Rubbing alcohol, also known as isopropyl alcohol, has a number of uses in the health industry and is a common product in most home medicine cabinets. It works as an effective antiseptic, astringent, liniment, surface disinfectant and cleaning agent.
It is basically a solvent, meaning it dissolves dirt and oil, and also works as a powerful disinfectant. It is typically 70% isopropyl alcohol or ethanol and 30% distilled water. The ethanol content can be as high as 90%, depending on the manufacturer.
Today, one of the more common household uses of rubbing alcohol is as an effective cleaning agent. In fact, it is one of the active ingredients in many commercial products used to disinfect surfaces as well as electronic devices. Generally, in those products, it is combined with another chemical that helps it stay on the surface longer and not evaporate as quickly.
Here are the top 10 amazing uses of rubbing alcohol.
1. Prevents Swimmer’s Ear
When water gets trapped deep in the ear canal, it can be very annoying to remove the residual liquid and its presence also increases the risk for infectious pathogens, leading to swimmer’s ear. However, you can prevent an infection with rubbing alcohol.
Rubbing alcohol evaporates much easier and faster than water. By adding some rubbing alcohol to the water trapped in the ear, the resulting mixture will evaporate faster, hence drying the ear and preventing infection.
- Mix equal parts of rubbing alcohol and white vinegar.
- Fill an ear dropper with the solution.
- Lie down with the affected ear facing upward.
- Put 2 to 4 drops into the ear and wait 10 minutes.
- Tilt your ear in the opposite direction to allow drainage of any excess liquid.
- Repeat as needed.
2. Cleans Minor Cuts and Abrasions
Rubbing alcohol is just the right ingredient to use when you have a minor cut or abrasion. First of all, this natural antiseptic agent disinfects the affected area and kills surface bacteria to prevent bacterial growth.
In addition, its astringent property helps stop bleeding in minor cuts and scrapes by tightening up the capillaries that are losing blood.
- Apply some rubbing alcohol to the affected area using a cotton ball.
- Leave it on for several minutes.
- As rubbing alcohol can dry your skin, apply some moisturizing lotion or simply aloe vera gel on the area after you are done.
- Do this several times a day for several days.
3. Prevents Acne and Pimples
Rubbing alcohol is also beneficial for preventing acne and pimples, due to its disinfectant, soothing and cooling properties. It will help remove dirt from the skin and unclog blocked pores.
Make sure you use it as soon as you notice the first signs of a pimple.
- Soak a cotton swab in rubbing alcohol (70 percent strength).
- Dab it on the affected area gently.
- Leave it on for 10 minutes.
- Rinse the affected area with lukewarm water. You can also follow up with a light moisturizer or just aloe vera gel.
- Do this twice daily for a couple of days only.
Note: Rubbing alcohol should not be used for a lengthy period of time, as it can dry up the skin to a great extent.
4. Treats Poison Ivy
When exposed to poison ivy or another plant that irritates the skin, the symptoms such as intense itching and redness can make things difficult for you. In such a situation, a bottle of rubbing alcohol is all that you need for instant relief, due to its disinfectant, soothing and cooling properties.
It also sterilizes the affected skin and helps prevent infection.
- Saturate a paper towel with rubbing alcohol.
- Use it to gently wipe the affected area.
- When the area is completely dry, wash it with soap and warm water.
- Do this several times a day for 2 to 3 days.
Note: People with sensitive skin should avoid using rubbing alcohol because it can cause dryness and peeling.
5. Treats Toenail Fungus
Rubbing alcohol has antiseptic properties that can help fight a toenail fungus. Plus, being a drying agent, it helps keep the affected area dry to inhibit fungal growth. Fungi thrive in warm, moist environments.
It will give you relief from the irritation and pain, as well as reducing the chance of further infection.
- Mix equal amounts of rubbing alcohol and white vinegar.
- Soak a thick pad of cotton in the solution and place it over the infected toenail.
- Wrap it with a small bandage or tape to keep the cotton pad in place.
- Allow it to sit for about 30 to 45 minutes.
- Finish by gently scrubbing the toenail with a soft-bristled toothbrush, then rinse the area.
- Use this remedy once daily for several days.
6. Kills Head Lice
Having head lice is a very irritating as well as embarrassing problem that many people have to face. It’s very difficult to control head lice, but you can get rid of this problem quickly with rubbing alcohol.
Rubbing alcohol can effectively kill lice and nits. This powerful disinfectant is safe to use.
- Keeping your head bent over a tub, pour a little rubbing alcohol onto your hair.
- Using your fingers, spread the rubbing alcohol around your scalp and throughout your hair.
- Leave it on for 5 to 10 minutes.
- Rub some conditioner onto your scalp.
- Use a nit comb to brush out all the lice.
- Finish by shampooing your hair.
- Use this treatment once a week for a couple of months.