Natural Cleaning (Part 3): Rubbing Alcohol

Rubbing/Isopropyl alcohol is the perfect disinfectant to use in nearly every room of your home! And because it evaporates quickly, there is little concern for water damage, especially to sensitive electronics like keyboards.


Rubbing Alcohol: Isopropyl Alcohol

If you're avoiding regular store runs, you might be wondering how you can use the items you have on hand to clean your home. One of the best disinfectants is found in most households – rubbing alcohol.


You may already be aware that rubbing alcohol is used in hand sanitizers to neutralize germs; however, you need to use a particular kind of alcohol to truly disinfect germs that can spread infection and disease. Alcohol solutions with at least 70 percent alcohol are effective against the coronavirus and other bacteria on hard surfaces if left wet for at least 30 seconds.


Tips for disinfecting around the house:

  • First, clean the surface with water and detergent.
  • Use full strength or mix two parts alcohol to one part water in a spray bottle
  • Use in a well-ventilated area
  • Do not drink!
  • Flammable - keep it far from heat sources
  • Alcohol is generally safe for all surfaces but can discolor some plastics
  • Rubbing alcohol may remove lacquer or finish from wood
  • Do not use on delicate fabrics
  • Do not use on phone or tablet screens. Read the care instructions on consumer electronics.


While smaller items with non-porous surfaces, like house keys or a toilet handle, can often be kept wet for long enough by reapplying rubbing alcohol, it would be much harder to do on a broader surface, let alone the whole house, so you shouldn't consider cleaning your entire home with rubbing alcohol. Alcohol can evaporate off surfaces too quickly to actually neutralize the germs on that surface.

If you're wondering about sanitizing your own skin with rubbing alcohol, a word of caution: DON’T. Nothing is more effective at preventing the spread of germs than washing your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Professionals at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention maintain that hand sanitizer containing at least 60% alcohol can be used when you're outside of your home and nowhere near a sink, but using alcohol, like vodka, to clean your hands alone is absolutely not recommended.


Making Your Own Homemade Disinfectant

Mix 2 parts rubbing alcohol to 1 part water in a spray bottle, and use it to disinfect points of contact and other germy areas. You can use it directly on a cotton pad to clean your earring posts, thermometers, and any other personal items like sunglasses or keys.


  • Stainless Steel Cleaner
    • Add some rubbing alcohol to a soft, non-scratching cloth and wipe down your stainless steel appliances with it, going with the grain. It’s a great way to remove fingerprints, and it dries streak-free.

  • Remove Hair Spray from Mirrors and Tiles
    • It’s amazing how much hairspray can end up on the bathroom mirror or walls after a quick spritz. To get rid of build-up, dampen a cotton pad or cloth with rubbing alcohol and wipe away that sticky mess with ease.

  • Remove Frost from Car Windows
    • Rather than dealing with frost and ice on the car, mix 1 part rubbing alcohol to 5 parts water and spray the solution onto your exterior car windows and mirrors. Wipe with a cloth and air dry. Repeat once every two weeks to keep up its efficacy.
  • Refresh Sponges and Cloths
    • Completely saturate the sponge or cloth with rubbing alcohol in a small bowl and let sit for 10 minutes. Rinse out completely, and it will be ready to go.

  • Clean Sinks and Chrome
    • Once you’ve cleared out your stainless steel or porcelain sink, spray rubbing alcohol in the sink to not only clean and disinfect it, but to shine it up as well. Use a dry cloth to buff the sink basin as well as the chrome finishes. (It’s also safe to use on brass.)

  • Truly Clean a Dry Erase Board
    • Rather than purchasing dry-erase board cleaner, just spray rubbing alcohol on the board and easily wipe away the marks with a paper towel.

  • Remove Ink and Permanent Marker Stains
    • If you get ballpoint ink, gel ink, or permanent ink on a garment, soak the area with rubbing alcohol for a few minutes, and then blot the stain up with a clean paper towel. Launder according to the garment’s care instructions and repeat as needed. Alcohol also removes ink on countertops and tables.

  • Microfiber Sofa Stains
    • Unlike water, which will itself stain the microfiber, rubbing alcohol won’t penetrate the fabric and evaporates quickly, making it a stain-fighting ally. Spray some rubbing alcohol over the stained area and wipe with a clean sponge or cloth (ideally white to avoid color transfer). Allow to dry. If the microfiber feels matted, brush the spot in a circular motion using a soft bristle brush.

  • Disinfect your Mouse and Keyboard
    • Use rubbing alcohol as a disinfectant and as a degreaser.  It dries almost instantly, so you don’t need to worry about water damage.


For further information, please refer to the CDC’s guidelines found here:

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  • Brittany Montgomery