity. They also cut down on garbage waste and deforestation, but there I go with my tree-hugging again. (Literally, when it comes to paper waste.)

Decide what’s better for your sanitizing wipes – a plastic container or a glass container that is airtight. I prefer the lock-top jars, but if you’re hinky about having glass in the cab a clean plastic coffee container works great. I’ve also used a plastic bread-keeper. Space is always an issue in the truck, you know what fits best in yours.

For the actual solution, you’ll need vinegar, rubbing alcohol, water, and Dawn dishwashing soap.

Mix one part rubbing alcohol, one part vinegar equally. Add it to two parts water. Complete with a teaspoon of Dawn. You want your container about half-full of liquid solution. For example, for a 64-ounce container I mix 16 ounces of water with 8 ounces of alcohol, 8 ounces of vinegar and a healthy teaspoon of Dawn.

Tweak that solution to fit your container and add whatever you’ve decided to use for wipes. You want to cram the container full if you’re using cloth. I usually put somewhere around 30 lightweight cotton washcloths in before all the liquid is absorbed and the cloths don’t drip when they’re pulled out.

If you choose the disposable route, I’d suggest using shop towels for cleaning integrity. They cost about the same as the expensive paper towels and hold up much better.

If all this effort seems like a pain-in-the-you-know-what, you’re right. It’s not as easy as grabbing a canister of pre-made goodies, but once you get used to making your own sanitizing wipes, it’s certainly better than the alternative of riding around all germy and wondering if the herptafluffalupugus is lurking on your steering wheel.

Be safe out there, drivers. Take care of yourselves. You’re the most important piece of equipment you have.