House & Home

Household Uses for Rubbing Alcohol

Posted Updated

I discovered the wonders of rubbing alcohol as a cleaning agent myself, when I tried using an alcohol pad to remove the label from a glass jar. You know the sticky goo that is left over when you remove the paper label from a glass jar? I found that rubbing alcohol took it off with minimal elbow grease.

Although it's not perfect for every cleaning job (hello, washing dishes), rubbing alcohol is a fairly cheap and relatively environmentally-friendly solution to some tough cleaning challenges. Most people keep a bottle of it in the bathroom, and if you don't it would behoove you to keep a bottle of rubbing alcohol in stock for cleaning tasks. One of its more attractive attributes is how fast rubbing alcohol evaporates. Although it has that initial "hospital" smell, rubbing alcohol evaporates quickly and does not leave a lingering odor, unlike vinegar. It is also suitable for cleaning surfaces that cannot be cleaned with acids, such as granite counter tops.

Although rubbing alcohol off gasses quickly, prolonged exposure to isopropyl alcohol fumes is not recommended. Bear in mind that it's not drinkable, and should be stored out of reach of children. Also, do not use rubbing alcohol to clean near open flames or near extreme heat; it's flammable. With all that said, here are ten ways to use rubbing alcohol around the house.

DIY Granite Cleaner: The always charming blogger Made From Pinterest described her success making DIY granite cleaner out of rubbing alcohol, dishwashing soap, water, and essential oil. Since acidic cleaning agents can cause pock marks in granite, and ammonia-based cleaners can strip the seal off of them, rubbing alcohol solutions are an inexpensive, effective way to clean granite counter tops.
Remove Nail Polish from Wood Floors: I am not sure how frequently people spill nail polish on laminate floors or wood floors, or how often flooring contractors get called to repair wood that nail polish has spilled on. Apparently it happens enough that blogger Anna Mosely posted a tip on about how to use rubbing alcohol to remove nail polish stains from wood or laminate floors. She claims (with pictures!) that it works better than acetone or oil-based substances.
Clean Garden Tools: Plant diseases can be transmitted from one plant to the next by garden tools. Four Season Garden and Landscaping, a landscaping company in Atlanta, suggests disinfecting garden tools like pruners with rubbing alcohol when changing between plants.
Clean Windows With Rubbing Alcohol: Whether you use it mixed simply with water, or mixed into a custom DIY window cleaning solution, rubbing alcohol cleans windows like a champ. There are more rubbing alcohol window cleaning ideas out there than I can link to. Google it and find one that looks good to you.
Clean Venetian Blinds With Rubbing Alcohol: Reader's Digest suggests cleaning Venetian blinds with rubbing alcohol. They say you can easily remove dirt and dust by wrapping a paint scraper in a cloth, securing the cloth with a rubber band, and dipping the cloth into rubbing alcohol.
Clean Your Cell Phone With Rubbing Alcohol Pads: Your smart phone is a basically a poop stick. I personally clean my smart phone with rubbing alcohol pads, you know, the ones that diabetics use to prep their fingers with before doing home blood tests. Rub an alcohol pad or two over the surface of your smart phone, then let it dry. Buff off the weird white film that it will leave with a paper towel. Alcohol prep pads are very handy to keep around for small cleaning jobs like this.
Bust Grime and Sticky Goo With Rubbing Alcohol: Sometimes it is enough to rub an alcohol pad on sticker goo. For bigger jobs, soak the goo-covered object in a bowl of rubbing alcohol, then scrub with a scrub pad. The label goo should slide right off.
Clean a Pipe: Apparently, people still smoke pipes. If you are inclined to look and smell like Sherlock Holmes and your pipe cleaner isn't cutting the mustard, quite a few commenters in the Pipes Magazine forum suggest cleaning a pipe with rubbing alcohol.
Remove Permanent Marker With Rubbing Alcohol: Rubbing alcohol is a decent solvent for permanent marker graffiti. Rub a cloth saturated in rubbing alcohol on the permanent marker graffiti from wood surfaces.
Clean Electronics With Rubbing Alcohol: Crunchy Betty, an experienced DIY cleaning product maker for both home and body, posted a detailed article on how to clean computers with rubbing alcohol. You basically make a spray of rubbing alcohol and distilled water, and you spray it onto a soft cloth and then gently wipe the screen. Never spray directly onto electronic equipment, and only use distilled water in the solution.
Chaya Kurtz writes for