While most people have rubbing alcohol in their bathroom medicine cabinet, it often tends to sit there for months and months, gathering dust and only occasionally being used to disinfect a cut or cool the heat of a fever. But rubbing alcohol has many surprising uses that go way beyond that, and as it’s rather inexpensive, you should really start taking advantage of them.
If you don’t have a bottle of this versatile liquid lying around, you can buy some from this page on Amazon.
1. A homemade ice pack
An ice pack is great to have around. They can relieve pain, swelling, and inflammation from injuries and other conditions, such as arthritis. You can make your own ice pack easily by combining one part rubbing alcohol with two parts water in a Ziploc-style freezer bag. The rubbing alcohol prevents the bag from completely freezing into a solid block of ice.
2. Stain remover
Rubbing alcohol makes for an excellent stain remover when combined with water. It’s effective for everything from coffee and wine stains to ink, so leave that pricey bottle of stain remover on the grocery store shelf, and turn to what may become your new favorite household product. Simply combine one part rubbing alcohol to two parts water in a spray bottle. If you have a large enough spray bottle, you can pour in an entire bottle of rubbing alcohol, and then fill it up with water, add, and repeat. Just spray it onto any spots and spills, allow it to sit for a few minutes and then throw into the wash as you normally would.
3. Shoe deodorizer
If your athletic shoes or sneakers start to smell funky, you can use rubbing alcohol to eradicate that unpleasant odor. In this case, add rubbing alcohol to a spray bottle without mixing water in. Spray it into the inside of the shoes, concentrating on the smelly areas, making sure they’re totally saturated. Allow them to sit overnight before wearing. In the morning, they should be dry and the smell should be gone.
4. Remove ticks
Ticks are not only annoying, they can spread diseases to both humans and animals. Fortunately, they hate alcohol, which means rubbing alcohol can help in the process of removing one. The idea is to use it to stun the tiny arachnid with the rubbing alcohol – it will then immediately lose its grip from the skin so that it can be more easily removed. To do so, douse a cotton ball with some rubbing alcohol and then gently rub it onto the area with the tick. Immediately afterward, remove it using a pair of tweezers and then spray rubbing alcohol on the wounded area to disinfect it. This can be used on animals as well as people.
5. Take hairspray off of mirrors
Whenever you spritz your hair with hairspray, some of it inevitably ends up on the mirror. It doesn’t take long before it builds up and your mirror isn’t able to do its job. While you might think you need glass cleaner to remove it, all you have to do is wipe it down with a bit of rubbing alcohol to take away the sticky residue, and voila! Your mirror is now sparkling clean.
6. Dissolve frost on your windshield
One of the worst things about an icy cold morning is having to scrape off all that frost off the windows of your vehicle. It’s bad enough having to get yourself out from under those warm, cozy covers, right? Instead of scraping and freezing yourself in the process, you could be savoring your morning coffee. Well, now you can. Just fill up a spray bottle with rubbing alcohol, spray it onto the glass and that frost will come right off.
7. Erase permanent marker
What parent hasn’t caught their little one creating “art” by decorating a countertop with a permanent marker at one point or another? If it hasn’t happened yet, it’s likely to in the future, but you don’t have to worry now. That’s because now you know that you can use rubbing alcohol to dissolve it into a liquid state – when that happens, it wipes right off.
8. A nail polish remover substitute
If you run out of nail polish remover, you can use rubbing alcohol in a pinch. It takes a little more rubbing, but it will work. Just douse a cotton ball with rubbing alcohol and rub it on the nail polish until it’s gone.
9. Cleaning garden tools
If you’ve been using your garden tools to remove any rotting, diseased or dead plants, it’s important to completely disinfect those tools or harmful bacteria will remain on the tools and get transferred to healthy plants. While there are sanitizers available on the market specifically for this purpose, they typically cost more, and you’re more likely to have rubbing alcohol on hand anyway. To disinfect them, clean them off with soap and water first, and then allow each tool to soak in rubbing alcohol for a minute or so. After it’s soaked in the rubbing alcohol, wipe it down with a clean rag and let it dry.
10. Get rid of that garlic smell
When you’re preparing a dish that calls for garlic, you’re inevitably going to get the smell of garlic on your hands, and washing with soap and water usually won’t get rid of the odor. Instead, pour rubbing alcohol onto your hands and then work it in really well. Afterward, wash your hands as usual, with warm water and soap.
11. Use it as a de-greaser
Rubbing alcohol also makes a cheap and effective de-greaser. All you need to do is pour a bit onto a clean rag and wipe down your stove. Not only is it a lot less expensive than products designed to do the same thing, it may even work better. You can use it to wipe down all of your kitchen appliances, including chrome. They’ll be clean and almost as shiny as new. You don’t even have to rinse, as the rubbing alcohol dries almost immediately after you are done.
