10 Ways to Clean with Rubbing Alcohol!

In my opinion, rubbing alcohol is one of the most underrated cleaning products in the world. But don’t look for it in the cleaning aisle—it’s usually kept in the first-aid section of stores, because isopropyl alcohol also acts as an effective disinfectant for cuts.

Ethanol or isopropyl alcohol are commonly used as the primary ingredient in rubbing alcohol (the other ingredient being denatured alcohol). But to keep things simple, let’s just call it rubbing alcohol (surgical spirit in the UK and Ireland). Before we get down to its cleaning capabilities, a few cautions: First, its fumes are quite powerful, so always use it in a well-ventilated area. Second, both alcohol and its fumes are flammable, so keep it far from heat sources—don’t use it on your oven or toaster! Oh, and despite its name, this stuff isn’t a party in a bottle, so don’t add it to your cocktails!

Looking for a DIY Homemade Hand Sanitizer Recipe? Check it out!

Alcohol is a solvent, meaning it dissolves dirt and oil. It also dries almost instantly, which does come in handy, as you’re about to see. It has many, many uses around the home, and today, I’m going to share my 10 favorites with you.

10 Great Uses for Rubbing Alcohol

Homemade Disinfectant

Mix 2 parts rubbing alcohol to 1 part water in a spray bottle, and use it to disinfect points of contact and other germy areas. You can even use it directly on a cotton pad to clean your earring posts, thermometers, and any other personal items.

Stainless Steel Cleaner

Add some rubbing alcohol to a soft, non-scratching cloth and wipe down your stainless steel appliances with it, going with the grain. It’s a great way to remove fingerprints, and it dries streak-free.

Maker's Microfiber Cleaning Cloths

Remove Hair Spray from Mirrors and Tiles

It’s amazing how much hairspray can end up on the bathroom mirror or walls after a quick spritz. To get rid of build-up, dampen a cotton pad or cloth with rubbing alcohol and wipe away that sticky mess with ease.

Remove Frost from Car Windows

This one is genius for those of us in cold climates. Rather than dealing with frost and ice on the car, mix 1 part rubbing alcohol to 5 parts water and spray the solution onto your exterior car windows and mirrors. Wipe with a cloth, and allow to dry. Repeat once every two weeks to keep up its efficacy. (Anything that keeps me from having to scrape ice off my windshield in the cold Canadian winter is worth the effort, in my book.)

Refresh Sponges and Cloths

If I wanted to make you really uncomfortable right now, I’d ask you to put your sponge under a microscope. Instead, I’ll spare you, since cleaning a sponge or kitchen cloth is really easy! Completely saturate the sponge or cloth with rubbing alcohol in a small bowl and let sit for 10 minutes. Rinse out completely, and it will be ready to go. For quick cleaning of your previously unwashed cleaning tools, spray them with rubbing alcohol before use.

If you’re looking for quality microfiber cloths that will last, then you have to check out Maker’s Clean Premium Cloth Bundle!

Clean Sinks and Chrome

Once you’ve cleared out your stainless steel or porcelain sink, spray rubbing alcohol in the sink to not only clean and disinfect it, but to shine it up as well. Use a dry cloth to buff the sink basin as well as the chrome finishes. (It’s also safe to use on brass.)

Really, Truly, Clean a Dry Erase Board

When you’ve left dry-erase marker on a whiteboard for too long, you know what happens—it converts to permanent marker! Rather than purchasing dry-erase board cleaner, just spray rubbing alcohol on the board and easily wipe away the marks with a paper towel.

Remove Ink and Permanent Marker Stains

Yes, even permanent marker! If you get ballpoint ink, gel ink, or permanent ink on a garment, soak the area with rubbing alcohol for a few minutes, then blot the stain up with a clean paper towel. Launder according to the garment’s care instructions and repeat as needed.

Microfiber Sofa Stains

Unlike water, which will itself stain the microfiber, rubbing alcohol won’t penetrate the fabric and evaporates quickly, making it a stain-fighting ally. Spray some rubbing alcohol over the stained area and wipe with a clean sponge or cloth (ideally white to avoid color transfer). Allow to dry. If the microfiber feels matted, brush the spot in a circular motion using a soft bristle brush.

Disinfect your Mouse and Keyboard

Use rubbing alcohol as a disinfectant and as a degreaser!  It dries almost instantly, so you don’t need to worry about water damage. Watch our videos on how to clean electronics.

