Make Your Own Face Cleansing Pads for Oily Skin

homemade face cleansing pads Notice the title of this post didn’t say MAKEUP REMOVER pads. I have done posts about those before (here and here), but these are different.

With two teenage boys at home, we are more concerned with CLEANSING than makeup removal. :-)

Most MAKEUP REMOVER pads contain oil (rightly so) for dissolving and removing stubborn mascara, etc. But, if you have skin that tends to be on the oily side (and you don’t even WEAR makeup!), you probably need something with more CLEANSING action. (Think Stridex….but without the “medicated” part.)

That’s why I was very excited to come across this idea for cleansing pads, for the “men in my life”.


homemade face cleansing pads I found this idea on Frugal Money Management:

You’ll need:

Pour all ingredients into a container and shake to combine. Place enough cotton rounds into a container with a tight-fitting lid to fill it. Pour cleansing solution over the pads until saturated. Save any remaining cleanser for later use.

homemade face cleansing pads

Rubbing alcohol is commonly used as a disinfectant to soothe skin. It is also considered to be helpful in healing acne because it helps dry the skin and cleans off acne-causing bacteria.  People with sensitive skin should avoid using rubbing alcohol! 

Vinegar is another home remedy often used to soothe skin issues. The acidic properties of vinegar are good for bee stings and sunburns because they gently neutralize the pain. You can also use vinegar to shrink your pores, and it’s an ingredient in popular home remedies for acne and astringents.
homemade face cleansing pads

My skin is not oily (which is a mixed blessing!) but I decided to give this a try tonight when I cleaned my face and it felt really good! My skin felt clean and soft. No tight feel…which surprised me.

Now if I can just get “my guys” to use it. :-)



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  1. Gwendolyn says

    I used your recipe but substituted witch hazel for the rubbing alcohol (I have super sensitive skin)
    It works so well. My skin feels super good! I’ll check back in a week to let you know how it’s working on my blemishes!!

  2. Gale says

    I was so excited when I saw the tile of this! I will be trying this TODAY!!! After I got past my teen years I had good skin…and then, like Jeni, once I hit about 30 it all changed. My forehead gets so oily now…to the point where people think I’m sweating cuz it looks wet…ugh!!! So I can’t wait to try this. I have some small jelly jars (left over from making your sugar scrub) that’ll work perfect for this!

  3. Holly Roberts says

    I will have to try this as a carry along in my handbag! It’ll make a quick dap while on the run so much easier, and I hate how much the cost per use goes up for those smaller packages.

    Also, don’t know how old “your guys” are, but in general, men don’t like anything that uses cotton (balls or pads)… they get fluff stuck in their wiskers. :(

  4. Mary Malone says

    Love your blog. I read it every day. First. We don’t need this stuff here, but it would be great for teens and anyone else who needs it….. but I just wanted to say : “Your nails look terrific!”.

    Mary Malone

  5. kim says

    Oh Jillee, this is brilliant! With 4 teenage boys, I’ve spent atleast a years worth of college tuition on those pads….okay, slight exaggeration, but geesh those pads aren’t cheap! The only change I think I’d make is to use Irish Spring body wash instead of the shampoo, as it contains salicylic acid which helps with the acne. Definitely doing this!

  6. Deborah Jennings says

    I love this! I don’t have any children at home anymore, but I do love this idea. I will forward it on to my daughter. Now, do you have something for normal to dry skin? The older I get, it seems the dryer my skin becomes.

    Thank you so much for sharing all that you do with us!

    • Angie says

      Dry skin is prominent as you get older because your skin slows its oil production through hormone changes (although some have naturally drier skin their whole life). The key is you have to trap moisture onto your skin so it will retain moisture and not lose it.

      First, you should be using a good cream cleanser . They aren’t as drying and harsh as typical soap cleansers. Cream cleansers typically don’t completely strip your skin of all its oils. Little/No oil on your face = dry skin! Those natural oils are what help prevent the moisture in your skin from evaporating. Maybe try one of Jillee’s oil cleansers :)

      Secondly, once you wash the soap off of your face, pat your skin with a clean towel until it’s ALMOST dry. The main purpose of a moisturizer is actually NOT to give your skin more moisture, but to create a barrier that prevents your skin’s moisture from evaporating. If you dry it completely before applying a moisturizer, you have virtually no moisture to lock in underneath your moisturizer.

      Finally, choose a thick, creamy moisturizer. Yes, your skin will absorb a bit of the moisturizer’s water, but its main purpose is to create that barrier. Generally thick, creamy moisturizers are best for dry skin and thinner moisturizers for normal to oily skin.

