Can You Drink Rubbing Alcohol? Find Out the Truth

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Without smelling rubbing alcohol and just looking at it, you can easily confuse it with water. While some individuals use it as a substitute for alcoholic drinks (ethanol), it is still unsafe. Can you drink rubbing alcohol, you ask? The quick answer is yes, but we highly recommend you don’t.

Drinking rubbing alcohol may feel pleasant for alcoholic individuals, but it is harmful and life-threatening to consume in any way.

Whether you are just curious whether it’s safe to drink rubbing alcohol or trying to get drunk with it, here is everything you must know about rubbing alcohol and the dangers of consuming it. 

What Is Rubbing Alcohol?

Rubbing alcohol is a diluted type of isopropyl alcohol. It contains 70% alcohol and 30% water. Isopropyl, on the other hand, is 100% alcohol.

Rubbing alcohol cleans minor wounds or cuts. If you have ever had a shot or blood drawn at the hospital, they use rubbing alcohol to sterilize your skin, where they will insert the needle. Most people store it in their first aid kit at home.

Rubbing alcohol is typically used at home as a disinfectant. You can also clean frequently touched items like cell phones, TV remote controls, computer keyboards, etc.

Rubbing alcohol is great for cleaning and disinfecting your electronics. Read our guide – Tech Hygiene 101: Can You Use Rubbing Alcohol to Clean Electronics? to learn how to and how often you should clean them.

Why Do People Drink Rubbing Alcohol?

Most people, especially alcoholics, drink rubbing alcohol because it is stronger than ethanol (the intoxicating agent made of distillation and sugar fermentation), usually found in alcoholic beverages. Rubbing alcohol can easily make one intoxicated or, in worse cases, harm themselves. 

Most consumers of rubbing alcohol are people suffering from alcoholism. Their condition makes them want to crave more robust substances to feel the pleasure of being intoxicated. Consumers often tend to substitute rubbing alcohol with ethanol because it is more affordable and available.

What Happens If You Drink Rubbing Alcohol?

Hand Sanitizer Contains Rubbing Alcohol

Consuming any amount of rubbing alcohol can harm you. It can burn sensitive tissues in your throat and airway, causing unbearable pain. Large doses of rubbing alcohol can even lead to heart attack, seizures, and plummeting blood pressure.

Drinking too much rubbing alcohol can also cause alcohol poisoning. Its symptoms will begin 30 to 60 minutes after drinking it. Here are the signs of rubbing alcohol poisoning.

  • Abdominal pain
  • Coma
  • Dehydration
  • Diarrhea
  • Difficulty of breathing
  • Dizziness,
  • Headache
  • Hypothermia
  • Low blood pressure
  • Shock
  • Unresponsiveness

If left untreated, alcohol poisoning can cause organ damage, bladder rupture, and even death. 

Can You Drink Rubbing Alcohol to Get Drunk?

Yes, you can get drunk from rubbing alcohol. Many alcoholic individuals prefer to drink it because it allows them to achieve a certain level of intoxication quickly.

Even so, it is not advisable to consume it. After all, its primary use is to disinfect rather than intoxicate.

If someone drinks rubbing alcohol, they will experience the desired effects, like drinking ethanol alcohol, but possibly sooner due to its potency. Even if you only drink a small amount, you will feel the results in a heartbeat. It can easily make you drunk but may cause potentially fatal complications.

Can You Dilute Rubbing Alcohol with Water to Safely Drink It?

It is never safe to drink rubbing alcohol, even when diluted with water. The type of alcohol in which rubbing alcohol is made is metabolized differently than the alcohol found in wine, beer, and other liquor.

According to a study, even drinking a small amount of rubbing alcohol is harmful and can cause potentially fatal consequences. So, even if you dilute rubbing alcohol with a considerable amount of water, it can be potentially deadly. As little as 8 ounces of rubbing alcohol can be lethal. 

Can You Boil Rubbing Alcohol and Safely Drink It?

