An aerosol can of spray dispensing its content against a backlit black background.

How to Rid Bathroom of Hairspray Overspray (and 13 More!)

Hairspray is wonderful for your hair. Not so great on the floor, sink, walls, mirror, and counter where you get ready every morning. Unless you are diligent to step outdoors every time you spray your hair, it’s a good bet hairspray overspray is landing on the nearby surfaces of your bathroom.

An aerosol can of spray dispensing its content against a backlit black background.


When allowed to build up day after day, hairspray can be tough to remove. What you need is a solvent that will melt the hairspray without harming the surfaces. Bonus points if that solvent does the job then dries quickly without leaving streaks.

Chances are good you already have the perfect product to remove hairspray buildup.

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Good old isopropyl (rubbing) alcohol does the trick! Used straight in a good spray bottle, rubbing alcohol is an effective disinfectant and also a natural solvent. Plus, it dries quickly and leaves no streaks. Just spray it on then wipe off with a good microfiber cloth.

For tough situations where the hairspray has built up over time—like on the floor—allow the alcohol to sit for a few minutes to soften and melt the hairspray so you can wipe it away. (Before using on painted surfaces, always test in an inconspicuous place.)

For routine maintenance between weekly cleaning, use a mixture of 70% isopropyl alcohol 50/50 with water plus a drop or two of blue Dawn dishwashing liquid. A quick spray and wipe down is all it takes to keep hairspray overspray away.

Reasonable substitutes

Still noticing a shortage of rubbing alcohol in your supermarket or drug store? You can substitute with denatured alcohol (find it in the paint aisle at Home Depot, Lowes) vodka, or gin.

More ways to use rubbing alcohol

Ink stains

If that ink stain is fresh, chances are high that a quick soaking with rubbing alcohol will prevent a permanent stain. Once allowed to soak for a few minutes, launder as usual.

Whiteboard stains

You know what happens when dry erase markers are used on whiteboards and allowed to stay on there for a long time—permanent marks! You could buy a pricey whiteboard cleaner, or grab that spray bottle of 91% isopropyl rubbing alcohol and a microfiber cloth to give it a good cleaning. Works like a charm.

  • MORE: Five Fabulous Homemade Products that Use the Power of Rubbing Alcohol

Shiny chrome

Want to bring back the sparkle to your bathroom and kitchen sink fixtures? Rubbing alcohol will do it in no time at all.

Candle soot

Clean the inside of those beautiful candle holders or jars with a cloth soaked in rubbing alcohol. It removes all of that dark soot in seconds.

Jewelry cleaner

Soak jewelry in rubbing alcohol to remove gunk and grime that builds up over time. A quick brush with an old soft toothbrush and careful rinse will produce beautiful results.


Spray a soft clean cloth with rubbing alcohol to clean the screens of all your devices—especially touchscreens.  Never spray directly on the screen or keyboard. It evaporates quickly, lessening the risk of harming the electronics. All you need is a cotton pad or microfiber cloth with alcohol.

Microfiber upholstery

Rather than trying to remove a dirty spot from that microfiber sofa with soap and water—which is likely to leave a new spot—clean it with rubbing alcohol. It won’t penetrate the fabric and dries quickly.

Smelly shoes

To remove odors, liberally spray the inside of shoes with rubbing alcohol. Place in a sunny spot to dry completely.

Nail polish remover

This works in a pinch if you don’t have real nail polish remover handy. Put some rubbing alcohol on a cotton ball and rub over the polish. It might take some rubbing, but the polish will come off.

Clean Venetian blinds

Rubbing alcohol does a fabulous job of cleaning the slats of Venetian blinds. Do this: wrap a flat tool—a spatula or = six-inch drywall or putty knife—in cloth and secure with a rubber band. Dip in alcohol and go to work.

Keep windows frost-free

Wash windows with a solution of 1/2 cup rubbing alcohol to one-quart water to prevent frost. Polish with a good microfiber cloth to make them shine.

Dissolve windshield frost

If you spritz the frost on your car’s windshield and windows with straight rubbing alcohol, you’ll be able to wipe frost from it without the need of a scraper.

Prevent ring-around-the-collar

To prevent your neck from staining your shirt collar, wipe your neck with rubbing alcohol each morning before you dress. Feels good too.


70% isopropyl alcohol is harmless on just about anything, but when it comes to cleaning most things it doesn’t get any better than 91% isopropyl alcohol.

91% should be avoided when cleaning electronics, plastics, and some types of paint. It’s strong and could damage delicate coatings and dull or damage the surface of plastics and some paints. It is always advisable to test in an inconspicuous place first.


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  1. Suzan says:

    Using matching color craft paint, paint over the paint spot following the pattern and matching colors. I did that on a curtain that had a black spot on it.

  2. Darlene Ernst says:

    Do you know if 99% alcohol is safe for automobile paint? I’d like to try your tip about defrosting my windshield but wondered about this.

  3. MN says:

    Simple Green does wonders for my hairspray build up. It’s safe to use around pets and pretty much all surfaces. I get it at Sam’s Club for about $8 for a gallon of the concentrate which you dilute with water and that gallon lasts well over a year because we use it all over the house.

  4. Annette says:

    I’ve found the best cleaner for tackling build up hairspray on a tile floor is Scrubbing Bubbles.., it quickly dissolved the glue. Using a sponge w/ a scrubby side gets rid of the mess quick and easy.

  5. Sherry Batson Flowers says:

    To prevent hair spray from falling on the floor and getting on your painted walls stand in the shower to spray your hair. To remove dried hair spray from the floor get a cloth wet with water and spread out over the floor. Spray will become soft and can easily be wiped up. Easy peasy!

  6. NF says:

    This works like a charm. In about 5 minutes, I had my countertop and fixtures super clean with almost no effort. I sprayed it on a microfiber cloth rather than directly on the surfaces. Keep away from paint, wallpaper, plastics acrylic/fiberglas, rubber seals. You can also use regular rubbing alcohol(70%) on a paper towel piece/cotton pad to clean the plug in oils diffusers like Glade or Airwick. Gets the dried on oils off. Let dry before plugging back in.

  7. Judy Swanson says:

    Okay Mary, I’m desperate. Got acrylic craft pain in teal on my favorite(of course) purple plaid shirt with light denim cotten cuffs. The paint smooge dried on the cuff area, as I never saw it until wash day. Tried everything the internet recommended and then some. In no particular order used, Dawn(straight up)…Spray and Wash…alcohol…acetone and probably even spit on it! Still there but lighter. Any suggestions?

    • Mary Hunt says:

      Hi Judy … Lacquer thinner should take it out. My only hesitation is that the stain may have been set with your attempts. But at this point you probably don’t have a lot to lose and that stain may easily be removed with laquer thinner (not paint thinner or mineral spirits). You can find it in the paint aisle of Home Depot or Lowes. Good luck!

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