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.
16. Prevent Sweat Stains
To prevent sweat stains, wipe some rubbing alcohol on your armpits and neck before dressing. You can also apply alcohol to stained clothing using the same technique as the ink treatment above.
17. Dissolve Windshield Frost
Use this trick on regular windows and windshields alike!
To prevent frost:
- Wash your windows with a solution of 1/2 cup rubbing alcohol to 1 quart (1 liter) water to prevent the frost.
- Polish the windows with newspaper after you wash them to make them shine.
To remove frost:
- Fill a spray bottle with rubbing alcohol and spritz the car glass.
- Wipe the frost right off and start the car.
18. Kill Nail Fungus
- Mix equal amounts of rubbing alcohol and white vinegar.
- Soak a thick pad of cotton in the solution and place it over the infected toenail.
- Wrap it with a small bandage or tape to keep the cotton pad in place.
- Allow it to sit for about 30 to 45 minutes.
- Finish by gently scrubbing the toenail with a soft-bristled toothbrush, then rinse the area.
- Use this remedy once daily for several days.
19. Soothe Mosquito Bites
To relieve the itching and swelling of mosquito bites, look no further than your first aid kit! Being a natural antiseptic agent, rubbing alcohol also reduces the chance of developing an infection.
Here’s how to do it:
- Apply some rubbing alcohol directly onto the affected site.
- Massage the area gently for 1 minute.
- Wait 10 minutes, then rinse off the area with cool water.
- Finish by applying some fresh aloe vera gel.
- Repeat as needed
21. Jewelry Cleaner
Jewelry cleaners aren’t easy to find, but there are household products that can to the job.
This trick is safe for platinum, silver, genuine gold, silver-plated, titanium, tungsten and stainless steel jewelry. Precious stones are also safe. However, acrylic, semi-precious stones, and pearls should not be cleaned using rubbing alcohol (8).
How to use:
- Place the jewelry in a clean, non-porous bowl and pour in the alcohol until the jewelry is completely submerged.
- Let the jewelry sit in the alcohol overnight and use the tip of a cotton swab or a soft cloth to try to rub away some of the grime.
- If the grime is still hard to remove, let it soak longer and try again. Do not scrub the grime with a brush if you are trying to clean metal or silver, as these two metals are soft and will scratch easily. For hard metals (like stainless steel and tungsten) and gemstones with crevices and engravings, scrub gently with a soft toothbrush.
- Wipe the jewelry with a lint-free cloth to lightly polish it after cleaning.
22. Fight Foot Odor
To fight stinky feet, spray the soles of your shoes with rubbing alcohol mixed with a few drops of lavender essential oil. Place in a sunny spot to dry.
23. Stretch Out Shoes
To stretch out cloth shoes, apply a thin coat of rubbing alcohol to the interior and exterior of the shoes, then place them on a shoe stretcher.
24. DIY Air Freshener
Swap out the toxic Febreze with your own mix of 1 cup rubbing alcohol with 10-15 drops of essential oil. Spray in a well-ventilated area.
25. Clean Windows
Skip out on the Windex thanks to this simple mixture.
Here’s how to do it:
- Pour 2 cups of distilled water in a spray bottle.
- Add ¼ cup each of rubbing alcohol and white vinegar in it.
- Add 1 tablespoon of cornstarch and mix it well.
- Spray this solution on your mirrors and glasses and then wipe them clean using a lint-free cloth.
26. Treat Poison Ivy
Poison ivy, poison oak, and poison sumac are plants that can cause a non-contagious itchy rash upon contact (9). Isopropyl alcohol will provide instant relief thanks to its soothing and cooling properties.
How to use it:
- Saturate a paper towel with rubbing alcohol.
- Use it to gently wipe the affected area.
- When the area is completely dry, wash it with soap and warm water.
- Do this several times a day for 2 to 3 days.
27. Soothe Muscle Aches
Rubbing alcohol soothes sore muscles and joints. While it isn’t a long-term solution, it’s great for short-term relief.
Here’s how to do it:
- Apply some rubbing alcohol on your aching muscles.
- Massage gently in circular motions for 10 minutes.
- Wrap the area with a warm cloth for at least 30 minutes.
- Repeat 2 or 3 times a day.
What is rubbing alcohol used for? Well, now you know that it has over 27 therapeutic uses. Which remedy will you try first?