Even if you boil rubbing alcohol, it is never safe to drink. Yes, boiling rubbing alcohol can reduce the concentration of alcohol, leaving you with a greater volume of water. But it is still not safe to consume. The reason why people boil rubbing alcohol is for sanitation purposes.

Boiled rubbing alcohol is more effective in cleaning greasy equipment. It is also efficient in removing stains. However, using boiled rubbing alcohol for cleaning or disinfecting is less efficient than it may seem. You can use boiling water alone to disinfect or clean the house or equipment.

What is the Difference Between Rubbing Alcohol and Regular Alcohol?

Anyone drinking rubbing alcohol is very desperate or has forgotten that the alcohol in rubbing alcohol is not the same alcohol contained in alcoholic beverages. Rubbing alcohol is made of isopropyl alcohol.

The mind and mood-altering substance from which beverages like beer and wine are made is ethyl alcohol. Ethyl alcohol is a nervous system depressant that can lead to physical dependence and addiction if abused.

Rubbing alcohol or isopropyl alcohol, however, is colorless and smells like a nail polish remover. It has household uses and skin uses as paint thinners, household cleaners, wound cleaners, hand sanitizers, and in hospitals as an antiseptic.

Moreover, as said earlier, drinking as little as 8 ounces of rubbing alcohol can be toxic. On the other hand, regular alcohol or ethyl alcohol contains low volumes of alcohol, and your body metabolizes it.

Thus, the biggest difference is ethyl alcohol, when not abused, is not detrimental to the body. It is, therefore, safe for human consumption, unlike rubbing alcohol.

How to Use Rubbing Alcohol Effectively

Using Isopropyl Alcohol to Clean and Disinfect a Cell Phone

Rubbing alcohol is a household chemical. Using this substance other than cleaning or disinfecting can cause serious side effects. Now that you know that it’s not safe to drink rubbing alcohol, it’s time to learn better ways to use this solution.

Home Deodorizer

You can use rubbing alcohol as a deodorizer. Put the substance in a spray bottle and add essential oil. Spray it all over the house to remove bad odors.

Window Cleaner

Rubbing alcohol effectively cleans mirrors, windows, and other glass surfaces like cell phones, computers, tablets, and TV screens.

Learn how to use alcohol to clean glass by reading our post – Five Ways to Use Alcohol for Cleaning Glass

Disinfecting and Cleaning Hard Surfaces

Rubbing alcohol can disinfect and clean hard surfaces but is not effective on all pathogens. Use rubbing alcohol as is, and don’t use diluted rubbing alcohol because it is less effective for killing pathogens. Rubbing alcohol cleans grease, ink, and oil spots off hard surfaces. Watch the video below to see me remove grease from a car window using rubbing alcohol.

Disinfect Cloths and Sponges

Rubbing alcohol can disinfect household items such as cleaning cloths and kitchen or bathroom sponges. Just pour the rubbing alcohol solution onto the items and allow it to soak for several minutes before using them.

Sanitizes Electronic Devices

Rubbing alcohol evaporates quickly and can clean and sanitize pathogens on laptops, tablets, phones, and other devices. To use the solution, pour a small amount of rubbing alcohol into a cloth or paper towel and gently wipe it on the electronic device.

Read our guide – Tech Hygiene 101: Can You Use Rubbing Alcohol to Clean Electronics? to learn how to and how often you should clean your electronic devices


As you have read, rubbing alcohol is not for human consumption. Instead, it’s for household cleaning and personal care. These uses include eliminating odors, sanitizing equipment, and cleaning and disinfecting household items and surfaces.

To effectively use rubbing alcohol, read our guide above and avoid drinking or inhaling rubbing alcohol because it can cause serious side effects.

Store rubbing alcohol in a safe area where children can’t access it. If anyone in the house, especially a child, drinks rubbing alcohol, call 911 immediately.

To learn more about cleaning with rubbing alcohol, read our article: Can You Use Rubbing Alcohol to Clean?