Does Alcohol Kill Germs? – How to Use Alcohol as a Disinfectant

In the midst of the new coronavirus pandemic, finding the right cleaning products in your area may be more difficult than usual – and if you isolate yourself and avoid regular shopping in stores, you may be wondering how to use the items you have on hand to clean your home. You can see alcohol on the active ingredient list on the labels of most all-purpose cleaners, and you may know that rubbing alcohol is often used in hand sanitizers to neutralize germs. But not all alcohols are created equal when it comes to disinfection, even though health professionals have used forms of alcohol to sterilize and clean for hundreds of years. The truth is that you need to use a particular type of alcohol to really disinfect the germs that can spread infection and disease.

Does Alcohol Kill Germs?
Does Alcohol Kill Germs?

If you are wondering about disinfecting your skin, a word of caution: nothing is better to prevent the spread of germs than simply washing your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Professionals from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention maintain that a hand sanitizer containing at least 60% alcohol can be used when you are outside your home and away from a sink, but use alcohol, such as vodka, for cleaning your hands alone is absolutely not recommended.

Still hoping to use alcohol or alcohol-based products to disinfect your surfaces? Here’s what you need to know before you get started.

Should I disinfect surfaces with alcohol?

You can disinfect hard objects and objects in your home using regular rubbing alcohol. Found in stores or online, bottled rubbing alcohol is most often made from isopropyl alcohol, a colorless solution that often has a very strong odor. Mixtures that contain at least 70% alcohol are best if they can come from, and these mixtures can neutralize viruses and other bacteria on a surface if they are left wet for at least 30 seconds.

Rubbing Alcohol

But you shouldn’t consider cleaning your entire house with rubbing alcohol, as these mixtures can be difficult to use effectively when covering large areas. Why? Mixtures that contain more alcohol, although stronger, can evaporate too quickly from surfaces to actually neutralize germs on that surface. While small items with non-porous surfaces, such as house keys or even the surface of a toilet handle, can often be kept wet long enough by reapplying rubbing alcohol, it would be much more difficult to do on a larger surface, not to mention the whole. House.

Disinfect Non-Porous Surfaces

The best way to disinfect your entire home would be to use an EPA approved disinfectant, but if you can’t find these products, bleach might be your next best bet. According to CDC advice, an easy way to disinfect non-porous surfaces is to combine 1/3 cup of regular bleach (sodium hypochlorite) per gallon of water.

For smaller batches, use 4 teaspoons of regular bleach and 1 liter of water. You will need to leave the surface wet for at least five minutes, allowing it to air dry, before rinsing all surfaces with warm water afterward. Be careful not to splash the bleach solution on your clothes or in your eyes, and use it sparingly on sinks and stainless steel surfaces. It is also important to note that the bleach and water solution should be refreshed each day that you use it.

Can I use alcohol to clean my house?

Let’s get straight to the point: no. The types of liquors you use to create your favorite cocktails are not concentrated enough to disinfect surfaces and effectively kill germs and bacteria. Most commercial forms of vodka, for example, contain alcohol concentrations that hover around 40%. Disinfectants that can kill germs have a much higher alcohol concentration which is made very differently from the types of alcohol humans drink orally.

If you encounter a version of an alcoholic product and plan to use it to disinfect, it must contain at least 70% alcohol before even considering using it.

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