That bottle of rubbing alcohol sitting in your medicine cabinet probably only gets noticed when you’re tackling a first-aid task. But did you know this basic product, consisting of isopropyl alcohol and distilled water, has an abundant number of uses around the house?
Check out these 20 clever rubbing alcohol uses (with one bonus tip) that you may not have thought of. They just may surprise you!
20 Clever Rubbing Alcohol Uses
- Make your own hand sanitizer by mixing 2/3 cup rubbing alcohol, 1/3 cup aloe vera gel, and 8 drops of lemon, tea tree, or lavender essential oil until thoroughly combined. Pour through a funnel into a squirt top bottle.
- Armpit odors? Wipe rubbing alcohol under the arms to kill bacteria, and prevent underarm odor.
- Freshen shirt underarms with an application of isopropyl alcohol. Pour it directly on the affected area and let dry. This allows your deodorant to work much better.
- Freshen shoes: Spritz the insides of your shoes to freshen and kill odors. Allow to dry overnight.
- Treat athlete’s foot by applying rubbing alcohol to your feet once a day, after showering, and air dry.
- Fruit fly and house fly spray: Simply mix a 50/50 solution of water and rubbing alcohol in a spray bottle. Spray the clouds of those pesky pests!
- Freshen trash containers: Eliminate odors and germs in trash containers, and diaper pails by combining 2 ounces of rubbing alcohol, 4 ounces of water, and 10 to 15 drops of lemon essential oil to a spray bottle. Shake lightly before using. Spray after each emptying.
- Remove label residue from mirrors, picture frames, and repurposed bottles and jars. Just rub some alcohol with a cloth onto the sticky area.
- Clean and shine your mirrors and faucets: Add rubbing alcohol to a lint-free cloth or paper towel and wipe clean.
- Shine stainless steel appliances: Apply rubbing alcohol to a paper towel and wipe surfaces.
- Neutralize food odors in plastic food storage containers: Pour a little alcohol into the container, seal, and swish it around. Allow it to sit for a minute. Pour out alcohol, and wash the container with soap and water.
- Disinfect and clean light switches: Apply alcohol to a cloth and wipe light switches to remove germs and grime.
- Clean your eyeglasses and frames: No need to spend money on cleansing cloths which simply contain alcohol. To remove grime from the plastic and metal nose pads and screws on your eyeglass frames, wipe them down with a soft cloth and a dab of alcohol.
- Clean your workstation: Alcohol easily cleans and disinfects your computer keyboard, mousepad, and mouse. Dip a cotton swab into rubbing alcohol and wipe between the keys of your keyboard. Use a soft cloth and alcohol to wipe down any hard surfaces. The alcohol cleans and evaporates quickly. (Note: disconnect each before cleaning).
- Remove permanent marker easily: Use rubbing alcohol on a paper towel to remove permanent marker from appliances and countertops. Use to remove old marks on dry erase boards (whiteboards) too.
- Clear pimples with a dab of rubbing alcohol directly on the spot once or twice a day, to heal the infected area.
- DIY cold therapy pack: Make your own ice pack to treat sprains, falls, and other acute injuries. Add 3 cups of water, and 1 cup of rubbing alcohol to a large sealable, freezer storage bag. Add a few drops of blue food coloring, if desired. Double bag to prevent leakage. Get as much air out of the bag as possible. Label bag with a permanent marker, and store in the freezer until needed. The alcohol keeps the water in a cold slush, instead of freezing solid.
- Relieve the itch and heal insect bites with a dab of rubbing alcohol.
- DIY insect repellent: Mix 4 ounces purified water and 4 ounces of rubbing alcohol and ½ ounce of eucalyptus oil, citronella, or tea tree oil, into a spray bottle, and spray on clothing, arms, and legs, before going outdoors (safe for use on dogs). Do not spray near the eyes, or use near an open flame or fire.
- De-ice your windshield: Combine one-part water to two-parts alcohol. Spray or pour on frozen windshield to soften ice, and then scrape.
BONUS – Survival Stove: Power out after a storm? Alcohol can turn regular household items into an emergency stove to keep warm or heat water in an emergency. Here’s how: Remove the cardboard from the center of a roll of toilet paper and insert the toilet paper into a clean can. Pour rubbing alcohol into the can to saturate the paper and light. Take a look at how it’s done:
Warnings: Rubbing alcohol has many external uses, but cannot be taken internally. It is highly flammable. Do not use around an open flame or fire. Do not spray any products containing alcohol near a gas stove. Avoid contact with the eyes.
Deborah Tukua is a natural living, healthy lifestyle writer and author of 7 non-fiction books, including Pearls of Garden Wisdom: Time-Saving Tips and Techniques from a Country Home, Pearls of Country Wisdom: Hints from a Small Town on Keeping Garden and Home, and Naturally Sweet Blender Treats. Tukua has been a writer for the Farmers' Almanac since 2004.