A typical household chemical, rubbing alcohol, is a staple in most all households today. It has several benefits, including those of cleaning the house or for use in personal care. However, if used incorrectly, the results can produce serious side effects, the least of which can be irritation of the skin and poisoning.
For the purpose of this article, we are going take a look at eleven known beneficial uses of alcohol, as well as six situations when its use should be absolutely avoided at all cost.
Common Uses for Rubbing Alcohol
It is common practice, when we discover a tick on our person – which means we find a tic on our body, to quickly remove it with a pair of tweezers. Following the tick’s removal, it is suggested to place some rubbing alcohol on the spot to aid in disinfecting the bite. This is done by applying some rubbing alcohol to a cotton swab and dab it several times on the area was the tick was attached. Now if you were my mom, you would just pour it from the bottle on the wound directly as you held your body part over the bathroom or kitchen sink. This method is also effective. It also works with peroxide.
The American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) offers that rubbing alcohol can clean the area of skin around newly pierced ears. Simply place a cotton ball or pad into some rubbing alcohol, and proceed to wipe gently the front as and the back of the piercing in the ear – or wherever the piercing is actually. Back in the day it was usually the ears, but these days it can be most any part of the body. To help aid in the prevention of scabbing and bacterial infections, this process is recommended to be done twice a day.
Rubbing alcohol is a natural killer of the bacteria that causes odor. To aid in the elimination of body odors, an individual can apply rubbing alcohol to their underarm pit areas. However, it is not advised to apply the alcohol following soon after shaving, as this will cause excessive stinging. Now, having said this, you will smell like alcohol, but not body odor.
We all have that one pair of nasty shoes that we either exercise in or wear during excessive physical activity. And as such, we also know how much they stink. However, we can control the highly offensive odor by spraying the insoles with rubbing alcohol, which will aid in eliminating the bacteria responsible for the smell. You will then leave the shoes in a sunny area, allowing them time to dry sufficiently.
For a more natural room deodorize, simply pour rubbing alcohol into a bottle and add a few drops of your favorite essential oil. You can then spray the solution in those areas of your home that present with unpleasant odors. Just be sure that the essential oils are pet friendly if you have a furry friend around the house.
With the combination of rubbing alcohol and water, one can a malleable and reusable ice pack. To make the ice pack:
- Taking a sealable freezer bag, mix 2 cups of water with 1 cup of 70% rubbing alcohol.
- Push down on the bag, removing as much air as possible, and then seal the bag.
- Place this bag, and place it inside another freezer bag, again pushing out as much air as possible before sealing this second bag.
- Place in freezer for several hours
Once allow time to “freeze,” the ice pack is then ready to be used on sore joints or muscles, or to aid in the relief of pain and inflammation
Cleansing and Disinfecting
When it comes to the process of cleaning and disinfecting of hard surfaces, rubbing alcohol is effective against almost, but not all, germs and viruses. The main ingredient, isopropyl alcohol, is what provides rubbing alcohol with its germ and virus-fighting ability. Depending on the product, most rubbing alcohols can contain anywhere from 60% to 99% of isopropyl alcohol. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in order for rubbing alcohol to be an effective cleaner and disinfectant, it needs to have an isopropyl alcohol content of between 60-90%. Do not dilute the alcohol as this will reduce the concentration and its ability to be effective in its killing of pathogens.
Cloths and Sponges
Rubbing alcohol is an efficient disinfectant for household items, including those items as cleaning cloths and kitchen sponges. Placing the cloth or sponge in a sealable container, pour rubbing alcohol over the item to cover it thoroughly. It should then soak for several minutes up to several hours.
Alcohol, by its very nature, evaporates and dries quickly. For this reason, it is perfect for cleaning and disinfecting of phones, laptops, tablets, and other electronic devices. Keep in mind, when cleaning electronics with rubbing alcohol, it is best to use one with 99% isopropyl alcohol content. Apply a small amount to either a paper towel or a clean, lint-free cloth, and gently wipe it across the electronic device.4
When we wear our jewelry regularly, it builds up layers of bacteria and grime. To keep your jewelry more hygienic, it is suggested that it is cleaned with rubbing alcohol. Apply a small amount of alcohol to either a soft cloth or a cotton swab. Then gently rub the jewelry surface, in an effort to loosen and remove both dirt and grime.
Studies on the effects of various aromatherapy ingredients for the treatment of nausea and vomiting after surgery showed the effectiveness of the use of rubbing alcohol. By rapidly inhaling the vapor of rubbing alcohol, not only was nausea symptoms alleviated, but no additional anti-nausea drugs were needed. However, the studies were reviewed to be of low to medium quality, and as such more studies are needed to confirm the findings officially.
Situations to Avoid Using Rubbing Alcohol
Rubbing alcohol is to be avoided as an addition to bathing water. Prolonged exposure to the chemical can result in the alcohol being absorbed through the skin, which can lead to toxicity.
Although rubbing alcohol does give a cooling feeling on the skin, it does not work to lower body temperature. As such, it is not suggested as an effective fever treatment.
Rubbing alcohol, by its nature, will cause the skin to become dry. For this reason, it will cause acne to become worse. It is also known to increase both the severity and frequency of breakouts.
Rubbing alcohol is indeed capable of the killing of lice; it should not be used as it also presents with various adverse reactions to your scalp.
Because it does not kill bacterial spores effectively enough, the CDC states rubbing alcohol is not suitable for the sterilizing of medical and surgical equipment.
A small amount of rubbing alcohol taken internally has shown to cause minimal symptoms. However, if ingested in large quantities, it could result in both poisoning and serious illness.
Rubbing alcohol, if used properly and under the correct conditions, and prove to be a handy chemical to have around the home. However, if not used in the proper manner, it can also be very dangerous and, in some cases, life-threatening. As with all household chemicals, rubbing alcohol is to be stored out of the reach of both children and pets.
Hair or Head Cleanser
Uses for rubbing alcohol are many. There have been some to steer clear of too. This one is no different. There are some salons that use rubbing alcohol to clean a scalp of build up from cheap hair products. This is not advisable as it can produce a sensitive scalp and cause break outs as well as a scalp that is sensitive to other products moving forward.