Best Isopropyl Alcohol

Updated June 2021
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We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

35 Models Considered
12 Hours Researched
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190 Consumers Consulted
Zero products received from manufacturers.

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

Buying guide for Best isopropyl alcohol

When searching for a disinfectant, it’s hard to go wrong with isopropyl alcohol. Used in everything from kitchens and bathrooms to hospitals and electronics manufacturing, isopropyl alcohol can seemingly do it all. Not only is it a disinfectant, but it can also be used to clean, sterilize, and remove moisture from computer components, and it’s one of the primary ingredients in a variety of commercial hand sanitizers (and a must-have if you choose to create your own hand sanitizer).

When you set out to purchase isopropyl alcohol, you will quickly find a range of options, from size and purity to price and bottle features. In this guide, we break those options down so you can have an easy time shopping and feel confident about your purchase.

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There are a variety of types of alcohol, including ethyl alcohol (used in liquor), denatured alcohol, methanol (wood alcohol), and isopropyl alcohol.

Key considerations

Packaging: While you will typically find isopropyl alcohol in bottle form, you may also find it in the form of wipes or prep pads. However, the bottled form is what we focus on in this review.

Size: Bottles of isopropyl alcohol can range from several ounces to 5 gallons or more. While some sellers only offer their product in one size, the majority offer a variety of sizes to meet various needs. In some cases, you can get a multipack with several bottles. Bottom line: when shopping for isopropyl alcohol, know the amount you are actually buying, and be sure that it fits your needs.

Purity: While you may need to dilute isopropyl alcohol with water for some uses, it typically ships with a 99% or 99.9% purity rating. There is little difference between the two (just under 1% of moisture content), but importantly, this difference can be significant for some uses. For example, 99.9% isopropyl alcohol is stronger and dries faster; it’s the formula often used for cleaning purposes. For other uses, however, the 99% and 99.9% varieties are interchangeable.

Odor: All isopropyl alcohols have a noticeable alcoholic odor, though some may be stronger than others. Your best bet to minimize odor is to use the alcohol in a well-ventilated area. This is an important safety precaution as well.

Country of origin: Production of isopropyl alcohol in the United States typically must meet quality standards that other countries may not be subjected to. One way to be sure your isopropyl alcohol is contamination- and methane-free is to purchase from a U.S. manufacturer.

DYK1
Did You Know?
Rubbing alcohol is actually isopropyl alcohol diluted with water.
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Features

Seal: All bottles of isopropyl alcohol should be sealed when received. This should not only prevent leakage, it should also hinder others from tampering with the bottle. As isopropyl alcohol can evaporate easily, a seal will help keep it from literally disappearing on you en route. If a bottle arrives with a broken seal, contact the seller or manufacturer for a replacement.

Bottle top: The majority of isopropyl alcohol bottles ship with a simple cap. To use, simply unscrew the cap, remove the seal, and pour the liquid onto a cloth, sponge, or wherever you need it to go.

A bottle with a cap top can be inadequate for some uses, such as cleaning or drying computer parts. For tasks like these, look for a bottle with a spray top. While fairly rare for isopropyl alcohol bottles, a spray top can deploy a fine spray that’s easier to use and results in faster drying.

Bottle: As long as you don’t expose it to flame, isopropyl alcohol is pretty stable and can be stored in a variety of container types. Purchased online or in a store, isopropyl alcohol typically comes in a plastic bottle.
 

Isopropyl alcohol is also known as isopropanol, or IPA.

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Isopropyl alcohol prices

Isopropyl alcohol prices start around $9 and can reach $15 or more. Much of the price difference is based on bottle size or the number of bottles received per order.

Lower cost: In terms of bottles, isopropyl alcohol at lower price points (between $9 and $13) usually comes in bottles of 8 to 16 ounces. Isopropyl alcohol in this price range is typically 99% pure and can be used for a variety of purposes.

Higher cost: Isopropyl alcohol that costs $13 and over often ships in larger containers or in multiples (for example, three bottles to an order). You will typically pay a little more for 99.9% purity, which is useful for cleaning electronics.

If you go through a fair amount of isopropyl alcohol, you are generally better off going with a larger bottle, as this will lower your cost per fluid ounce.

 

DYK3
Did You Know?
Isopropyl alcohol is often added to automotive fuel to help remove water from fuel lines.
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BestReviews

Tips
 

  • You will probably have several options in terms of quantity. Consider how much you will use and how fast you will go through it to determine whether buying a larger container would save you money.
  • Occasionally, bottles are not completely filled when you receive them. This could be due to faulty seals or the manufacturer failing to fill the bottle all the way.
  • Store your isopropyl alcohol in a sealed container in a dry, cool, well-ventilated space. Due to its highly flammable nature, this is important.
  • Isopropyl can be used to remove glue residue such as that left by stickers. Soak a cotton ball with isopropyl alcohol, and apply it to the residue. After a few seconds, the residue should begin to break down and can be wiped off.
  • Isopropyl alcohol is hazardous to the human body. If it splashes in your eyes, flush your eyes for 20 minutes with water, and seek medical attention. If it is ingested, dilute it by drinking one to two glasses of water and immediately seek medical attention.
  • Never mix isopropyl alcohol or rubbing alcohol with bleach. This creates the toxic compound chloroform, which can cause a variety of serious health issues.
  • Do not use isopropyl alcohol on finished surfaces. It is a solvent that can ruin finishes such as paint and varnish.
  • Isopropyl alcohol can dry the skin. As such, it is often combined with something like aloe vera when used in skin products.
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Isopropyl alcohol and methanol are both poisonous, but even ethyl alcohol — found in beer, alcohol, and liquor — is considered toxic and can result in death.

FAQ

Q. What should I know about the flammability and toxicity of isopropyl alcohol?

A. While it may look like water, isopropyl alcohol can be dangerous. It is extremely flammable; even the vapors can catch fire. As such, isopropyl alcohol should never be used around open flames, sparks, or other sources that could easily ignite it.

Furthermore, isopropyl alcohol can be toxic and even fatal if ingested, inhaled, or absorbed through the skin. Take precautions when handling it. These precautions should include:

  • only using isopropyl alcohol in a well-ventilated area
  • washing your hands after coming into contact with isopropyl alcohol
  • avoiding splashing isopropyl alcohol into your eyes or mouth
  • keeping isopropyl alcohol out of the reach of children
  • storing isopropyl alcohol properly when not using it

Q. Can isopropyl alcohol be used to create hand sanitizer?

A. Isopropyl alcohol is the main ingredient in a large number of hand sanitizers, and you can use it to create your own. Often, it is used in conjunction with aloe vera gel and essential oil to make homemade hand sanitizer.

Q. Can I use isopropyl alcohol as a sanitizer/disinfectant?

A. Isopropyl alcohol is an effective sanitizer, but it should be diluted with water first for the best results. Water mixed with isopropyl alcohol acts as a catalyst, resulting in a much more effective sanitizer than a straight-up isopropyl alcohol solution. To use isopropyl alcohol in this way, dilute it to a 70% solution with water.
 

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