      A good SPF lotion or hat should also be used when in the sun to avoid further drying and damage to the delicate skin on your face. Also, don’t forget to drink plenty of water. Because your face is one of the most exposed areas of your body, it tends to lose more moisture and needs to be replenished. Steam facials temporarily alleviate dry skin as well, just be sure to put on your thick moisturizer immediately following the facial before your skin dries! Remember, a great side effect of well hydrated skin is less wrinkles! You may have to try a few products before you find one that works well for you. It will take some time to see a difference, so wait a few weeks before switching your regimine, and only make one change at a time so you know exactly what works, and what won’t. Good luck to you :)

  7. Jennifer says

    Tea tree oil is my go-to for breakouts. You aren’t supposed to use it undiluted on your skin, so I usually mix a drop in with my moisturizer but I also keep a small misting spray bottle (glass!) with witch hazel and some tea tree oil in it and use it as toner. Annnd…I have been known to dap it on full-strength even though you shouldn’t. It works great, so I would add some to this (unless any of the other ingredients are not okay to mix with it but I don’t know) but you would need to use a glass container, I believe. I don’t know at what point it would no longer eat through the plastic.

  8. Jo says

    I love this idea! I too have recently started using the oil cleaninsing method and am more than amazed at how awesome it is! When I first read about it I was totally skeptical that it would work. After while I tried it both out of curiosity and desperation for something that would work! I love it! Mi will never go back to store bought.
    This idea is great too! All of your ideas are… I think I’ll try it with your reusable pads from your “homemade makeup remover and reusable pads” post!
    I love your blog Jillee! I have used many of your ideas already. I look foreword to reading it everyday!

  9. Maija says

    It’s been a few years since I’ve used soap or any wash on my face.
    I do like the thought of making these pads. I bet they’d feel refreshing.
    I wonder if you could make some formula without soap/shampoo?
    I wonder if a jarful of these moist pads would mould?

  10. Michelle says

    I recently made the little cotton pads to use with my homemade eye make-up remover (which I LOVE!) and I love the idea of them being re-usable. In an attempt to make less waste, do you think that something similar could be used with this solution so that they could be washed and re-used?

    • Mary Roper says

      Winter- You can just use Witch Hazel and the cotton pad. Witch hazel can be found in the same area as the rubbing alcohol and peroxide in the store. Witch Hazel is a natural astringent. I have a daughter with alabaster white skin- think “Whiter than sour cream” she has very sensitive skin. Witch hazel is all she can use. We seriously just put the cotton pad over the top of the open bottle and turn it over to wet the cotton circle then rub it on the face. You can see the dirt and oil on the cotton pad.

  11. Brandette W. says

    Seriously Girl, I do not know how you find so many amazing recipes for us all to save money!!!

    You are amazing, I love you site and go to it every day. I am so thankful for this post, it is almost like you have been inside my head this week. I stocked up big time on my favorite acne cleansing wipes along time ago, they were discontinued and I never have found something I like as well that didn’t sting my face but was easy to “take along” in my bag. Just this week, I opened the next to last box and was seriously sad and wondering what I was going to do without them. I have such oily skin that is very acne prone so I love my wipes.

    I have all of the ingredients for this recipe so I am SO trying it to see how it goes. Everyone else who has made it and is in the trial session of trying it, please please report back for the rest of us on how it works for you. These would save so much money and be a great on the go option if they work well.

    Also, the other 2 recipes I have found through you that I can not LOVE anymore than I do are
    1) the homemade granite cleaner ( I use this to clean my granite, my glass cooktop, my cellphone screen, windows, mirrors. Basically anywhere where I want a nice streak free clean since the rubbing alcohol makes it dry so quickly!!)

    and 2) the homemade shower cleaner ( I have been using this one for awhile and it is amazing. I was spending so much on store bought foam stuff that worked ok but never got the hard water buildup off our doors. This stuff I literally just spray on once a month, let it sit overnight, and then we wash it away with our next morning’s shower. So unbelievably easy and cheap cheap cheap!)

    • Angie says

      I don’t see why not. I would think you would just need to be sure they dissolve completely and that you use it quickly before it has a chance to break down. I personally would start with a half tablet and work my way up until I notice a difference.

  12. says

    This seems like a great idea. Even though I am old enough to have college-age sons, I still have oily skin (although I also have the skin problems that come with aging!), so I definitely will give this a try.


  13. Lori-Anne says

    This is a great idea. To save money in the past, I have put some plain cotton pads at the bottom of the store-bought cleansing pads since they are always to moist. I can add at least another 10-20 pads this way.
    I have never tried making my own, but I will now!
    In Canada I pay about $6.99 for 90 pads and go through them quickly when its humid : (
    It gets expensive since I keep containers in my bathroom, work desk, cottage etc.
    Thanks for the great idea and instructions!

