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Best Rubbing Alcohol

Updated March 2024
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Best of the Best
Amazon Basics 70% Isopropyl Alcohol
Amazon Basics
70% Isopropyl Alcohol
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Best for Everyday Use
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A versatile product that can be used on a wide variety of cuts and scratches.


This option's 70% strength is great for use as a disinfectant on a wide variety of surfaces. The bottle is on the larger side, which makes it a great choice. It doesn't have a strong odor.


Doesn't come with a flip cap to control how much is used.

Best Bang for the Buck
Amazon Basics Ethyl Rubbing Alcohol
Amazon Basics
Ethyl Rubbing Alcohol
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More Gentle on Wounds
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An affordable option that can be applied for first aid uses.


Great for helping clean wounds so that they don't get infected. Less harsh than isopropyl varieties. Great for disinfecting many surfaces within the home. An affordable option for first aid use.


Has a strong smell that can affect sensitive consumers.

Hyrdrox 70 Percent Isopropyl Rubbing Alcohol
70 Percent Isopropyl Rubbing Alcohol
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Simple Yet Solid
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Worth a look if you only need one bottle or don't plan to use it frequently.


Classic product with a strength of 70% that makes it ideal for use as an antiseptic. Users also brag that it's an effective cleaner. Good quality. Formula is not watered down.


Price is on the high end for one bottle.

Caresour Advanced 75 Percent Alcohol Hand Sanitizer Wipes
Advanced 75 Percent Alcohol Hand Sanitizer Wipes
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Convenient Wipes
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If you don't mind using an ethanol product for cleaning purposes, you'll appreciate these wipes' potency and packaging.


Great for keeping hands clean on the go. Wipes are infused with 75% ethanol and come in packages with sealing lids to keep them fresh. Comes in a 4-pack.


Contains ethanol, which may be irritating to some users. Smell isn't very pleasant.

Vaxxen Labs 99% Isopropyl Alcohol
Vaxxen Labs
99% Isopropyl Alcohol
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For Special Occasions
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A stronger option that is well-suited for disinfecting surfaces and removing nail polish.


Manufactured in the U.S. It is considered medical-grade, which makes it great for sterilization of any equipment. Evaporates without leaving a residue on the surface it was applied to.


The design of the bottle makes it hard to pour.

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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and all opinions about the products are our own. About BestReviews  
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We recommend these products based on an intensive research process that's designed to cut through the noise and find the top products in this space. Guided by experts, we spend hours looking into the factors that matter, to bring you these selections.

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Buying guide for Best rubbing alcohol

Now more than ever, people are realizing how important cleaning and disinfecting are when it comes to staying healthy. If you can kill viruses and bacteria on a surface where they typically thrive, there's less chance of them infecting your body. One of the safest and best ways to do that is by using rubbing alcohol.

The right rubbing alcohol can kill germs in seconds, making your home a safer environment. Additionally, it can be used for a wide variety of other important tasks ranging from deodorizing your shoes to removing stubborn stains. With the right recipe, you can even turn rubbing alcohol into your own homemade hand sanitizer.

rubbing alcohol1
A solution containing equal parts rubbing alcohol and white vinegar can be used in the ear to help prevent swimmer's ear, ear infections, and blockages.

Key considerations

Type of alcohol

There are two main types of rubbing alcohol: isopropyl alcohol and ethyl alcohol. Despite the chemical differences between these two types, when used as a disinfectant, their performance is roughly the same. 

Isopropyl alcohol: The active ingredient in common household rubbing alcohol is most often isopropyl alcohol. What makes isopropyl more desirable than ethyl alcohol is the fact that it evaporates more quickly, and, when it’s gone, it doesn't leave behind any oily residue. This type of alcohol is never to be ingested. Drinking isopropyl alcohol can cause vomiting, diarrhea, bleeding in the stomach and intestines, dehydration, low blood pressure, shock, coma, and even death. 

Ethyl alcohol: Though not as common, rubbing alcohol can also be manufactured with ethyl alcohol. While this is the same type of alcohol that’s found in adult beverages, when used as a disinfectant (in rubbing alcohol) it is in such high concentration that a single glass is lethal. Furthermore, additional toxins are added during the denaturing process to help ensure you never even think about consuming it.


The main distinction between the two types of rubbing alcohol is the percentage of alcohol in the solution. For disinfectant purposes, the percentage usually ranges from 60% to 90% (or more). 

It’s important to understand that a higher percentage of alcohol does not translate to a more effective product. As a matter of fact, 70% is generally considered to be ideal because alcohol alone doesn’t kill germs very efficiently. Water is the critical element that allows alcohol to disinfect. If there isn’t enough water in the solution, the alcohol won’t be as efficient at eradicating germs. Do not be swayed by brands that boast a 90% solution, especially if they’re charging more for it than the 70% solution, because the latter is the better product.

rubbing alcohol2
Rubbing alcohol should never be used on wood surfaces because it acts as a solvent. Just a small amount can ruin varnished or stained surfaces.