If you’re looking for more secrets, I’ve got way more than 10,000 hours of cleaning experience in both practice and theory, so I’m proud to introduce you to my secret 3 Wave Cleaning System—clean faster and more efficiently than you ever have before!

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Looking for a BETTER & EASIER Way to Clean Your Home?

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Melissa Maker is an entrepreneur, cleaning expert, founder of Toronto’s most popular boutique cleaning service, and star of the Clean My Space channel on YouTube (but she still hates to clean!). Every week, Melissa delivers new videos dishing expert advice on cleaning products, tools, DIY substitutes, and practical, timesaving solutions to everyday problems. Melissa has appeared on the Today Show, and has been featured in InStyle, Real Simple, and Better Homes and Gardens.


  1. So I have got some new dyes and some rubbing alcohol. I let the dyes bloom and then let them dry. Upon mixing all the ingredients, everything went well until I sprayed the alcohol on top. Spraying and mixing until the mix holds, just like with water. The first bomb goes fine, but the next one doesn’t. As time goes on, the mixture seems to get wetter and wetter. Why is this happening to me?

    • Hi James, it sounds like you need to talk to someone experienced in dyes. This is beyond my area of expertise, good luck!

  2. Hi Someone help me how to remove any stain from clothes and hands not damaging them
    Oil grease,coffee,ink, blood, varnish, color dye, stains etc etc

  3. In all the comments and questions I didn’t see where anyone addressed whether it’s safe to simply let the alcohol dry on a surface and be pet safe. Does it need to be rinsed after it dries or will the surface be safe after completely drying for a kitty who likes to stick her paws in her water dish to then walk across that dried surface that’s been wiped with alcohol?

    • yes and no.

      IPA is volatile enough and leaves little to no residue. wipe it with a rag or microfiber cloth or be sure it is dry before your kitten can approach the surface. that said, however, for whatever reason DO NOT let your kitten lick the solvent. IPA is not metabolised by the liver (or better, it is oxidised into acetone) and will cause serious troubles even in small dosage. I recommend using a different cleaner, soapy water, or any multi-surface spray and a good rinse with clean water. IPA should be left for cleaning sensors, printed circuit boards, and precision optics. Also known as “rubbing” alcohol, although even there you have better solutions in my eyes.

  4. Hi Melissa,

    In your video, what percentage of rubbingn alcohol are you using and then diluting? I want to make sure that I’m using the correct mixture.


  5. Since sponges are so very germy, I don’t understand why people use them. Use microfiber cloths and wash them without fabric softener . Much more sanitary! Plus they work better than any sponge.

    Alcohol fumes can be very harmful but alcohol is a great cleaner . Being aware is the key asking with good ventilation while using. No flames including pilot lights on gas stoves!

  6. Alcohol is the one thing I didn’t try for cleaning my stainless. I ended up buying stainless steel cleaning wipes. They work like a charm, but are pricey. I’ll have to give RA a shot.

    Cleaning my microfiber seats on my dining chairs with rubbing alcohol made them look brand new. They were so grungy after 10 years of use. I ended up covering them with a colorful fabric and a staple gun, but those clean and fresh seats are still there if I get sick of the fabric.

  7. Alcohol needs to be at least 45% to kill germs. Typical rubbing alcohol is 70%. If you dilute it by 50%, it becomes a 35% concentration. If you want it to kill germs, do not dilute it more than 1/3. That’s 2 parts alcohol to one part water. Works like a charm! It’s also great at cutting oils and soap scum.

      • I have a question you said 2 parts of alcohol to one part water, would that be with the 50% rubbing alcohol? The reason I ask is that my husband bought 4 bottles of 50% alcohol and I don’t want to trash it.I’m trying to see of I can use it, to at least wipe counter tops, door knobs, cabinet handles, etc.
        Thank you!

    • You probably shouldn’t, in small amounts it’s harmless but isopropyl is harder on the liver than ethanol and it’s absorbed through skin.

  8. 70% rubbing alcohol is already diluted to the perfect ratio for cleaning. If you dilute it any more, it will be too weak. However if you get the 99% alcohol, that should be diluted for cleaning.

    • In defense of Melissa Maker, she is an expert on cleaning households, not a physician. To the person who harmed themselves with cleaning fluids, accidents happen. Should people stop driving cars because of auto accidents? Should people stop doing carpentry work because of work accidents? Of course not!