  14. says

    I am THRILLED you just posted this. I have been using Trader Joes’ Tea Tree Oil facial cleansing pads for the past couple months, and it’s completely saved my face, but I’m running out and 5-6 bucks for a jar of 50 is a little painful for frugal little me. THIS though, can be made almost completely with stuff bought at the dollar store, and the supplies will last all year!

    Witch hazel; Is it easy to find?

  15. Cathy says

    I just tried this using boiled water, distiller vinegar, witchazel, and dr bonner’s Castile soap. None of the ingredients smell objectionable on their own but together it smells like rancid milk! I did notice that when the soap hit the vinegar it looked like it curdled but was fine when I added water and shook. I will try again with another type of soap. Love your posts. I’ve tried quite a few of your ideas. Thanks.

    • Shannon says

      I realize I’m replying to your comment more than a month after it was posted, but I just wanted to let you know – castile soap is a base and vinegar is an acid, using the two together is going to cause them to cancel each other out. The curdled mess you had was the vinegar turning the castile soap back to it’s natural oils. You should be fine just choosing another soap (I’m probably going to try some Johnson’s baby wash) :)

  16. kim says

    I just now made this.. like 2 minutes ago and wanted to report in. I was a little apprehensive to add the vinegar after reading Cathy’s comment above, but decided to take my chances.
    I did tweak the recipe just a tad…. I wanted to make a smaller batch in case my kids rebel and refuse to use it. I heated 1/2 cup water in the micro for 2 minutes, added 1 teaspoon Irish Spring body wash (the one that contains salicylic acid), 2 teaspoons witch hazel and 1 teaspoon vinegar. It smells really nice actually. Time will tell how effective it is for my boys’ acne.

  17. lynda D says

    I use to have pimples upon pimples, and blotchy skin. I then found out about using borax (the 20 mule team) mixture on skin (as a vinegar substitute) made my face even and very few pimples. I kept hearing how all these processed chemicals work; yet when I tried them I would become a large pimple. I now mix 1/2 cup of table salt, 1 Tbsp. of baking soda, and 1 Tbsp. of Borax in a glass jar, and then mix 1 Tbsp of this mixture into about 2 cups of water (half of bathroom sink) and use it to wash my face daily. I now get 1 pimple a month. You can use a few drops of lavender oil or add a cup of camomile tea (steeped for 20 min) in place if the 2 c of water. Hope this helps other people. If you want to use this in a bath just add a 1/2 c of Epsom salts and the batch does 2 baths; smooth skin.

    I think I will now use this as a pad recipe, instead of in the sink! Thanks for the idea.

  18. bree says

    You ladies are seriously putting rubbing alcohol on your face? It does nothing but dry your skin out. What happens when your skin is too dry? Your body produces more oil to help re-hydrate.
    My suggestion? Purchase a foam soap dispenser and Body Shop’s tea tree oil skin cleaning facial wash. I use about 3 tablespoons of cleaner every time I fill up the dispenser.
    I’ve been doing this for about 10 years now and very rarely do I break out (usually during exam time in Uni because it stresses me the heck out). The cleanser lasts forever. It is only 11$ but you only have to spend that every two years.
    I personally would not trust making your own cleansing pads. You can’t control how much bacteria gets in the container.
    And witch hazel is safe for your skin BUT it does cause your cells to mature faster because you’re always scraping off the top layer of skin. Just remember that your skin cells go through their cycle so many times before they start to weaken and wrinkle. (Food for thought)

    • Angie says

      While your first four sentences are true, I really don’t agree with much else you said. Unless you are creating your face wash in a completely sterile environment, you have bacteria in your soap too. Something doesn’t have to be dirty to carry bacteria, they live practically everywhere. The vinegar acts as an antibacterial agent, so that helps take care of that issue. Also, the “scraping off the top layer of skin” you are referring to is called exfoliation. Do you realize you are removing some of that top layer of skin every day just by washing your face? It is a necessary process to keep your skin clean and free of debris. Using witch hazel is much less harsh than a physical exfoliant (think apricot scrub). Lastly, your skin cells do not wrinkle. Collagen fibers form under the skin, adding to that tight, youthful appearance. It is the breakdown of these collagen fibers via disease processes, free radicals, and external repetitive movements such as smiling and squinting that cause wrinkles, NOT exfoliation.

  19. Pam W. says

    A quick idea of change for those with sensitive skin, substitute Peroxide instead of Rubbing Alchohol.
    It has great healing properties and does not dry the skin as badly as rubbing alchohol.
    Another food for thought, it’s all about finding balance in your skin, too dry triggers those oil producing glands into high gear. I have my girls moisturize with a light, non-greasy moisturizer after a good deep cleansing. Their skin is SO much better now. ;)

    Just my opinion…

    Pam W.

