Isopropanol: A safe cleaning chemical

What is relatively non-toxic, does not leave any residue, is environmentally friendly, is an antiseptic, keeps well, cheap, commonly available and can be used as a cleaning agent?

My answer? Isopropanol (or isopropyl alcohol, rubbing alcohol).

Now I am nowhere near the first to realize this fact and there are many people out there who is using it for the same purpose as well. A quick online search will list a lot of articles detailing its use, such as this one.

I was searching for such a chemical after I realized that a number of harmful chemicals make their way into us through cleaning agents. It is not a surprise that a typical cleaning agent is bad for just about all parties involved (except the manufacturer). For example, Triclosan is linked to allergies. Chlorine in bleaches, well, is highly toxic. Then you have those unnamed surfactants, solvents hiding in the products.

A casual look at so-called “green” cleaning products reveal an equally incomprehensible cocktail of chemicals. Being “green” just means they can be broken down at the end by natural agents, such as sunlight or bacteria. It is another matter if it gets into the body though.

It was relatively sudden that I realized that I can use Isopropanol as a cleaning agent. This was somewhat an independent discovery. Prior to this realization, I didn’t know of the articles online detailing its use. Those articles did expand my knowledge on what it can be used on though. I had some issues removing oil from my kitchen counter and figured an alcohol might do the job…And pronto, Isoproponol comes to the rescue.

Now Isopropanol stinks literally. It is not gentle on the hands either. Since it dissolves just about any oil you can find in a kitchen, it will also dissolve the protecting oils on your hands. Wear gloves or extended exposure will cause skin dehydration. Inhaling a lot of it will cause issues too but easily avoided by keeping the area well-ventilated. Or just hold your breath. However, your body knows how to deal with it and can detoxify it easily. Flushed down the drain, nature will take care of it within a couple of days.  When done, just wipe across with a wet cloth and nothing gets left behind. The fact that it is antiseptic as well is a bonus.

In other words, this ONE simple chemical does the job of most of the cleaning agents that can be found in a typical supermarket shelf, does the job of cleaning better and safer to boot too.

What’s not to like?


I use it at home to:

  1. Spot clean floors, both hardwood and tiled. Certain hardwood finish do not work well with isopropanol and will be destroyed by it.
  2. Cleaning kitchen counters.
  3. Cleaning food/oil residue on utensils.
  4. Removing sticky residue from stickers.
  5. Removing ink stains from floors, walls and skin. Helps with kids around.
  6. Cleaning sponge disinfectant.
  7. Cleaning kitchen sinks.
  8. Original purpose…wound antiseptic.

 

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