How to Safely Use Alcohol as a Disinfectant

One of the basic things you need to learn in life is probably how to clean things properly. Wiping away dust and grime is easy but you need to keep in mind that the most harmful germs are those that you can’t see. It is also equally important to disinfect your surroundings as much as keeping your body clean. 

The best way to keep your body clean is to wash it with soap and water. This is why we need to take daily baths and wash our hands regularly throughout the day, depending on where we go and what we do. The same thing applies for our surroundings. 

If we want to get rid of microbes, we have to scrub our kitchen counters and floors clean, deep clean our couches, and almost everything else in our household. Routine cleaning is important but we cannot do it every day for our home. This is why disinfection is necessary. 

Disinfection can decrease the amount of dangerous microbes in your skin and surfaces by use of chemicals. And one of the most common chemical agents we use for disinfection is alcohol. It is very affordable, accessible, and also very effective. However, a lot of people misuse this common healthcare and household commodity. 

Here are several important things you need to know about disinfecting with alcohol.

What are the Different Types of Alcohol?

There are generally three types of alcohol. Knowing the difference between the three is important for your own safety. Each type of alcohol has its own distinct qualities and applications. 

Isopropyl Alcohol

Also known as isopropanol, isopropyl alcohol is often rubbed into skin and other surfaces for it’s cooling and disinfecting properties. It is made by combining water with propylene. It is best when used for sterilization. However, it is sold in various concentrations. Two of the most common concentrations are 70% and 99% Isopropyl. 

A 70% concentration is ideal for everyday household use. A 99% concentration is often used as a solvent or a cleaning agent for industrial use. Because the latter contains less water in the solution, it evaporates much faster, making it a better option for cleaning water-sensitive items such as electronics. 

Ethyl Alcohol

Also known as ethanol, Ethyl alcohol is also used as a disinfectant when formulated with a 60%-70% concentration. It is used as an ingredient in hand wipes and some soap brands. As with Isopropyl alcohol, it is effective in destroying bacterial and viral cell walls limiting their spread and replication. 

Methyl Alcohol

This is a lesser known type of alcohol because it is not commonly used in household and cosmetic products. It is also called wood alcohol or methanol. It is primarily used as an industrial solvent. Huge manufacturers use this type of alcohol to develop paint removers, plastic, and even explosives. 

The Do’s and Don'ts of Using Alcohol as a Disinfectant

When used properly, alcohol can be effective in keeping microbial growth at bay in between cleaning sessions. However, here are things you need to consider in order to keep yourself and your family safe. 

Apply It in a Ventilated Area

well-lit living room with huge windows

It is best to open your windows whenever you are using alcohol to clean parts of your home like your desk, vanity table, and kitchen counter to ensure that the area is well-ventilated. Alcohol is a useful substance but keep in mind that it is a volatile chemical and may create fumes. 

Know Which Surfaces Are Safe for Alcohol Disinfection

green couch in the middle of a room

Alcohol is a common household item that is both accessible and effective. And although it can have a variety of purposes, it doesn’t mean you can use it to clean everything. Again, you can use it to clean kitchen counters, toilet seats, and even your gadget cases. However, do not use it to remove stains on delicate types of fabric such as wool, silk, rayon, and acetate. 

Avoid using it to disinfect finished surfaces as well, since alcohol is a solvent. It can liquify varnishes, paint, and other types of wood or furniture treatments which may cause discoloration to your furniture. 

Do Not Apply Directly to Open Wounds

Spraying alcohol directly on your skin is fine as long as you don’t have any open wounds. Apart from feeling a bit of sting, it can irritate the area further and slow down healing. Do not use it also on sunburnt and irritated skin. You can use it however, to sanitize tools that you use directly for your skin such as makeup brushes, tweezers, and others. 

Do Not Mix It With Bleach

Bleach and alcohol are both useful when it comes to keeping your house clean. However, never make the mistake of mixing both substances together. When either isopropyl or ethanol is mixed with bleach, a toxic compound known as chloroform forms. Once it’s created, chloroform emits toxic fumes that are highly dangerous when inhaled. 

The Takeaway

Cleaning your house should be done mindfully. While alcohol is an effective disinfecting liquid, it should be used with care as it is also a flammable and volatile chemical. Be careful not to mix it with other substances.

It’s great to have something as potent and effective as a convenient bottle of alcohol or alcohol-based disinfecting solution at your disposal whenever you feel the need to use it. As mentioned, a 70% solution such as Purisure’s Alcohol + Tea Tree Purifying Spray is ideal for optimal efficacy. If you want something in gel form, you can also try this Instant Hand Sanitizer which comes in an easy-squeeze tube that’s great for keeping your hands free of microbes wherever you go. 











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