Rubbing alcohol is famous for being able to kill bacteria, but there are so many other uses for rubbing alcohol around your home, specifically in the realm of cleaning. One thing to note: in order for rubbing alcohol to be effective at killing bacteria it has to be at least 60% concentration by volume. So remember, as soon as you start diluting it, you’re going to dilute the amount of alcohol you have in your recipe. When you go to the store you’re going to find concentrations ranging anywhere from 70% all the way up to 99%, so, just be mindful when you’re purchasing, and mixing it, for different recipes. Ok, on to 10 rubbing alcohol hacks!
Stainless Steel Polish
If your stainless steel is streaky and you just can’t seem to get it back to that beautiful factory shine, add some rubbing alcohol to a spray bottle and simply spray it on the stainless steel—this goes for large and small appliances, think: toaster, kettle, fridge, and dishwasher. Once that’s done take a microfiber cloth and buff in an S pattern going with the grain and you’ll see that you get that nice stainless steel shine.
If you want a quick and easy way to disinfect your electronic items, specifically ones with non-porous surfaces, the easiest thing you can do is just get yourself a rubbing alcohol wipe. You can pick these up in the first-aid aisle at most pharmacies. As noted above, you should try and get ones that have at least a 70% alcohol dilution to maintain bacteria-killing efficacy. To use these, simply open and apply to any (non-porous) surfaces on your electronics, making sure that you don’t get into any of those cracks or crevices where a leak can happen (USB ports etc.).
If you don’t happen to have an icepack handy and you’re looking for a pliable icepack you can make your own in a pinch. Get yourself a zip-lock freezer bag and add a 2-to-1 ratio of water to rubbing alcohol. So, for example, if you have a 1-gallon zipper-lock bag, you can add 2 cups of water and 1 cup of rubbing alcohol. When you seal the bag, you want to make sure you get as much air out of it as possible, then stick this in the freezer. Rubbing alcohol won’t completely freeze which means you’ll get a bendable and moldable ice pack.
DIY Jewelry Cleaner
Whenever I bring home a new pair of earrings, I always clean the post and the backing with rubbing alcohol. Rubbing alcohol can do a lot more for jewelry, but, just to be clear, not for all types of jewelry; this is specifically for gold, silver, and stones that can tolerate this kind of cleaning (costume jewelry and pearls are not ok!). I know for myself, I’m constantly putting on hand cream and my rings get a little dull and lackluster over time. What I like to do it put my rings into about a 1/4 – 1/2 cup of rubbing alcohol along with a teaspoon of dish soap. I’ll stir this combo together and let everything sit for a few minutes. Then, I’ll fish them out, plug my sink, and using a cleaning toothbrush, gently scrub them. Finally, rinse under running water and pat to dry. Honestly, once this is done my rings sparkle like the night sky, like a firecracker, like the day he proposed… you pick your thing. 🙂
Now, to be clear, permanent marker is meant to be permanent, but let’s say it gets on some clothing and you really want to get rid of it. There is something you can TRY with rubbing alcohol that MIGHT work. So here’s what you do: Let’s say you get a little marker stain on a garment, start by taking a paper towel and put it under the stain (the paper towel is there to absorb the ink). Next, put some rubbing alcohol on a cleaning toothbrush and start dabbing the area around the stain in a circular pattern, making your way towards the center of the stain. The idea is that you want the rubbing alcohol to break the bond of the stain and the clothing. Once it starts working you’ll want to fold/change-out the paper towel so that the stain isn’t further saturating the garment as it comes out. Once you’ve gotten rid of as much of the stain as possible, launder the garment as usual. Again, if it doesn’t work, don’t feel too bad because permanent marker is indeed supposed to be permanent.
Glass & Mirror Cleaner
Another reason why rubbing alcohol is so great is because it is fast drying. It’s also a solvent, which means that it can dissolve sticky things. A great place to use rubbing alcohol is on glass and mirrored surfaces. Specifically, if you’re someone who likes to style your hair in front of a mirror and you use a lot of hairspray this is the solution for you! Alternatively, maybe you have some sort of sticky splatter on your windows that you just can’t seem to get rid of. Well, if it’s a centralized spot put a little bit of rubbing alcohol on a cloth and focus on that area, or, if it’s a larger mess, simply spray the surface with rubbing alcohol and let it sit for a minute, then just wipe it away.
Rubbing alcohol is great at killing bacteria, so we thought we would apply it to something that has odor-causing bacteria: sweaty, smelly running shoes. So here’s the way this is going to work. You have a pair of shoes that you love but you’re embarrassed to wear them because there’s a bit of a stench. Put some rubbing alcohol into a spray bottle, spritz the inside of the shoe liberally, and then air dry. Bonus marks if you can do this on a sunny day and let the shoes dry ion the sun—the UV rays help to knock out bacteria as well so you get a one-two punch.
If you don’t want to spend a fortune on eyeglass cleaner—and by a fortune, I mean anything more than 5 cents—you can easily make your own. Get yourself a little spray bottle, fill it 3 parts with rubbing alcohol, 1 part with water, and add a drop—and when I say a drop I mean like a teardrop size drop—of dish soap. Give that a good shake and voila, you have an eyeglass cleaner. When you’re cleaning your glasses you want to make sure that you’re using a flat weave microfiber cloth as opposed to your shirt or a paper towel which can create micro-scratches on your glasses.
Rubbing alcohol is also a terrific degreaser, so anything from a sticker to a sticky oily spot on your overhead exhaust, rubbing alcohol can deal with it. The way that you’re going to apply it is so simple. You just put a little bit on a cloth or paper towel and apply it, but you need to make sure that when you apply it the surface is fairly damp because rubbing alcohol dries quickly. Alternatively, you can spray it onto the surface and let it sit for a couple of minutes before wiping it off. Now, the one thing to know is rubbing alcohol is flammable so it’s important to make sure that when you’re using rubbing alcohol you’re not using it around an open flame.
Since we know that rubbing alcohol brings out that special shine on stainless steel and chrome, it’s also great to use on your kitchen sink. If you notice there are water spots, or you really want to get that nice beautiful shine when you finish cleaning your sink, you can finish up by adding some rubbing alcohol. You can do this either with a spray bottle or by just putting some directly on a cloth and using that to buff and shine the faucet, the fixture, and the sink itself. Now the nice side benefit of this is it’s a great way to offer 2-step cleaning in your kitchen—if you’ve cleaned your sink using regular cleaning methods, and you want to add that extra disinfecting punch, finish off with rubbing alcohol.