12. Candle cleaner
If you have candles that just sit around most of the year, hanging around accumulating dust until it’s the holiday season or another special occasion, you know how bad they can get. In fact, you might have even thrown some out. But had you known that they’re easy to clean with rubbing alcohol, you could have saved the waste. Just dampen a clean rag with rubbing alcohol (before lighting them, of course as rubbing alcohol is highly flammable) and the dust wipes right off.
13. Clean bathroom fixtures
Similar to your kitchen appliances, you can use rubbing alcohol to clean chrome bathroom fixtures. Just pour some rubbing alcohol onto a soft, absorbent cloth and rub it across the fixtures. Your chrome will not only sparkle, but the alcohol kills germs along the way as well.
14. Say goodbye to fruit flies
Fruit flies can be so annoying, hovering right in front of your face, so close that you think you can easily swat them down, but that never seems to happen. Fortunately, the next time you see them, you’ll know just what to do. Have your spray bottle (fine mist is best) ready, filled with rubbing alcohol. Spray those little insects down, and they’ll immediately fall to the floor. All you have to do now is sweep them up. While it isn’t as effective as using an insecticide, it does the trick and it’s much safer than spraying poison around the kitchen.
15. Repel bed bugs
Bed bugs can turn your home from a comfortable sanctuary into a place of misery. Worse yet, the creatures are becoming increasingly resistant to common pesticides. If you catch them in time, you may be able prevent on full-on infestation, which requires an exterminator. As rubbing alcohol is a solvent, it has the ability to kill bed bugs by dissolving their cells. And, as it’s also a drying agent, it can destroy the creature’s eggs by drying them out as well. Rubbing alcohol also helps to repel them as it discourages the insects from crawling or laying eggs on a surface that’s been treated with the substance.
To get rid of bed bugs, get out your trusty spray bottle filled with alcohol, and spray a light mist onto your bed or other furnishings. Allow it to dry (it usually doesn’t take more than a few minutes), and then vacuum.
16. Fix broken eyeshadow
Cosmetics can be so expensive, and eyeshadows tend to crack or break easily. Usually, when that happens, you’ve got to throw it out and buy a new one. Don’t do that next time. Instead, fill up a spray bottle with some rubbing alcohol and then spray a little onto the eyeshadow. Use a spoon, a wooden stick or your fingers to smooth it out. Allow the eyeshadow to completely harden for several hours, and then it will be just like new.
17. Fix a Sharpie that’s dried out
If the lid was accidentally left off your Sharpie, it doesn’t take long before it dries out and is rendered unusable. Now you can fix it, as long as you have some rubbing alcohol on hand. Pour some into the cap of the Sharpie, and then dip your Sharpie into the cap. Allow it to sit in the rubbing alcohol until you can see some of the ink coming out. Then, put the cap back onto the Sharpie and leave it for at least 15 minutes before trying to use it again.
18. Treating head lice
Rubbing alcohol can also effectively kill lice and nits, and while it’s a powerful disinfectant, it’s safe to use on your hair and scalp. Do use it bend your head over a sink and pour some rubbing alcohol on your scalp. Using your fingers, spread it around your scalp, and throughout your hair. Let it sit for 15 to 20 minutes, and then rub some leave-in conditioner onto your scalp. Now, use a long-toothed comb to brush out all lice before shampooing your hair as usual. Repeat this treatment once per week for a month to ensure all lice and nits are gone. Additionally, you may want to dip your comb into rubbing alcohol every time you use it on your hair for the best results.
19. Emergency deodorant
If you find yourself out of deodorant, you can use rubbing alcohol and essential oil in a pinch instead. Add rubbing alcohol to a fine-mist spray bottle and then add 15 drops of essential oil – lavender is ideal if you have it on hand. Spray your armpits as you would normally with any deodorant, but be sure to avoid applying it right after shaving as it can be painful.
20. Clean the surface of your electronics
Electronics like computers, laptops, and especially cell phones, are a breeding ground for germs and bacteria. Disinfecting them regularly is a must, and rubbing alcohol is one of the best things you can use. Just dab some of it onto a cotton ball and use it to clean the surface of your phone, mouse, and keyboard.
21. Polishing your shoes
While rubbing alcohol can help with the process of polishing your shoes, it doesn’t do the trick alone. Instead, you’ll need a regular shoe polisher, but before using it first, rub your shoes with undiluted rubbing alcohol and the polish will go on much smoother, making your shoes look shiny and new.
22. Removing grass stains
Grass stains are particularly stubborn, they can be really challenging to get out, but rubbing alcohol can come to the rescue again. Just rub some into the grass stain and allow it to sit for 10 minutes before laundering as usual.
23. Remove stickers
Have you ever tried to get a price tag or another type of sticker off something like a picture frame or a glass? It sometimes seems impossible to get the whole thing off without leaving the sticky residue behind. To do so, pour some rubbing alcohol on it first and then let it sit for 10 minutes. Because rubbing alcohol is a dissolvent, that sticker will peel off with ease.