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5 Alternatives to Disinfecting with Alcohol

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Disinfecting with Alcohol

Rubbing or isopropyl alcohol is one of the most common household chemicals because of its many uses, from disinfecting insect bites and reducing body odor to cleaning makeup brushes and disinfecting hard surfaces.

Besides being an effective cleanser and disinfectant, isopropyl alcohol also works well in relieving minor muscle aches and pains.

Although this in-demand household product offers numerous benefits and appears relatively safe, it is worth noting that it is still a very potent substance that could cause severe medical conditions when ingested. If you are concerned about the dangers of drinking rubbing alcohol because you have kids at home or merely exploring other products with similar disinfecting benefits as alcohol, here are several alternatives you may want to consider.

White Vinegar

If you are looking for an accessible alternative to alcohol, head to your kitchen and take a bottle of white vinegar and you are all set. Vinegar is not only a must-have for cooking. It is also a powerful cleanser and disinfectant because it is made from acetic acid, a colorless organic liquid that you can also find in commercially manufactured household cleaning products.

White vinegar can cut through grease and wax buildup and remove mildew, unpleasant odors, and stains. Its high acidity is also effective in reducing bacteria on hard surfaces. A study published in the Infection Control and Hospital Epidemiology[1] journal found that vinegar can eliminate household pathogens, such as Escherichia coli (E. coli) and Staphylococcus aureus, which is the leading cause of skin and soft tissue infections.

Perhaps you use rubbing alcohol to address minor skin issues like poison ivy rash. If so, know that you can rely on vinegar to provide the same soothing effects. It is essential to point out that vinegar has antimicrobial properties[2] that could be useful in treating nail fungus, head lice, warts, and ear infections. However, it is best to consult with your doctor before using it for treatment purposes.

Hydrogen Peroxide

You probably think about minor cuts and wounds when you hear hydrogen peroxide because this product is the go-to antiseptic for many decades. Although hydrogen peroxide is no longer recommended by doctors today for such uses, it remains a valuable household chemical because of its disinfectant, antiviral, and anti-bacterial properties.

Did you know that healthcare facilities use hydrogen peroxide for disinfection and sterilization? If it is good enough for such establishments, it would certainly do wonders in your own home as well. To give you an idea, here are some of the uses of hydrogen peroxide that make it comparable or even better than rubbing alcohol:

  • You can use it to sanitize your toothbrush, retainer, and makeup brushes.
  • Use a quarter cup of 3 percent hydrogen peroxide per gallon of water to remove bacteria from vegetables and fruits.
  • You can use it to eliminate E. coli and Salmonella bacteria on hard surfaces, such as countertops and cutting boards.
  • Spray hydrogen peroxide on the rubber seals, crevices of the utensil baskets, and other parts of your washing machine where moisture tends to stay long after a cycle is complete to get rid of mold and mildew.
  • You can use it to remove germs and bacteria in garbage cans.

Chlorine Bleach

Chlorine bleach, a water solution of sodium hypochlorite, is another product that you can try in place of alcohol, especially if disinfecting is your primary concern. Just like hydrogen peroxide, chlorine bleach solutions are also used in medical facilities and nursing homes for sterilizing to prevent the spread of infectious diseases among patients and healthcare workers.

If you are only using bleach when doing the laundry to make your white clothes whiter, you are really missing out. A chlorine bleach solution is an effective and inexpensive surface disinfectant. You can use it to eliminate foodborne germs like E. coli and Salmonella on cutting boards, countertops, and other kitchen surfaces. Bleach is also helpful for disinfecting high-touch surfaces in your living space during flu season as it can deter the spread of the flu virus.

Lemon

Lemon is rich in citric acid that works wonders in removing stains from marble countertops and soap scum in your kitchen and bathroom. It is also effective in brightening dull aluminum pots and pans and for deodorizing microwaves and garbage disposals. While lemon may not be an effective disinfecting agent on its own like alcohol, a mixture of lemon juice and vinegar may help reduce the number of pathogens like Salmonella typhimurium[3] in the kitchen.

Soap

Although it may not seem fancy enough, using soap and water is an effective alternative to rubbing alcohol when it comes to getting rid of germs and viruses that have attached themselves to your hands or high-touch surfaces. In fact, washing your hands with soap and water is the best way to eliminate all types of germs and chemicals on your hands that could cause diseases, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)[4].

Using soap or detergent to clean countertops and other surfaces in your home can also kill and remove illness-causing germs. Essentially, the detergent breaks up the protein coating of the virus until it falls apart and dies.

The items discussed above are just some of the products you can use instead of rubbing alcohol, especially if your primary concern is disinfecting at home. Although they are not as versatile as alcohol, each one has its own merits. Figure out your cleaning and disinfecting needs, and you will surely find a suitable household item that matches your requirements.

[1] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/10656352/

[2] https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/1750-3841.12434

[3] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/15454320/

[4] https://www.cdc.gov/handwashing/faqs.html

 

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