All-purpose cleaners are a lifesaver when it comes to saving time during your cleaning routine. But you don’t have to resort to using harsh chemicals to get your home clean. These chemicals linger long after you’ve cleaned, slowly poisoning your family. Even some of the product label “green” or “natural” contain questionable ingredients. Many simple ingredients you have at home have multiple uses too. Ingredients like baking soda, coconut oil, vinegar, lemon, and even rubbing alcohol are incredibly multipurpose when it comes to household and beauty uses.
What Is Rubbing Alcohol?
Rubbing alcohol consists of isopropyl alcohol or isopropanol in water. It contains denatured alcohol, water, and agents that make it taste awful (1).
That’s because ingesting rubbing alcohol can cause blindness in tiny doses and even death in slightly large amounts (2). In fact, the body metabolizes isopropyl alcohol it into acetone. This substance causes headaches, dizziness, nausea, vomiting, central nervous system depression, organ damage and, potentially, coma or death. Hence, it goes without saying that isopropyl alcohol should never be swallowed and should never come into contact with your eyes.
Rubbing alcohol is flammable, so it should always be stored safely.
Why You Should Always Have Alcohol At Home
Rubbing alcohol is first and foremost a disinfecting agent. It’s most often found in first aid kits to treat minor wounds and prevent infection. Actually, it’s a great first resort when a mild infection starts to set in.
Rubbing alcohol can be found in any pharmacy as well as most grocery stores and corner stores.
But alcohol should be taken out of the first aid kit once in a while since it has countless other uses.
27 Household Rubbing Alcohol Uses
Bet you didn’t know there were so many things you can do with rubbing alcohol! Make sure to purchase 70% isopropyl alcohol to make all of the remedies below.
1. Bed Bugs
Bed bugs are small little critters that can be hard to spot to the naked eye. They usually live in second-hand furniture, clothing and in homes and hotel rooms. Active at night, the bugs scurry off into mattresses, headboards, and bed frames. While they are annoying, bed bugs don’t carry diseases. However, they do cause itchy welts similar to mosquito bites (3).
Bedbugs can be killed by regularly cleaning your sheets, mattress, headboard, and the area around your bed. In extreme cases, a full-scale extermination may be necessary (4).
To wipe them out naturally:
- Mix rubbing alcohol and water in a 1-1 ratio into a spray bottle.
- Spray a light mist on your mattress and pillows, allow to dry, and vacuum. Wash your bedding in hot water and dry on high heat for at least 30 minutes.
- You should also use the mixture to wipe down your bed frame, headboard, baseboards, and surrounding furniture.
- Since it’s not a good idea to inhale large amounts of the alcohol, open your window to air out the room before going to sleep.
2. Skin Cleanser
- Soak a cotton swab in rubbing alcohol.
- Dab it on the affected area gently.
- Leave it on for 10 minutes.
- Rinse the affected area with lukewarm water. You can also follow up with aloe vera gel.
- Do this twice daily for a couple of days only.
3. Cold Sores Treatment
Cold sores are caused by the herpes simplex virus. While the virus doesn’t fully go away, different things can trigger a cold sore. In fact, can take up to two weeks for a sore to fully heal (5). Speed along the process by applying rubbing alcohol to the sore using a q-tip or cotton ball up to twice a day until it heals.
4. Deodorant Replacement
To kill the bacteria that cause body odor, dab a bit of rubbing alcohol under your armpits using a cotton ball.
Be careful not to use this trick too often to avoid skin irritation.
Try these natural alternatives instead.
5. Removal of Ingrown Hairs
Prevent ingrown hairs in your armpits and bikini lines by applying alcohol to the area after shaving and drying it off. You can also use alcohol to disinfect your tweezers and skin before plucking out an ingrown hair.
6. Cold Pack
Make your own flexible ice pack by mixing water and alcohol in 2:1 ratio. Pour the mixture into a freezer ziplock bag, seal, and place in the freezer for at least an hour.
7. Remove Nail Polish
If you’re all out of acetone, use rubbing alcohol to break down the harsh chemicals found in nail polish.
8. Clean Your Ears
Q-tip may be branded as a great tool for cleaning your ears, but they actually push wax deeper into the ear canal. Instead, use equal parts rubbing alcohol and white vinegar and place a few drops into your right ear as you lay down on your left. Let it soften your wax for up to two minutes before covering your right ear with a tissue and laying down on that side to let the wax slide out. Repeat on the other side. Do not repeat more than once a week to avoid drying out your ear canal.
Let it soften your wax for up to two minutes before covering your right ear with a tissue and laying down on that side to let the wax slide out. Repeat on the other side. Do not repeat more than once a week to avoid drying out your ear canal.
9. Fight Swimmer’s Ear
Swimmer’s ear is an infection in the outer ear canal, which runs from your eardrum to the visible part of the ear. It’s often caused by the water that remains in your ear after swimming, as it creates a moist environment that promotes bacterial growth (6). Be warned: do not use this remedy if you have a perforated ear drum.
How to use:
- Mix equal parts of rubbing alcohol and white vinegar.
- Fill an ear dropper with the solution.
- Lie down with the affected ear facing upward.
- Put 2 to 4 drops into the ear and wait 10 minutes.
- Tilt your ear in the opposite direction to allow drainage of any excess liquid.
- Repeat as needed.
10. Destroy Lice
Head lice are small parasites that easily spread in children. While there are many over-the-counter lice solutions, they contain harsh chemicals that can harm your child’s tender scalp. Alcohol, on the other hand, is a safe and cheap alternative that dries out the protective layer of the lice and their eggs.
How to use:
- Do not wash your hair in the days before your treatment.
- Place your head over the bathtub and pour rubbing alcohol over your head, making sure to keep it away from your eyes, mouth, and nose.
- Using your fingers, spread the rubbing alcohol around your scalp and throughout your hair.
- Leave it on for 5 to 10 minutes.
- Use a nit comb to brush out all the lice.
- Finish by shampooing your hair.
- Use this treatment once a week for a couple of months.
11. Hand Sanitizer
Make your own hand sanitizer by mixing 1/2 tablespoon of isopropyl alcohol, several drops of tea tree oil, and 1/2 cup of Aloe Vera gel. Learn how to make it by watching the video below.
12. Kill Ticks
To remove ticks from your family pet, saturate a cotton ball with alcohol and dab the tick using the ball. Wait a few minutes for it to loosen its grip. Grab the tick close to your pet’s skin and pull it right out. Apply a bit of alcohol to the wound to prevent infection. Repeat for all visible ticks. Follow up by washing your pet to make sure he doesn’t accidentally ingest the alcohol.
13. Fight Fruit Flies
If you see fruit flies flying around your home, spray them while they’re flying with an alcohol and water mixture. They’ll fall to the floor, where you can sweep them right up.
14. Bathroom Cleaner
Remove hairspray from your mirror by quickly spraying it with alcohol and wiping it away. You can also use alcohol to wipe clean chrome fixtures and let them dry: no need to rinse it off!
15. Clean Ink Stains
Alcohol works like a charm to remove ink stain, especially on white carpets and linens.
Here’s how to do it:
- First, blot the wet ink with a paper towel.
- Then, apply rubbing alcohol on the stain.
- Repeatedly dab a clean rag over it until the stain comes out. You can keep changing the rag when it starts to pick up the ink to avoid re-staining on your clothing.
- Finally, rinse the clothing with cold water to remove the rubbing alcohol before putting it in the laundry.
- For a carpet stain, use a mixture of 2 parts liquid dish soap and 1 part rubbing alcohol.