To quickly treat germs on your hands or any surface you might touch, the best travel sanitizing wipes are formulated with ingredients like alcohol and ammonium with proven antibacterial properties. And when it comes to travel wipes in particular, they come in lightweight containers that you can throw in your bag, and some are even individually wrapped to keep them fresh longer. Plus, they’re available in a range of scents and even fragrance-free formulas to suit your preferences.
What to look for when buying disinfectant wipes for travel
Disinfectant wipes use different active ingredients, and some products are designed for use on the skin while others contain stronger concentrations for wiping surfaces. If you buy hand wipes, keep in mind that each active disinfectant ingredient can cause skin irritation and dryness depending on your specific sensitivities, so you can use them sparingly.
Many wipes contain ethyl alcohol, which the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says is effective against the flu and other viruses at a concentration of 60-80%. Other disinfectant wipes contain ammonium compounds such as 0.1% benzalkonium chloride, which is effective against bacteria, fungi and viruses. However, the CDC notes that benzalkonium chloride can be potentially irritating to asthmatics. Also consider whether you prefer scented or fragrance-free wipes, as the latter may be less irritating to sensitive skin.
Finally, all of the best disinfectant wipes for travel come in resealable or individually wrapped packs that are easy to take on the road – scroll down to find the easiest option for you.
1. Fan-favorite wipes
These individually wrapped disinfectant wipes have a near-perfect overall rating of 4.8 stars on Amazon and over 10,000 reviews. The wipes use benzalkonium chloride to kill 99.99% of germs, according to the brand, and they can be used to wipe down surfaces as well as clean hands. They are available in two scents, and there is also an unscented version, which is ideal for sensitive skin.
A reviewer wrote: “They are perfect to have in your purse, car, etc. They are compact, so easy to transport. Some wipes have a very pungent alcohol smell, but these smell really good. For anyone who needs hand wipes and wants something easy to carry, these are for you.
Active ingredient: Benzalkonium chloride (0.13%) | Scent: Tropical, fresh, fragrance free
2. Writer-Approved Wipes
I am a big fan of these Turkish kolonya wipes. In addition to meeting the alcohol concentration recommended by the CDC, these wipes are made with essential oils, including lemon harvested in the Aegean coastal area of Turkey. They smell divine and don’t dry out my hands. And months after purchase, the individually wrapped wipes are just as fresh and moist. Although they’re meant for your hands, I’ve also used them to clean table tops and counters.
A reviewer wrote: “A fresh, clean lemon scent and they don’t sting or irritate my sensitive skin at all. Plus they feel cool and are so refreshing.
Active ingredient: Alcohol (65%) | Scent: Lemon Cesma
3. Wipes to disinfect surfaces
These bleach-free wipes are safe to use on a variety of surfaces, including finished wood, sealed granite, and stainless steel, although they are not recommended for use on skin. They come in a resealable pouch and, according to the brand, can eliminate 99.9% of bacteria and viruses and eliminate common allergens. A popular option on Amazon, they have an overall rating of 4.8 stars after over 1,700 reviews. In addition to lemon, they are also available in a fresh scent.
A reviewer wrote: “These are great for air travel, car travel, and cruise travel. They don’t dry out when the package is opened for a VERY long time.”
Active ingredient: N-alkyl dimethyl benzyl ammonium chloride (0.184%), ethylbenzyl ammonium chloride (0.184%) | Scent: lemon, fresh
4. Fragrance-free alcohol wipes
If you prefer unscented hand wipes or ethyl alcohol as the active ingredient, these Purell fragrance-free wipes have an overall rating of 4.8 stars on Amazon. According to the brand, the hand wipes can kill 99.99% of germs and the individually wrapped sachets keep the wipes fresh and moist on the go. Even better, you’ll get 300 wipes for less than $20.
A reviewer wrote: “These are the best hand wipes you can buy. There is no sticky residue or weird smell. It’s alcohol based so hands [dry] go up very quickly. Sometimes there are hiccups (dried up packets), but most of the time they are excellent.
Active ingredient: Ethyl alcohol (62%) | Scent: Without perfume
5. Those designed for sensitive skin
Since they’re designed for babies, these disinfectant wipes have a gentle formula that’s free from many common allergens and substances that can cause sensitivity. They are free of parabens, sulfates, phthalates, synthetic fragrances and dyes. The wipes are also made with aloe and glycerin to moisturize the hands, and they come in a resealable pouch. Although they’re supposed to be gentle on sensitive skin, they still kill 99.9% of common bacteria. The hand wipes also received over 15,000 reviews and an overall rating of 4.8 stars.
A reviewer wrote: “I have them for traveling to clean my hands and face as well as the airplane seat. Worked well for this purpose. Subtle odor and no residue.
Active ingredient: Benzalkonium chloride (0.13%) | Scent: Mandarin
Merchel Piovesan Pereira, B., & Tagkopoulos, I. (2019). Benzalkonium chlorides: uses, regulatory status and microbial resistance. Applied and environmental microbiology, 85(13), e00377-19. https://doi.org/10.1128/AEM.00377-19