7 Weird Ways to Disinfect Wounds and Prevent Infection

Injuries can happen anywhere. You must act quickly to prevent infection. Sustaining a laceration, even inside the house, can still lead to life-threatening complications if not treated immediately with antiseptics, like rubbing alcohol and hydrogen peroxide, and traditional, over-the-counter antibiotic cream.

weird wound disinfectants

However, during natural disasters, store-bought disinfectants may be scarce or even unavailable. But you may already have a number of usable, though unusual, ways to clean wounds just lying around the house.

Ubiquitous Warning: Do not attempt to use any of the following treatments before consulting a physician.

Here are some common household items that you can use to help prevent infection.

1. Garlic


Garlic is one of the most common and potent natural antibiotics available. In an emergency, peel and crush a garlic clove and rub it directly onto the open wound to disinfect it and help prevent infection.

You can make garlic oil for future use. Crush or mince 1 bulb of garlic and combine with two cups extra virgin olive oil. Let steep in the refrigerator for one week, shaking the mixture daily. At the end of the week, strain out the garlic pieces. Keep refrigerated. Garlic oil can be taken internally or used topically. One of the more popular uses for garlic oil is to treat ear infections.

2. Baking soda & Vinegar

baking soda and vinegar

Baking soda is an incredibly versatile survival item; every home should have a good supply on hand. It can be used as an all-purpose household cleaner, laundry detergent, toothpaste, fire extinguisher, heartburn remedy and it is mild enough to help in cleaning wounds. By mixing it with water to create a pasty substance, you can apply it directly on the wound and gently massage the area to ease bleeding. You can also leave it sitting for 20 minutes or until the wound has clotted.

Once the bleeding stops, flush or soak the wound in a diluted (1:1 with water) white vinegar solution. Continue using vinegar daily to help prevent infection as the wound heals. Ingesting vinegar can also help treat infection from the inside out. Also, many report that adding apple cider vinegar to the diet helps treat a variety of infections, including urinary tract infections.

3. Tea tree oil

tea tree oil

This oil is widely used as topical skin-care and anti-fungal treatment, but it also has anti-bacterial properties. By applying the oil directly on a cleansed open wound, you can prevent infection as it kills bacteria, fungi and virus all in one application. The oil can also help in lessening the gush of blood. Tea tree oil may cause irritation and can be diluted with olive oil, if desired.

4. Toothpaste and Acne Cream

toothpaste ingredients

Zinc is a dietary supplement that is used to treat a variety of ailments like the common cold, ear infections and acne. Though the majority of households will not regularly keep zinc supplements (in pill form), most will have toothpaste, which often contains zinc citrate or zinc lactate.

Dabbing a wound with toothpaste containing zinc can work as an emergency antiseptic, helping to stave off infection. Zinc has been shown to be helpful in not only closing up open wounds but in minimizing inflammation of unbroken skin as well. Acne treatment creams containing zinc may also be used to prevent infection.

5. Citrus Juice

citrus juice

Ever realized you had a paper cut while peeling an orange? The high citric-acid content in lemons, limes, oranges and grapefruits can help to disinfect wounds. This technique is most effective, and it should be noted, also painful, when the juice from fresh produce is used. However, prepackaged 100% citrus juice can be used in an emergency.

6. Mouthwash


The cause of morning breath is the build-up of bacteria while sleeping. Commercial mouthwashes are designed to kill this bacteria and can work as a topical anti-bacterial agent in an emergency. Simply pour the mouthwash over the open wound to flush and clean it.

7. Mint Tea

mint tea

The extract from mint leaves is a natural antiseptic. It is most potent when made from fresh leaves from, say, an herbal garden, but dried commercial teas will work also. To prevent infection, break open 5 to 10 fresh leaves and rub them onto the open wound. While many households may not have access to fresh mint, the liquid from mint tea can be used to clean wounds in a pinch. Make a strong tea using 2 or 3 bags per 8 oz of water. Let the tea cool (it shouldn’t burn when applied) and pour over the open wound.

READ MORE: "Emergency Wilderness First Aid Tips"

READ MORE: "Treating Frostbite for Survival"

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