female hand in yellow rubber glove holding spray bottle of homemade cleaning solution

5 Essential Cleaner Recipes That Use the Power of Rubbing Alcohol

Isopropyl alcohol, commonly known as rubbing alcohol, is extremely useful around the house because it acts as both a solvent and a disinfectant. Add to that, it’s cheap! All of this makes isopropyl alcohol nearly magical as an ingredient in so many useful homemade cleaning products.

female hand in yellow rubber glove holding spray bottle of homemade cleaning solution

Rubbing alcohol comes in varying strengths from 70% isopropyl alcohol, which is most common, all the way to 99% strength. While any of these strengths will work well in the five recipes I have for you today, 70% is most common and least expensive—$1 – $2  for 16 oz. is typical. Always label homemade solutions clearly and keep them out of the reach of children.

Windshield Washer Fluid

Ingredients

  • 3 cups (24 oz.) rubbing (isopropyl) alcohol
  • 2 teaspoons Blue Dawn dishwashing liquid
  • 10 cups water

Instructions

Pour ingredients into a gallon-size plastic jug. Shake thoroughly to mix. Use in place of commercial windshield washer fluid in your car’s windshield washer reservoir. Always shake prior to adding to the reservoir. The alcohol speeds the drying time and prevents the solution from freezing in winter.

Eyeglasses Lens and Screen Cleaner

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup rubbing alcohol
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 drop liquid soap like Blue Dawn

Instructions

Combine ingredients and pour into a small spray bottle. Spray onto a microfiber cloth rather than directly onto lenses, computer screens, or other devices. Rub to clean away all the fingerprints and other dirty grim. Look at that sparkle!

 

All-Purpose Liquid Cleaner

Ingredients

  • 2 cups rubbing alcohol
  • 1 tablespoon dishwashing liquid, like Blue Dawn
  • 1 tablespoon household ammonia
  • 1 tablespoon plain white vinegar

Instructions

Pour ingredients into a gallon jug. Fill with warm water and shake. You can put this in a spray bottle and use it as you would Windex. Great for cleaning windows, chrome, and bath fixtures, too!

Heavy-Duty Window Cleaner

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup household ammonia
  • 2 cups rubbing alcohol
  • 1 teaspoon liquid dishwashing detergent, like Blue Dawn
  • Water

Instructions

Mix ammonia, alcohol, and detergent in a gallon jug. Fill to the top with water. Shake before each use. This solution is excellent in cleaning filthy windows, taking tape marks off windows, and removing soap film from shower doors.

Granite Cleaner

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup rubbing alcohol
  • 8 drops Blue Dawn dishwashing liquid
  • 5 drops essential oil (optional, but makes it smell great)
  • water

Instructions

Pour rubbing alcohol, soap, and essential oil (if you choose) into a 16-oz. spray bottle. Add enough water to fill the bottle. Label and keep out of reach of children. Shake to mix. From now on, use this cleaner to keep your countertops beautifully clean and shiny without wrecking the sealant or causing any harm to the granite.

Pro Tip: Can also use to clean quartz, marble, Corian, Formica, and wood counters.

Bonus

Got a carpet stain? Lipstick on a blouse? Adhering to the adage of “first, do no harm”—use isopropyl alcohol straight up to remove that stain. Nine times out of 10, it’s going to work to remove it, and quite magically!

Substitutes

You can reasonably substitute denatured alcohol or grain alcohol for the rubbing alcohol in these homemade cleaning products.

Denatured alcohol is not exactly matched to isopropyl alcohol, chemically, but performs quite the  same. It has a stronger odor; you certainly do not want to use it for medicinal purposes, as you might with rubbing alcohol. You will not find this in supermarkets or drugstores. Denatured alcohol is available in the paint aisle of Home Depot, Lowe’s, and other such home improvement stores. Also online. Denatured alcohol is a powerful solvent-type cleaner and stain remover. Mostly, we find denatured alcohol in the garage or workshop.

