How to Disinfect Without Chemicals (The Best Natural Disinfectant)

Disinfect without chemicals

I have both good news and bad news.  More good than bad.

So that’s good, right?

The first good news? I’m going to share my favorite all-natural way to disinfect portable items.

The second good news? My kids are MOSTLY at the age when they puke inside things.

Like toilets or buckets or trash-cans.  Not just randomly in beds or on carpet or wherever they happen to be when they suddenly realize their stomach has been hurting for the past who-knows-how-long.

The bad news? The word mostly.

Last week, we had one puke-ey night.

But other than a 6yo coming to tell me she had (like, past tense) thrown up, and assuring me everything landed in either the potty or the trashcan, I wasn’t disturbed.

I’m dashing my chances at 2013’s Mother of the Year Award, but I’ll admit that I simply gave a sympathetic “Poor Baby” and rolled right back over.

So the next day, as I cleaned out the (not that bad) trash can, I was reminded of my favorite all-natural, disinfecting, de-stinkifying substance.


Sunlight bleaches, removes smells, and disinfects.  Really.  It’s amazing.

I know because my mother told me so.

I know because I’ve done it myself with various stinky things made stinky by three kids.

But I also found it here on TLC’s website, and they make it sound much more scientific-ey.

I especially love using sunlight to bleach/clean a left-closed-for-too-long-with-who-knows-what-trapped-inside ice chest.

Have you ever used sunlight to disinfect? 



  1. 1

    Not only does sunlight help deoderize things, but it will help take stains out of clothing, especially whites. There are many instances where a good laundering, then laying the wet item with the stain on green grass in bright sunlight will help that stain to fade right away. I suppose it’s something to do with the chlorophyll in the grass reacting to something in direct sunlight. You might have to do it more than once, but it works. Brightens things better than bleach.
    And is there anything more delightful than sleeping on sun-dried sheets and pillowcases? I suppose you COULD lay them on the grass, but I live on 5 acres, so I have a clothesline and can hardly wait for the cold weather to go so that I can start using it again.

    • 2

      I have a baby with reflux, and the clothesline has saved so many clothes in the last 7 months. I’m hoping the storms we’re supposed to have today hold off a couple more hours, because I have some hanging out there now.

    • 3

      I love sunbleaching for cloth diapers. All natural and doesn’t affect absorbency. 🙂 The method I used most often was on the dashboard, but that was before we had a lawn. I am going to be putting up a clothesline this year (just in time for baby #2 and more diapers) and I am excited about hanging his diapers out to dry! (Yes, I’m a little weird.)

    • 5

      I hate to be so dense, but do you lay the stain directly against the grass? For example, if the stain is on the front of a t-shirt, do you turn the front face-down on the grass OR leave the shirt face-up towards the sun? Thanks!

      • 6

        You don’t need grass. I have also sunned stains out of cloth diapers and clothes on the dashboard of my car MANY times.

      • 7

        To answer your question, put the stain of the shirt facing up toward the sun and it doesn’t need to be on grass. The main purpose of mentioning grass is to ensure the garment is flat and therefore getting the most sun on it. I line-dry, so I strategically arrange stains (on underwear, for example) with that part facing up. There is sunlight all around, but might as well get it angled onto the stains. Be sure to shake out clothes that have been on grass, so insects don’t get inside your house.

        I hung up all my cloth diapers years ago, and today hung out the little U-shaped rugs that go around toilets. Pillows too, and mattress covers (in between washes). For dashboard drying, park facing the sun; west is best for long afternoon exposure.

    • 8

      My mother and grandmother did that with the white sheets! Yes, it really works!

  2. 9
    Jenny Mosier says:

    Sunlight is my FAVORITE “cure” for our suitcases in the summertime, especially after camping. It even works on the 12-year-old’s suitcase after a WEEK of camp, and you can imagine how that smells!!! Aaaack! Great to be reminded of this, especially since we haven’t seen the sun lately here in Indiana!!!

  3. 10

    What have I disinfected outdoors?

    – ice chests
    – rugs
    – trash cans
    – buckets
    – recycling bins
    – clay potting pots
    – mattresses
    – books (sunlight kills mildew)
    – plastic toys
    – tools
    And tomato stains, which are so difficult to remove otherwise, are lifted right out by laying the cloth on clean, green grass in full sun. Great stuff, sunlight.

  4. 13
    Angie W. says:

    Never to disinfect. This is new to me but it is my favorite stain remover. Unfortunately in the PNW, I have to store up my stains and remember to stick them out. I will have to try the disinfecting business. In a few months when the sun may come out and stay longer than 30 seconds.

  5. 14

    Sunlight is great for cloth diapers! The sun bleaches out the stains and kills any residual germs. I don’t hang them on the line every wash, but it’s nice to hang them out sometimes. They come back smelling and looking much better.

  6. 15

    My favorite thing to de-stink and disinfect in the sun is kitchen sponges. They get icky so quickly and running them through the dishwasher tears them up. a few hours on the patio table on a sunny day , even in the winter, and the musty smell is gone.

  7. 16
    Queen Lorine says:

    We always put the boys’ hockey gear out in the sun any chance we got, made a huge difference and much better than Febreze scented stuff.

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