How Does Isopropyl Rubbing Alcohol Rate as a Cleaner?
The good news is, if used correctly, Isopropyl Rubbing Alcohol (70% by volume) is a good sanitizer. The bad news is it is a very poor cleaner. Although it has a small effect on some salts and grease, it has no detergent properties, thus it doesn’t clean well.
The 70% by volume on labels for Isopropyl Rubbing Alcohol means the bottle contains a solution of 70% isopropyl alcohol to 30% water. Isopropyl Rubbing Alcohol at varying concentrations has industrial and healthcare applications as a surface disinfectant and a handwash sanitizer gel. It has a strong odor and is considered a volatile organic compound, making it very uncomfortable (and dangerous) to inhale for any length of time and causing concerns with air quality. It also evaporates easily in open air. Like all types of alcohol, it is highly flammable and unsafe to use near heat sources and sparks or open flames.
The 70% isopropyl alcohol/30% water concentration is ideal for bactericidal activity, and it can also inactivate fungi and some viruses. One main disadvantage is that after the surface is cleaned, Isopropyl Rubbing Alcohol takes about one to five minutes of dwell time on a surface to disinfect (it acts against different germs at different speeds). Unfortunately, it dries in 20 to 30 seconds, causing incomplete disinfection unless it is constantly reapplied for the whole five minutes. Another disadvantage is it can damage some surfaces like rubber, vinyl and some plastics.
How to Use as a Sanitizer: First, clean the surface you wish to sanitize, then spray the Isopropyl Rubbing Alcohol on the surface. Keep the surface wet for five minutes by continuing to spray any areas that look like they are evaporating.
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