  9. As a burn provider I do not recommend rubbing alcohol as a cleaner due to its flammability. I encountered a patient who burned herself. The alcohol ignited with a near by open flame. I couldn’t believe this advise is given until I googled it! Vinager is a safer alternative. Why risk becoming a burn victim??

    • As mentioned in the article, we do not recommend using rubbing alcohol near an open flame or heat source. Rubbing alcohol has many cleaning benefits, some of which vinegar does not, so they do serve different purposes.

    • Or, you can make sure it isn’t near an open flame and wait for a few hours before using your stove or whatever. It’s a superior cleaner for many things. I use it to clean my granite with 2/3 RA, 1 part water, and a squirt of dish soap. It’s the best granite cleaner out there, and it disinfects. I just make sure I am nowhere near a flame, and I don’t use my stove for an hour or two after. Never even came close to having any issues.

  10. Thank you for sharing the formula(s), now I can put alcohol to more use than just waiting for it to expire (don’t get much cuts yearly).

    Keep up the good job.

    • 70% is better for disinfecting than 90%. I believe it has to do with the oxygen in the water that helps in the disinfecting property.

  11. I suffer with asthma. It has been bothering me lately. Idea came to mix alcohol and water in spray bottle. I spray entire bedroom. Now my symptoms have greatly lessened.

  12. So many questions unanswered in comments! I know from experience that 91% rub.alc. can remove (black) COLOR from my black TV remote! Also removes text/graphics from some plastic bottles/labels. Be careful with something that can remove permanent marker!

  13. I realize this post is old, but I am curious about something. Usually, stainless steel appliances have a protective coating on them. I’ve read that alcohol can damage this coating. Any comments?

    • You have to make sure it is diluted. 50% or 70% works better and are less damaging than 91%. I’ve been using alcohol to clean for years, no complaints yet!

  14. I love your “all purpose spray” which includes the rubbing alcohol.. I’ve been useing it for awhile now but it’s quite expensive to buy rubbing alcohol where I live (Australia) is there an alternative to rubbing alcohol that can be added to the all purpose spray instead ?

    • Maybe distilled white vinegar from the supermarket? You may want to tweak the formula.

      Otherwise, order >97% isopropyl alcohol online. They’d be cheaper than Isocol in $/mL 🙂

    • Some people use vodka in alcohol cleaning spray, believe it or not. Cheap vodka is fine. Hopefully booze is cheaper than rubbing alcohol in Australia!

  15. I use rubbing alcohol to clean sap off of my car works great, I then put a light coat of polish on the area I clean that may not be required but I just do it.

    • Hi Vonnie,

      Rubbing alcohol can be used to get out ink stains in clothing, but washing clothes in it might risk damaging them, depending on the fabric.

  16. I am amazed at how many people hear that you use rubbing alcohol to disinfect items from stemware to keyboards and they freak out. Sometimes I wonder if they think we are drinking it instead of spraying and wiping.

  17. Wondering how the disinfectant properties of rubbing alcohol are different from vinegar? Also as a comparison for polishing items like sinks and stainless? Are the comparable?

    • You probably could if it’s not oil based, or if you only use a tiny bit of essential oil and shake well before you spray. You don’t want oil spots on upholstery. The alcohol evaporates so quickly that it would most likely leave behind whatever fragrance you used which would be nice

  18. I use rubbing alcohol all over my home. I love the way it smells, and cleans and disinfects, especially in my kitchen and bathroom. It’s cheap, and it works amazingly, better then any other cleaner. I spray my kitchen sponge after every use, and wipe down the surface of my kitchen. I love using it in my bathrooms. I really like the smell of it. I bought a spray bottle and just refill it . I get my alcohol at the dollar store, and stock up on it. It’s one cleaner that you can use in your entire bathroom, it doesn’t streak. It’s great on floors, and any surface. I haven’t found a surface yet that I can’t use it on. 🙂

  19. I’m going t o try the alcohol and water to defrost my car.what is the ratio? And his w long can I store it in a plastic bottle to be ready for use?

      • Oh yay I finally found the answer I was looking for. So the tap water and alcohol solution can keep for months? That is good news.

        If anyone knows, Melissa also recommends a tap water and dishwashing detergent solution as an all purpose cleaner. Can this also keep for a while?


