Can I use isopropyl alcohol to clean my house?

Cleaning Tools & Supplies

Isopropyl Alcohol has an odor resembling ethanol, is volatile, and produces a cooling effect upon evaporation. When used in OTC antiseptic drug products intended for use by health care professionals, Isopropyl Alcohol kills and prevents the growth of microorganisms.

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Is cleaning with isopropyl alcohol OK?

Cleaning and organizing your home can be its own reward with the peace of mind it often brings. Isopropyl alcohol, also called isopropanol or rubbing alcohol, is one of the best ways to kill many germs quickly. Like all cleaning methods, this one has its pluses and minuses. Here are the most important:

Advantages of cleaning with isopropyl alcohol

Isopropyl alcohol kills a lot of germs

According to the CDC, isopropyl alcohol kills fungus, bacteria and viruses, including E. coli, S. aureus, and the coronavirus that causes COVID-19. The ideal concentration is 60-90%, but the CDC recommends 70% for disinfecting homes and schools. When it is diluted more than 50%, its effectiveness drops dramatically. 

Alcohol does not quite qualify for sterilizing surgical equipment because it can damage rubber and other coatings. It is, however, good enough to sterilize less-invasive medical equipment (thermometers, scissors and stethoscopes) and is excellent for countertops, toilets and sinks.

Isopropyl alcohol dries quickly

Sometimes cleaners can leave everything soggy and slippery for a long time. Alcohol dries very quickly, so you can get back to using all necessary home functions without much interruption.  

Isopropyl alcohol is almost odorless

You know that wonderful scent of lemon or pine after you’ve spent some time cleaning your home? You don’t get that with rubbing alcohol. It smells like a doctor’s office, but only briefly. 

Disadvantages of cleaning with isopropyl alcohol

Isopropyl alcohol should not be combined

If you mix rubbing alcohol with bleach, it creates chloroform, which can damage your liver, kidneys, brain and heart. Ensure your home is safe for everyone living there. Don’t mix isopropyl alcohol and bleach.

Isopropyl alcohol is flammable

Isopropyl alcohol is flammable, so use caution when cleaning the oven or stovetop. The good thing is that isopropyl alcohol evaporates very quickly. As long as you give it ample drying time, fire hazards decrease. 

Isopropyl alcohol can damage finishes

Isopropyl alcohol is not unlike other harsh cleaning agents, but it’s maybe too tough for some surfaces. If you want to clean anything porous, it might be wise to do a small test patch first, especially with wood and painted surfaces. 

Why not just use bleach?

Rubbing alcohol and bleach occupy a similar space among potential cleaning tools. They both kill a lot of germs, but bleach is much cheaper than isopropyl alcohol. Bleach is not considered flammable and rubbing alcohol is. Here are some reasons to consider cleaning with isopropyl alcohol instead of bleach:

  • Alcohol won’t damage your clothing or upholstered surfaces. Many people have specific clothes for cleaning, but if you don’t have time to change, you can end up with bleach spots on clothing you care about.
  • Alcohol is almost fragrance-free, as mentioned. The slight scent it has goes away very quickly. The same cannot be said of bleach.
  • Bleach is corrosive. It can eat through things like shower caulking quickly if not diluted properly. Alcohol has less potential for damage.

What you need to buy for cleaning with rubbing alcohol

NRG Isopropyl Alcohol

NRG Isopropyl Alcohol

There are options with higher alcohol concentrations, but this one has 70%, perfect for cleaning. 

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Elgood Latex Free Gloves

Elgood Latex Free Gloves

It’s good to be protected while cleaning with isopropyl alcohol. These gloves from Elgood are an excellent option because of the cotton lining it features.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Uineko Spray Bottles

Uineko Spray Bottles

Isopropyl alcohol is helpful for cleaning and disinfecting, so having it spray-ready is nice. These bottles offer adjustable nozzles, so you get the coverage you want.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Mr. Siga Cleaning Cloths

Mr. Siga Cleaning Cloths

Mr. Siga cloths are made of absorbent microfiber and come in various colors so you can designate specific colors for specific chemicals.  

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Micro-Scientific Disinfecting Wipes

Micro-Scientific Disinfecting Wipes

Pre-moistened wipes are great for small cleaning jobs, and these from Micro-Scientific have a nice amount of alcohol for cleaning.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Suave Hand Sanitizer Spray

Suave Hand Sanitizer Spray

Hands need cleaning too. Use this spray from Suave when you cannot wash with soap and water. The spray format makes it easy to get your hands fully covered.  

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

 

Angie Parkinson is a writer for BestReviews. BestReviews is a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money.

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