Five Quick Facts about Cleaning with Rubbing Alcohol

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Rubbing Alcohol – Like hydrogen peroxide, rubbing alcohol (technical name Isopropyl alcohol) is another cheap household item you may have stored away in your medicine cabinet and only take out to clean the occasional cut or blemish. And also like hydrogen peroxide, it started being produced on a regular basis in the 1920s. But just because it was being produced during prohibition and has the word alcohol in it doesn’t mean you can drink it. Read Five Quick Facts about Cleaning with Rubbing Alcohol to find out why.

Five Quick Facts about Cleaning with Rubbing Alcohol

1. Rubbing Alcohol

Rubbing alcohol does not refer to having to rub the alcohol into a stain or surface in order to clean or sanitize it. The term rubbing alcohol actually originates in prohibition-era 1920s North America. At that time, this first altered form of rubbing alcohol was used as an ointment for people’s skin, and that is where the “rubbing” comes from. Although the word “rubbing” before alcohol was supposed to deter people from drinking it, many consumed it anyway.

2. Rubbing Alcohol’s Evaporation Rate (Science 101)

If you have ever applied rubbing alcohol to a surface (including skin), you have probably noticed that it dries rapidly. This is because isopropyl alcohol (rubbing alcohol) has a lower boiling point (176 F to 181 F) than water and therefore it evaporates quicker than water. This makes rubbing alcohol great for cleaning electronics, keyboards, cellphone screens, and remote controls.

3. Rubbing Alcohol Is a Very Effective Disinfectant

Why does your nurse swab rubbing alcohol on the spot where they are going to give you a shot or draw blood? Besides rubbing alcohol having a fast evaporation rate it is also a strong disinfectant and sterilizer. It is great to use on all types of surfaces around your home because it kills viruses, bacteria, and fungi.

Click here to see what other common household items are great sterilizers.

4. Precautions When Cleaning with Rubbing Alcohol

By just looking at a bottle of unopened rubbing alcohol you wouldn’t think it would cause much harm, but there are some precautions you need to take before you use it to clean anything.

  1. If you have ever been around rubbing alcohol, the first thing you will notice is that it has a very strong unpleasant odor. This odor is so strong, inhaling it can cause nausea, vomiting, and irritation of the mouth, nose, and throat. When using rubbing alcohol to clean your home, make sure to get proper ventilation in the area where you are using it.
  2. Do not smoke or light a candle when you are cleaning with rubbing alcohol. Rubbing alcohol is highly flammable and can cause a fire quickly.
  3. Rubbing alcohol is not the type of alcohol you add to your Saturday night cocktail (the technical name for that alcohol is Ethanol). Do not drink this type of alcohol. It contains poisonous additives. If you drink it, you will get sick. Keep it out of the reach of children and pets.

5. In a Sticky Situation? Use Rubbing Alcohol to Solvent

Not only is rubbing alcohol an excellent disinfectant, but it is also an excellent solvent. It will clean ink, oil, and grease spots off fabric and other surfaces. It will also remove gum and glue.

Check out the video below to see me remove grease from my car window using rubbing alcohol.

Bonus Fact:

Isopropyl alcohol was first mass-produced by the Standard Oil Company in 1920 while they were studying the by-products of petroleum.

To learn more about how to use rubbing alcohol to clean, read our article – Can You Use Rubbing Alcohol to Clean?