  20. Hi Mellisa for all of your great & amazing tipps. I have a little question: there are many types of rub. alcohol like ethil, etanol etc. Because I live in Israel I can’t order the thing you use from Amazon. And also there are obviously couple of kinds of hydrogen peroxide. I don’t know what kinds of alcohol can I use in order to make your home made cleaners and what kind of hydrogen peroxide. Thanks in advance

  21. Thanks for the video – I hate to clean but this will make life a lot easier!!!! I also put it in my floor washing solution of water, vinegar, a tsp. of dawn besides a table spoon of the rubbing alcohol and works like a champ

  22. Methylated spirits or denatured alcohol as the americans call it is also excellent for cleaning cooking oil spatter from stove tops . Just make sure that the stove ( cooker) is switched off and cooled right down first.

  23. Keep up the great work! Can you tell us where you got your spray bottle? Looks like it’s a good one and I always seem to buy the ones that leak. :/

    • I’ve ran into that same leaking issue. I only spent roughly $2.50 more over the $1 leaker when I found a very durable spray bottle on my way to the register at Home Depot. Not One issue since!
      In addition to the car defrosting, I’ve also used it outside my front door and down the walkway, driveway, and even under my garage door. It turns to slush almost instantly plus it beats tracking salt through my house!!
      For disinfecting, I did hear from a doctor that alcohol is the only thing that will kill certain bacteria like staff, which is super contagious! Anyone that frequents gyms for example, I would keep a bottle around just in case.

  24. good work. should be more of it.

    It is absurd that the market shelves and our cupboards are crammed with cleaners for this and cleaners for that when cheap omni cleaners are conveniently kept quiet.

    Reminds me of mum. She had a big notebook of what combos of the basics like; methylated spirits, bicarb, washing soda etc. etc. worked for various jobs.

  25. RE: 8) Remove Ink and Permanent Marker Stains

    “Place in the wash, per the garment’s care instructions and repeat as needed. This will avoid that hysterical outburst of ‘I just can’t have nice things!’.”

    Got a loud chuckle out of that one…Thanks for the LOL!

  26. I now use 91% isopropyl alcohol to clean my hot rollers. Since I have to use hairspray after rolling my hair (I have seriously straight hair and this is the only thing that works to hold the curl) after a few months, the hairspray builds up on my rollers. I picked up a new bottle of alcohol last weekend, not realizing it was 91% when I had always used 70%. Wow! What a difference! I only had to soak and rinse my rollers instead of soaking them and then scrubbing off the loosened gunk with 70% alcohol. My vanity was quickly cleaned using the 91%, as well! And the BEST thing? I used the 91% alcohol on my shower tiles to remove a layer of soap & lime scale…with a paper towel!! It took a whole bottle of CLR and scrubbing with a dish scrubber to get it off last time! I am in cleaning heaven!

  27. Excellent stuff. I am going to try it out.
    Is there any risk if corrosion, rust or weakening in fabrics and fibres.

  28. I just happened tobspill a little hand sanitizer (62% alcohol) on thevglass counter protectors I have in my kitchen and the “germ” of an idea happened…why not use rubbing alcohol when cleaning! So I googled your site and was delighted to find your suggestions. Thanks so very much for the tips on cleaning with alcohol!!

    • It does change the color of wood a little but I just put a little water and baby oil on a damp paper towel and wipe the wood and it’s good

  29. I am hard of hearing. Any chance you could include a page of highlights in numerical order for each of your presentations. This way I can print the highlights and avoid carpal tunnel (kidding). I try to write down what you say but you talk very fast, and I sometimes cannot hear what you say even though I backup the presentation numerous times. You have wonderful suggestions.

  30. tried on my mirror awesome, is the alcohol a cleaner and disinfectant that you don’t have to wait ten min? Could this be considered a one-step process?

  31. I love all of your tips. I have a lung disease and I was searching for an alternative to harsh cleaning chemicals. I’ll remember to have proper ventilation. Thanks so much

  32. How long is the alcohol and the fumes flammable. I just started using a mixture of rubbing alcohol, castile soap, and tea tree oil for cleaning my granite counters next to my gas stove.