Everclear Grain Alcohol is available in liquor and spirits stores. It is the most potent alcohol allowed for human consumption, and even so, I would suggest you never, ever come close to drinking the stuff. It’s bad, nasty—190 proof! And that makes it perfect for homemade cleaning products.

Caution

Keep all alcohol products clearly labeled and out of easy reach of children and others. Treat them with the same respect you treat all flammables, toxins, and pest control products.

 

Frequently Asked Questions:

Does isopropyl alcohol expire?

It might surprise you to hear that isopropyl alcohol does expire, and therefore it is always labeled with an expiration date. While the solution does last a fairly long time, usually ranging between two and three years, it will eventually deteriorate.

What is difference between 70%, 91% and 99% isopropyl alcohol?

According to Dr. Elizabeth Scott, professor of microbiology at Simmons Center for Hygiene and Health in Home and Community at Simmons University in Boston, higher-percentage alcohols are more concentrated. That means lower percentages, like 70 percent, have more water in them. Turns out, the water is actually an important ingredient here. Basically, a 90% or 91% alcohol solution is too powerful in some cases: It fries the outside of the cell before it can get into the inside and kill the actual germ. 70%alcohol is just the right proportion of water and alcohol to zap the entire cell.

When should 99% be used?

99% isopropyl alcohol is ideal as a solvent or cleaning agent for water-sensitive items, therefore rapid evaporation and almost zero water content is favorable.

Is isopropyl alcohol effective against mold i.e. fungus and fungus spores?

Isopropyl Alcohol may be intermittently effective at killing fungus, but it is not effective at killing fungal spores. Mold and fungus treatment is generally considered a problem related to moisture and humidity. Using a surface-level cleaner may not be effective for removing fungi. Bleach and hydrogen peroxides are most commonly associated with removing mold and fungus.

 

You may also enjoy …

More Homemade Cleaning Products

How to Make Disinfecting Wipes

How to Make Homemade Natural Furniture Polish and Get Rid of White Rings

Where to Find Basic Essentials When the Shelves are Empty

Revised & Updated 11-16-23


 

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12 replies
  1. Mohammed Hashi says:

    Using alcohol as a key ingredient in homemade cleaning products is a game-changer for those of us passionate about DIY solutions and minimizing the use of harsh chemicals in our homes. Alcohol’s disinfecting properties make it an excellent choice for sanitizing surfaces, and its quick evaporation rate leaves behind no residue, making it ideal for glass and shiny surfaces. I’ve personally found that a mixture of alcohol with water and a few drops of essential oil not only cleans effectively but also leaves a refreshing scent. Articles like this are incredibly valuable for sharing safe, effective, and eco-friendly cleaning alternatives.

    Reply
  2. Phyllis says:

    For the all purpose cleaner, can I forego the ammonia? We have kitties here and ammonia is not good for them. Is there a substitute or is it okay to just not add anything else? Thanks.

    Reply
  3. a says:

    The orange print button does not show up in Firefox but does show up in Safari. If you hit print, it will print 9 pages that include introductory paragraphs for previous columns. After you hit the orange print button, you also have the option to save and download as a pdf.

    Reply
    • Mary Hunt says:

      And you can hover over any paragraph and delete if don’t want to print it. That way you can print only the portion you desire.d

      Reply
    • Mary Hunt says:

      Well, it is actually orange 🙂 And you need to scroll all the way to the area right before you made your comment. It’s there! If you do not see it, I suggest you check using another browser.

      Reply
      • Sheri B. says:

        The Print button on my laptop is Pink!
        Defiantly not orange. lol
        I guess it depends on your computer. and for Bill not seeing it maybe he is viewing it privately. When I am doing that, I have to turn it off just so I can see it and reload the page. then turn it back on.

  4. Connie Siffring says:

    I would be careful when using rubbing alcohol on eyeglasses. Per my optomistrist, when you get your prescription glasses, you may receive special coatings on your lenses, and if you decide to clean your glasses with alcohol, you risk removing them.

    Reply
    • Mary Hunt says:

      Right before Comments area … where you made this comment. If you do not see it (it’s hard to miss!) try a different browser.

      Reply

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