  20. Jenna says

    I can’t wait to try this for my kids. I wanted to let you know what else I have tried for my kids that helped their acne. I have two children that are 3 1/2 years apart. My son had really terrible acne and before looking for more natural solutions I took my son to the doctor and she gave him antibiotic pads. The doctor also suggested putting him on Accutane (a really strong acne medicine) if the pads didn’t work. He had a lot of acne really close together all over his T-zone and his cheeks. The antibiotic pads did help some, but he complained of burning on his face and didn’t like using them. I came across a tip in a magazine that said to use calamine lotion for acne to dry it out. You just dab it on the pimple with cotton tips and let it dry before you go to bed then clean your face in the morning when you get up. I didn’t like the idea of using the antibiotic pads, so after doing some research on it we started using the calamine lotion. It took a couple of weeks, but my son had a lot less acne after using it. We get the Humco brand at Walmart, a pink 6oz. bottle that costs a little over a dollar. There are different brands and some of the lotions are pink or clear, but this is the best that works for us and it’s the cheapest. Since calamine lotion is used to treat poison ivy or chicken pox they often put additives in the lotion that are helpful for these conditions, but for acne you want to make sure you get the kind of lotion that doesn’t have any of the additives. These additive help your skin when you have these conditions, but for acne treatment on your face they can bother the skin.
    When my daughter became a teenager we used the calamine lotion on her and got the same results. Always looking for more tips (which is one of the reasons I love Jillee’s website) I found another one in one of my magazines that said to make sure that the milk and meat that you get is organic or from a farm that promises not to use hormones on their animals. Again I did some research on the subject and we gave it a try. Getting organic milk and meat is extremely expensive, but its worth it for my kids to have clear skin. Their skin cleared up dramatically!!! We still use the calamine lotion for breakouts, but they no longer have acne ALL OVER their faces. My daughter went from being self conscience and being called a pizza face to getting compliments on her skin. We were able to actually just get cheaper milk that said its farmers promised not to use hormones with good results. We prefer Dean’s milk which is half the cost of organic milk (there are other brands that have that promise on them, this is what works best for my family). Hope this helps someone else!


  21. Joe J says

    How frustrating to be in your 40s and still fighting oily skin and breakouts! (Though oily skin does keep wrinkles at bay!) Like many women, I’ve bounced around from one cleansing product to another, trying to find one that deals with oiliness and breakouts without stripping the skin completely and leaving you feel dried out. Shielo’s Complexion Scrub cleans the face well with a gently-foaming gel (it doesn’t take much product), and the skin feels fresh and balanced afterward — not tight and dry. I’ve used it for a month now, and I’m getting good results. And the product is sold at a fair price. I had to buy online at Shielo’s website, since my local store does not stock it. But its worth it – its the only thing that helps with my acne!

  22. Debra B says

    Instead of using “soap”, try using Purpose cleanser. It’s inexpensive and great for sensitive skin. I have sensitive skin and use it every single night followed by eucerin lotion with SPF 30. You can get Purpose at any drug store for about $5. No weird chemicals or fragrances.. Try it!

  23. Toni says

    I made this in August for my 16 year old son during football season to offset the forehead acne and chin acne caused by wearing helmets. HE LOVED IT!! My skin is far from perfect and I decided to try it also. I LOVE IT! I made another batch today. So glad I have found (a lot more than one good thing from) Jillee!!

    • Angie says

      My 15 year-old was the first person I thought of when I read this post. He has been getting horrible acne since football season began. He plays several positions, so he is literally sweating in his dirty helmet throughout the entire game!

      I personally went from being in my 20′s and having often-complimented skin, to being in my 30′s with horrible, embarrassing skin and Rosacea. I actually quit my last semester of Esthetics school because I was so bummed I couldn’t treat my own skin :( I will definitely be trying this as well as substituting the water for chamomile tea (minus the rubbing alcohol) like another comment suggested. Maybe that will help calm all the redness!

  24. Jessica P says

    I have a naturally oily face. I am in my upper 20′s but this has been going on since I was 14.

    I have kind of a ball point nose. A regular nose with my tip like a ball. I am also brown in skin tone. Basically blackheads show up quickly and prominently on my nose. I tried strips but he removal took some on and some off. Also, they would come back withhin a few days.

    Three times per week I use the Citrus Clear Face Wash – it really works. It clears my blackheads, especially my nose for exactly a week. Its cheap and last me months too!

  25. says

    I made this face cleanser last night. I did throw in tea tree oil for prohibiting mold and antibacterial properties. This made my face feel really refreshed! As you stated. Not dry at all. Thank you for the wonderful instructions/ recipe! :o)

  26. Karen says

    once again-here you are! I wanted to find a cheaper alternative to the stridex pads and your blog was the first to pop up! Thanks for all your hard work on this blog-you really do make a huge difference!


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