There are few things that, when they are readily accessible in your home make life easier and safer. It is a smart housekeeping move to have these in a place earmarked for them so that when you need them in an emergency, you don’t have to search very hard to locate them. Rubbing alcohol is one such thing that you must always have at home ready at hand. Why?? Well, rubbing alcohol is quite a versatile liquid if you think about it and it has multiple uses, especially in many emergency situations. It is quite inexpensive as well and very easy to store safely, which gives you enough reasons to get some today and store it away for the future. How exactly can rubbing alcohol be used in myriad ways?
Disinfecting items you use commonly: The very first and perhaps most critical use for rubbing alcohol in the current pandemic scenario arises from its disinfecting properties. Especially in a pandemic situation where we have to put safety first and disinfect items that we handle frequently, using rubbing alcohol is an easy and safe solution. You can carry a rubbing alcohol spray bottle with you or keep one at your home by the doorway so that you can spray items like your keys as soon as you walk in from outside.
Rubbing alcohol can also be used to clean other surfaces like your phone or your wallet- anything that can be wiped down with the solution in such a way that the alcohol stays on for 30 seconds on it. This is the window of time that is needed to get rid of all viruses, bacteria upon the surface. While it may not work very well to wipe down large surfaces with alcohol, this is just ideal especially in spray form for things like your keys, a thermometer, scissors, knives, etc. that may be difficult to cover by wiping down. By the way, you can also clean the cloth you use for sterilizing by soaking it in alcohol for a while and then drying it. This way you know you are truly getting a thorough cleaning and sterilizing done.
A substitute for soap and water: Another great use for rubbing alcohol in these times is as an effective cleaning/ sanitizing agent for your hands. Cleaning your hands with soap and water and rubbing the soapy suds briskly is the ideal but what can you do when you are away from home, say, doing some emergency shopping for medicines and you have touched several surfaces that may be unsanitary? You can’t go looking around for soap and water nor do you want to wait until you get home. In such a situation, a handy bottle of rubbing alcohol can be your lifesaver. Just take as much alcohol as you need to cover your hands, both front and back, thoroughly. Ensure that when you spread it, the alcohol covers every inch of your skins and nails. Don’t rub too much because you want the liquid to coat your skin fully. Let it evaporate on its own. Now, that’s a thorough cleaning that you have done that effectively destroys potentially harmful bacteria and viruses!
For sterile and safe first aid equipment: Your first aid kit is the first thing you reach for when you have to quickly treat a cut or scrape. But it is imperative that you ensure all the equipment you use is really clean and sanitized. Rubbing alcohol helps you do this. Wipe down what you need to use, say tweezers or scissors, with the alcohol thoroughly before using them on the wound site. That way you ensure that no bacteria can pass from the equipment to the treatment site. You can also use alcohol to clean out items in your make up kit, like tweezers, so that you can avoid skin infections when you use them repeatedly.
Rubbing alcohol makes great DIY Ice packs: If you have a sprain or you have knocked your head against a bookshelf at home and you need a quick ice pack, rubbing alcohol can come to your aid here as well. Add one part of rubbing alcohol to three parts water in a plastic pack or container that can be sealed tightly and then freeze it. This can be used as an ice pack once frozen. The alcohol forms a gel like substance that is ideal for this use. This also gives you an advantage of making the ice pack in a shape that you desire, which is a great help if you need to wrap the pack around your ankle or wrist to cover the sprain site fully. If you are an active person, then keeping a rubbing alcohol ice pack at the ready at all times is a great idea.
Remedy for water in the ears: An unusual use of rubbing alcohol is that it can give you immediate relief if you have water in your ears. This is quite a common problem if you are an avid swimmer and even in other situations this can happen to you. As first aid, you can simply use your rubbing alcohol for relief. Take half a teaspoon of the alcohol and add it to half a teaspoon of white vinegar, use a dropper to gently introduce a few drops into the ear that is ‘stuffed’ with water with your head to the side to allow the solution to go in. Let the mixture drain out of the ear slowly. This is a quick remedy that you can use if you cannot get to a doctor soon.
Soothe insect bites: This is another very useful way in which rubbing alcohol can be utilized especially if you are on a camping trip or somewhere outdoors. This liquid makes a very effective soothing solution for insect bites, especially mosquito bites. Just dip a cotton ball in rubbing alcohol, and then gently dab the bite area with it. The itching disappears and the skin is cleansed too so the bite cannot develop into an infection if you accidentally scratch it later.
Rubbing alcohol can also be used with pets to remove stubborn ticks. Just dab the alcohol over the area where the tick is latching on, then use tweezers to pull the tick away. Once you have removed it, now dab some more alcohol with a fresh cotton swab to disinfect the area and promote faster healing of the sore.
Easy to use muscle pain remedy: A bottle of rubbing alcohol at hand can do double duty as pain relief medication as well. Sore muscles can be painful and they can prevent you from doing your regular activities. Rubbing alcohol dabbed into the painful areas can give you quick relief because it works like a liniment and makes the blood rush to the specific part. If you have a sore shoulder or achy knees and you want a speedy remedy, this could just be what you need.
What NOT to do
There are a few points to keep in mind when you are using rubbing alcohol in order to do so safely. Alcohol is highly inflammable so using it near open flame is a big NO! If you are disinfecting surfaces with alcohol, make sure you have shut off the stove, any candles or any other things that may be lighted up.
Bleach and rubbing alcohol do not go well with each other. Do not use bother in conjunction and do not use the two products on the same surface either. If you have cleaned something with bleach avoid bringing rubbing alcohol near it.
When you are using alcohol, make sure you have the room well ventilated. Keep doors and windows open wide so that any fumes can escape outside quickly and not get into your respiratory tract. After using the alcohol, leave the area well ventilated too. If it is an office space avoid doing the cleaning with the cooling on and all windows closed. Air out the place during the cleaning and afterwards for a few hours thoroughly. If necessary, use a face mask while using your rubbing alcohol on surfaces for extensive cleaning.
There are two kinds of rubbing alcohol you may find in stores- the 90% and 70% variants. The name indicates the percentage of isopropyl alcohol that the mixture contains. 90% alcohol is usually the more expensive kind. The 70% variant is better if you are using it on skin.
Interestingly, it is the 70% solution that is more effective when it comes to disinfecting or sanitizing. That is because the 30% water content ensures that it stays on the surface you are trying to clean for long enough for it to kill the germs and bacteria and virus effectively. The 90% solution evaporates too quickly for it to take effect. So, get your rubbing alcohol right away and you can have a safe solution to fall back upon to sanitize your living spaces and in event you encounter any of the other situations listed.