Life Hacks | Did You Know

15 Thrifty Uses For Rubbing Alcohol You Never Would Have Come Up With On Your Own

Famartin - Wikimedia Commons / Fairfax County - Flickr

We're all familiar with rubbing alcohol, also known as isopropyl alcohol, because it is a staple in first aid kits.

But did you know that you can do more than just disinfect wounds with it?

Rubbing alcohol, which is usually sold in two grades (70% isopropyl alcohol and 90%+ isopropyl alcohol), has a wide range of household uses, making it one of the most useful products you should always have on hand.

The 70% variety has a higher water content and that makes it better for topical uses. As for the 90%+, its lower water content makes it dry faster, so it is perfect for cleaning surfaces that shouldn't get a lot of moisture.

If you don't already have it in your cabinet, grab a bottle of rubbing alcohol here then keep reading for all the ways you can use it around your home.

1. Remove hairspray residue from mirrors

Whenever you spritz hairspray or other aerosol products, they don't just end up on your hair or body, they land on other surfaces around you as well. Since most of us style our locks while in the bathroom, over time the mirror ends up getting covered in dried up hairspray residue.

One of the easiest ways to get rid of the sticky gunk and have a clean, streak-free mirror is by wiping the glass with a paper towel dampened with rubbing alcohol.

2. Dissolve frost on windshields

Winters in some parts of the country can be brutal and the last thing you want to do every morning is scrape frost off your car's windshield and windows.

A foolproof solution that will save you a lot of time and energy is to fill a spray bottle with rubbing alcohol and apply it to the windows. Use a soft cloth to wipe the frost and it'll come right off.

Also, if you'd like to prevent frost from forming on your car or home windows, wash them with a solution of 1/2 cup rubbing alcohol and one quart water.

3. Remove ink and permanent marker stains

I never carry pens in my purse and whenever I'm wearing light-colored clothes, I'm extra careful not to get ink stains because I used to believe that there was no way to get rid of them.

Well, I have now learned that I was wrong and all a person needs to do to get rid of ink stains is to soak the affected area in rubbing alcohol before throwing the garment in the wash.

Rubbing alcohol can re-hydrate permanent marker stains too, so it can also be used to clean marks off counter tops, kid's toys, and more.

4. Clean Venetian blinds

If your blinds are starting to look more beige than white, it's time to give them a clean.

However, don't bother taking them out for that can be a hassle. Just wrap a flat tool, such as a spatula, in a cloth, secure it with a rubber band, then dip it in the alcohol and wipe the slats clean.

5. Get rid of fruit flies

These pesky bugs can be a headache to deal with, but as long as you have some rubbing alcohol around, you can easily get rid of them.

Fill up a spray bottle with the alcohol and use it to mist and kill the tiny bugs. Sure, it won't function as well as bug spray, but at least you can sleep at night knowing that you haven't contaminated your kitchen with harmful chemicals.

6. Remove stickers


It's a task that always seems simple at first, but anyone who has attempted to remove a sticker from certain surfaces has experienced just how annoying and time-consuming it can be.

Next time you're forced to deal with a stubborn sticker, just reach for some rubbing alcohol. Dampen the surface of the sticker with the liquid and after a few minutes the adhesive will loosen so you can easily peel it off.

7. Use as deodorant substitute

We've all had those days where we go to apply deodorant and realize that the container is empty.

If you're someone who sweats a lot and can't go a few hours without underarm protection, you can use rubbing alcohol as a temporary substitute.

Simply mix a small quantity of the alcohol in a spray bottle, add about 15 drops of an essential oil, like lavender or tea tree, and use it as you normally would any deodorant.

Just make sure to opt for essential oils that are safe for skin and that you don't have any sensitivities or allergies.

8. Stretch tight shoes

For many people, wearing a pair of thick socks does the trick when it comes to stretching and breaking in new shoes.

However, if you're in a bit of a pinch, you can add rubbing alcohol to the mix.

Simply spray a thin layer on the outside and inside of the shoe before trying the classic socks method.

9. Clean your electronics

Store-bought surface cleaners aren't always recommended to use on your electronic devices, and while there are specific products made for cellphones, laptops, and TVs, they can be pricey.

Instead of wasting your hard-earned coins on a fancy cleaner, try rubbing alcohol. A small amount on a cloth goes a long way in not only cleaning dirt but also disinfecting. You can also use a rubbing alcohol-soaked cotton swap to clean hard-to-reach places.

The alcohol works so well because it evaporates and doesn't leave behind moisture that could damage your devices.

10. Make an ice pack

You should always have an ice pack on hand in case of an emergency. While any type of ice pack will help the injury, sometimes it's nice to have one that can be easily shaped to conform to the part of the body that's been affected.

You can make your own shapeable ice pack by combining one part rubbing alcohol with three parts water in a resealable plastic bag. The slush won't freeze completely so you will be able to shape it how you see fit.

11. Fix broken powder makeup

Makeup can be really expensive so when you accidentally drop your favorite eye shadow, blush or powder, it may seem like it's the end of the world.

Thankfully, someone out there found an easy and cheap solution to this problem using rubbing alcohol.

Gather as much of the broken pieces as you can, place them into their original container and crush them up. Next, add a few drops of rubbing alcohol and let the product soak up the liquid for a bit.

Finally, use the back of a spoon or even your fingers to smooth down the powder. The final product will look as good as new and you don't have to worry about ruining the makeup because the alcohol will eventually evaporate.

12. Remove odors from shoes

There are dozens of ways you can deodorize stinky shoes, but spraying them with rubbing alcohol takes the cake.

For this method to work best, spray the insides with the alcohol then place the shoes in the sun to dry. The combination of the alcohol and sunlight will kill the odor-causing bacteria.

13. Remove ticks

The tick population has been on the rise these last couple of years, so if you've spent some time in certain woodsy areas with your dog, there's a good chance that the bugs have latched onto you and them.

The CDC recommends using a tweezers to grab the tick then pull upwards with steady, even pressure to remove the tick. They also suggest using rubbing alcohol to disinfect the bite area as and clean your hands once you're done.

However, what many people don't know is that rubbing alcohol can also be used before the removal process begins because ticks hate the taste and it will force them to loosen their grip so you can easily pull them out.

14. Prevent shirt collar stains

Sometimes the oils produced by our skin or the makeup we wear can stain the collar on a clean shirt and make it look like you haven't washed it in a long time.

To save yourself the embarrassment and also to protect your collars from permanent stains, wipe your neck with rubbing alcohol before you dress up.

15. Clean up grease and grime

Skip the chemical-laden cleaning products, and use rubbing alcohol to clean certain surfaces around your home.

You can use it to clean chrome fixtures, remove stains from microfiber, get rid of that sticky, yellowish-brown grease stain found on kitchen cabinets, light fixtures and appliances.

Do you use rubbing alcohol around your home? Let us know in the comments!

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Blair isn't a bestselling author, but she has a knack for beautiful prose. When she isn't writing for Shared, she enjoys listening to podcasts.