6 Things You Should Never Do With Rubbing Alcohol


Most of us likely have rubbing alcohol somewhere stashed away in our homes. After all, it’s a great way to kill germs and viruses around us, especially during times of heightened sickness.

However, because of some of its unique chemical properties, it’s important to take some extra precautions when using it to stay safe. If you’re about to use some rubbing alcohol, keep these 6 tips in mind regarding what NEVER to do with it:

  1. Don’t mix it with bleach

    Rubbing alcohol has ethanol and isopropyl in it, and if those chemicals are mixed with bleach, it creates chloroform, a toxic compound that, if inhaled, can cause serious damage to the central nervous system, liver and kidneys. It can also harm your skin, lungs, and eyes or cause nausea and dizziness. Science is crazy, right?

  2. Don’t use it near fire

    Blow out your candles, make sure you’re not near a stove—just avoid rubbing alcohol at all costs if you’re near hot flames. Rubbing alcohol is super flammable, so even a tiny bit mixed with fire can cause irreversible damage.

  3. Don’t keep windows closed

    When using rubbing alcohol, you’ll want to make sure you’re in a ventilated area. That’s because the isopropyl can create potentially harmful fume that no one should be breathing in.

  4. Don’t use it on THESE surfaces

    Yes, the point of rubbing alcohol is to sterilize certain surfaces—but not every surface is conducive to the strong stuff. For example, avoid using rubbing alcohol on varnishes or finishes, including paint, shellack, lacquer, and treated wood, since the ethanol can cause damage on these. Additionally, avoid using it on delicate fabrics such as acetate, rayon, wool, and silk, which would have the opposite effect on treating stains.

  5. Don’t use it to clean wounds

    You might think that rubbing alcohol is a great way to clean out or sanitize a wound. However, the isopropyl can cause skin irritation or even delay the healing of the injury. You’ll also want to avoid using it on any irritated skin as it is (aka sunburn or dry areas).

  6. Don’t eat it

    Perhaps relatively obvious, but you never know! Never ingest rubbing alcohol, which is extremely toxic. You’ll definitely want to keep this out of reach of any children in your home, especially mouthy ones.

Do you use rubbing alcohol a lot? Did you know these useful facts about what not to do with it?