How much rubbing alcohol do you need? You can find containers in sizes from 8 ounces to a gallon. While you can save money by getting larger quantities, it does have a shelf life. If you won't be able to use all of it by the product's expiration date, it’s better to get a smaller container. In general, rubbing alcohol has a shelf life of a couple of years.


If you plan on using a large amount of rubbing alcohol, another way to save money is to get a multipack. Instead of a 1-gallon jug, for instance, you can choose eight 16-ounce bottles. Not only will the smaller bottles be easier to handle, but for most people, they’ll be easier to store as well.


If you prefer to have your rubbing alcohol in a more convenient form, such as saturated on wipes, that is an option as well. If you’re considering wipes, remember that you’ll be paying more for this convenience.

It’s important to keep the container of rubbing alcohol tightly sealed to prevent evaporation.


Make your own hand sanitizer

If you're having a hard time finding hand sanitizer or you'd just like to make your own, it's really not that difficult. In fact, you can make it using only two or three ingredients. The following are the instructions for making your own hand sanitizer.

  1. Pour 2/3 cup rubbing alcohol and 1/3 cup aloe vera gel in a clean bowl.
  2. Add a few drops of your favorite essential oil (to mask the odor of the alcohol).
  3. Whisk the ingredients together.
  4. Pour the solution into a clean bottle. 

Rubbing alcohol prices

Before the coronavirus pandemic, rubbing alcohol was a relatively inexpensive product. A 16-ounce bottle cost less than $2. However, because of high demand, it can be difficult to find rubbing alcohol at those lower prices now. For instance, a 16-ounce bottle of rubbing alcohol can cost as much as $15 or more. It’s important to compare prices to find the best price by volume. You can often save money by selecting a larger container or multipack.

rubbing alcohol3
Never mix rubbing alcohol with bleach. The mixture creates a potentially lethal gas that can damage the liver, kidneys, brain, heart and even bone marrow.


Most people are interested in rubbing alcohol because they want to use it as a disinfectant. However, the product has a wide range of uses, especially when it comes to household cleaning tasks. The following are a few of the more common uses.

  • Deodorize shoes: Often, bacteria are the reason for smelly shoes. Since rubbing alcohol kills bacteria, it can be effectively used to deodorize shoes. Just spray a little inside your shoes and let them air-dry.
  • Clean sponges: If you have a smelly sponge, simply pour some rubbing alcohol on it, put it in a sealed container, and let it sit for at least an hour.
  • Clean electronic devices: Liquids and electronics do not mix. However, you still need to clean the devices that can harbor harmful bacteria. The best option is to dip a soft cloth into rubbing alcohol and use it to gently wipe down your device.
  • Disinfect makeup brushes: The best way to clean your makeup brushes is to swirl them around in a small container of rubbing alcohol, rinse them in warm water, then place the brushes on a towel to air-dry.
  • Defrost your windshield: If you'd like a quick way to get rid of frost on your windshield, mix one part water to two parts rubbing alcohol in a spray bottle. Spraying this on your windshield makes the frost easier to remove.
  • Remove stickers: If there is a sticker on a surface that won't be damaged by rubbing alcohol, saturate the sticker and let it sit for a few minutes. After that, you should be able to just wipe it away.
  • Remove stains: Some of the most stubborn stains can be removed with rubbing alcohol. Before treating the stain, it’s best to moisten a cotton ball and dab it on an inconspicuous part of the clothing. After it dries, if the fabric is unharmed, you can use rubbing alcohol on the stained area.
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Besides storing rubbing alcohol out of reach of children and pets, you must keep it away from open flames because it’s highly flammable.


Q. How does alcohol kill germs?

A. In short, bacteria, viruses, and fungi are surrounded by a fat membrane that keeps the core components safe. Alcohol molecules have a proclivity for bonding with fat. When they bond, they break down the fat membrane that’s protecting the germs. Once exposed, the germs can die in as little as 10 seconds. If you do a quick wipe down and dry immediately, the alcohol will not have a chance to work and the germs may linger. Additionally, it’s important to remember that germs can’t die unless they have been in direct contact with alcohol, which is why thorough cleaning is important.

Q. Which is better for cleaning hands: soap or rubbing alcohol?

A. While rubbing alcohol is a great option, soap is better. Soap is specifically designed to break down the outer membrane of bacteria and viruses. The vigorous action required to work up a lather creates the friction that’s needed to lift grime and microbes off your skin so the running water can wash them away. If you don’t have access to soap and running water, or if using soap and water would be impractical in a particular situation, then rubbing alcohol is a great backup choice. 

Q. Does rubbing alcohol kills all germs?

A. While rubbing alcohol is effective at killing a wide variety of germs, there are a few bacteria, such as Enterococcus faecalis, that are becoming more resistant to alcohol-based disinfectants. Additionally, rubbing alcohol won’t work on bacteria spores, a dormant form of bacteria that helps the organism survive in adverse environmental conditions.