Rubbing alcohol

Rubbing alcohol is the common name for a solution of isopropyl alcohol. This solvent is a top-notch degreaser as well as antiseptic agent. Mixed with water and a touch of detergent, alcohol does a fine job cleaning tobacco-smoke film off windows, mirrors and video screens. Isopropyl alcohol also does a great job dissolving ink spots from ballpoint pens or inkjet-printer cartridges.


Rubbing alcohol is most often sold as a 70-percent solution of isopropyl alcohol and water. Rubbing alcohol sometimes contains perfumes or lanolin as a moisturizer. Use brands without these ingredients for cleaning purposes.


As with many solvents, alcohol is highly poisonous and should be stored away from the reach of young children. It is also highly flammable and should be used in a well-ventilated area, since sufficient vapor concentrations can cause respiratory distress. Avoid using any alcohol solution near sparks or open flame. The pale bluish flame of ignited alcohol is very difficult to see under many lighting conditions, increasing fire hazards.

*UMass Lowell/TURI does not certify, endorse, recognize or recommend products.