  33. Hi Melissa.. Question I found two variations of rubbing alcohol and I’m wondering which you feel is best or does it matter. One is 50% isopropyl and already in a spray bottle and the other is 91% isopropyl. I’m looking specifically at cleaning my microfiber sofa and stainless steel appliances. Also do I need to dilute the one already in the spray bottle? Love your ideas and thank you

  34. Actually, windows whether they have frost or not. It cleans glass better than anything I’ve seen, including actual window cleaner. Makes it look new. And doesn’t streak.

  35. Hi Melissa, LOVE your videos! I managed to track down a source for rubbing alcohol and have just read your piece above that it’s also known as Surgical spirit!!! The stuff we nurses 50 years ago used to rub on Pressure points of a body – taboo today! Thank you for your help with the cleaning it will make my pension go further by saving money when not buying commercial products. Mary

  36. Kudos to you. You have built, by all appearances, an excellent business. I love your videos for their fun but educational and to the point nature. Your website is also very nice and extremely informative. Thank you so much, you are definitely doing what you are very good at.

  37. Is isopropyl alcohol dangerous to use? Bottle says use in well ventilated area, fumes may be
    harmful. Would like to use as a disinfectant. Thank you for your time.

  38. Hi ! I have Isopropyl Alcohol with me around 25 MTS, I have to sell it as it contains a moisture content of 2% which is useless for my factory, please advise if some one is interested to buy, I can offer some cheap price…


  39. I truly love your videos! I am very sensitive to commercial cleaners but I am an obsessive cleaner and also thought bleach was the only way to disinfect my home. I also forgot to tell you I have Lupus and my immune system is in crash zone. So I was so happy to come across your videos. My husband says I’m just in a trance with your ides and now he finds spray bottles all under the sink and most of the store cleaners are gone. My husband also doesn’t believe that they can really get the job done especially when I’m OCD when it comes to cleaning. I enjoy watching more videos and I will keep using your ideas while he is working.

    • I would use “Lysol” or whatever u use… Then the alcohol… It will disinfect your floors .. But I wouldn’t do it to wood.

  40. Hello Clean my space tandem! Your vlog and blog is infotainment at its best! Thanks for doing this and sharing us tips & tricks!

    Where can we read replies in the comments? I am curious when to use alcohol as is without water mixture and when it’s best to dilute 1:1?


  41. I love this! Thanks. Always have used it as a topical/surface disinfectant and a clothes/garment and space/energy spray cleanser. Lately been using it on mirrors and just on my sink! Love the affirmations and new usages! Thanks again!

  42. You saved my life! Rubbin Alcohol worked like a CHARM when a cat peed on my Microfiber couch!! I was Freaking out ‘cuz it was a brand new couch… I searched online and some people was talking about vinegar and blah blah and all I was worried about was the smell and the fcking stain!! Then after watching this video I decided to use rubbin alcohol on my couch, it took almost 1/2 litre to remove all the smell but it really really worked and there is not a single stain not the minimum change of color and I am the happiest person and you are my heroine 🙂

  43. Hello,

    I also heard that Hydrogen peroxide can be a good cleaner as well. What are your thoughts on this, and do you prefer one over the other?

  44. Thanks for all your tips! Would love a section where I can submit questions. 1. How do you get grease stain out of clothes. 2. Any car carpet cleaning tips?

    • Murphy’s oil soap will take fatty greases from clothes. Just put it on and rub the material together and then launder. It will work even if it’s an old stain.

  45. Your videos are AWESOMELY entertaining and useful. Thank you for making cleaning fun again! 🙂
    Do you use hydrogen peroxide to clean your toilet? I would prefer not to buy my usual Ecover, which I love, in lieu of one of the other cleaning staples I keep on hand in bulk. Thanks again!

  46. After 66 years finally I now know how to get a streak free mirror on a time! Thanks for all our ‘how to’ tips! QGordon – SC

  47. Thanks for this article. Many off the shelf household products contain ethanol and I was wondering how I would determine the % of ethanol in a particular product. In the few cleaners I’ve seen, they list the ingredients, but not the concentration. Would a company be required to divulge that information?

  48. when you say make a disinfectant spreay using one part alcohol and one part water do you mean half bottle alcohol and half water?

  49. Hi Melissa and Chad 🙂
    Love your videos and tips, you’re a true motivator. My home has never been cleaner since I started watching your channel and I already got various compliments. I also started to tackle areas I successfully had ignored for quite some time. Well, there is three of us and I’m the one doing the main household work, so the journey is the destination. 🙂
    Keep it up and thank you very much.
    Love, Nadia


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