7 Handy Ways to Use Rubbing Alcohol Around the House

bottle of rubbing alcohol

The Spruce / Ana Cadena

That bottle of isopropyl or rubbing alcohol in your medicine cabinet can be used throughout the house to remove stains, create homemade cleaning solutions, disinfect surfaces, and even freshen the air. Isopropyl alcohol has long been a staple for disinfecting home medical or personal hygiene equipment like thermometers and tweezers, but it is also a useful product when meeting the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's standards of cleaning.

It's time to put that bottle to work around the house with these seven handy household uses for rubbing alcohol.

Before You Begin

Isopropyl alcohol is offered to consumers in two levels of concentration: 70 percent and 99 percent. 70 percent is best for household uses. The solution has more water which helps it to dissolve more slowly to break apart stain and grease molecules and penetrate and kill bacteria.

If you are counting on the rubbing alcohol to act as a disinfectant, the alcohol content must be at least 70 percent in any homemade alcohol-based cleaner to be effective as a disinfectant. However, The disinfecting power of rubbing alcohol drops at concentrations higher than 80-85 percent.  

  • 01 of 07

    Remove Permanent Marker

    removing permanent marker

    The Spruce / Ana Cadena

    Permanent marker isn't always as permanent as the name suggests. Use rubbing alcohol to remove it from hard surfaces such as laminate countertops and hard plastic items, wood furniture, fabrics, and painted walls.

    1. Place some rubbing alcohol on an old cloth or paper towel.
    2. Start at the outside of the stain and work toward the center to prevent spreading the ink.
    3. Dab and blot.
    4. Move to a clean area of the towel as the ink is transferred.
    5. Keep working slowly until all of the ink is gone.

    Tip

    If you are working on fabric or a porous surface, place an old towel under the item to help absorb the ink and to prevent it from staining your work surface.

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  • 02 of 07

    Clean Windows and Mirrors

    cleaning a mirror with rubbing alcohol

    The Spruce / Ana Cadena 

    Rubbing alcohol makes a wonderful window and mirror cleaner because it cuts through any build-up like hairspray, toothpaste, and grease.

    1. Make homemade glass cleaner by pouring one cup of rubbing alcohol, one cup of distilled water, and one tablespoon of vinegar into a spray bottle.
    2. Shake to mix and label the bottle.
    3. The solvent-based alcohol will evaporate quickly eliminating streaks and spots.
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  • 03 of 07

    Remove Water Spots and Fingerprints

    cleaning spots of of sink hardware

    The Spruce / Ana Cadena

    Rid faucets and bathroom fixtures of water spots by wiping them down with a cloth dampened with a few drops of rubbing alcohol. The alcohol breaks down the minerals in the water that left the telltale spots on chrome fixtures.

    For stainless steel sinks and appliances, dampen a paper towel or microfiber cloth with rubbing alcohol and wipe following the grain of the metal to remove fingerprints and smudges.

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  • 04 of 07

    Sanitize Electronic Devices

    cleaning a cell phone with rubbing alcohol

    The Spruce / Ana Cadena

    Cellphones, computer keyboardsearbuds, game controllers, and other high-use electronic gadgets harbor lots of bacteria and grime from our hands. While you should consult the manufacturer before using any cleaning product, a lint-free microfiber cloth dampened with a few drops of isopropyl alcohol will greatly reduce the number of bacteria on the surfaces and remove built-up dirt.

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  • 05 of 07

    Degrease Your Kitchen

    person preparing to clean the kitchen with rubbing alcohol

    The Spruce / Ana Cadena

    Tackle that grease buildup on your stovetop, counters, and cabinets with a rubbing alcohol solution. The alcohol works as a solvent to cut through the grease and it will dry quickly leaving the surfaces squeaky clean.

    1. Mix equal parts hot water and isopropyl (rubbing) alcohol in a sink or container.
    2. Dip a clean sponge or soft cloth into the solution, and wipe away the grease.
    3. Dip a fresh sponge or cloth in plain warm water, and rinse the area.
    4. Use a microfiber cloth to dry the surfaces to a streak-free shine.
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  • 06 of 07

    Make Your Own Air Freshener

    homemade room spray using rubbing alcohol

    The Spruce / Ana Cadena

    Freshen the air in your home with a rubbing alcohol-based room spray that you made yourself. All you need is water, rubbing alcohol, your favorite essential oil, and a misting bottle.

    1. Fill the bottle 75 percent full with water and 25 percent rubbing alcohol.
    2. Add 10-20 drops of essential oil.
    3. Cap the bottle and shake well to combine the ingredients.
    4. You can mix and match the scented oils to match your tastes and the season.
    Continue to 7 of 7 below.
  • 07 of 07

    Make Homemade Upholstery Cleaner

    spray cleaner made from rubbing alcohol

    The Spruce / Ana Cadena 

    The upholstery on our furniture and vehicle seats takes a beating from food and drink spills, pets, and general soil. Regular cleaning helps prevent excessive wear and helps keep stains under control. You can make a rubbing alcohol-based upholstery cleaner for fabrics that should only be cleaned with a dry cleaning or water-free solvent to remove stains and soils.

    1. Pour two cups of alcohol into a spray bottle and label it.
    2. Lightly spritz the fabric starting at the top of a cushion or section.
    3. While the fabric is damp, use a soft-bristled brush to remove the soil.
    4. Rinse the brush frequently in plain water and shake it to remove as much moisture as possible before continuing to clean.
    5. Allow the fabric to air-dry.

    Warning

    Do not use rubbing alcohol or any dry-cleaning solvent around open flames. Turn on fans and open windows to provide good ventilation.

Originally written by
Erin Huffstetler
Erin Huffstetler is a frugal living expert who has been writing for over 10 years about easy ways to save money at home. She's covered money-saving advice and tricks for numerous publications, including The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, and Forbes, among others. She is the owner of "My Frugal Home," a money-saving, frugal living how-to guide.
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Article Sources
The Spruce uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Chemical Disinfectants. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

  2. Cleaning for a Healthy Home. UMN Extension.