How to Get Rid of the Smell of Rubbing Alcohol

Rubbing alcohol serves a variety of useful functions around the house. You can use it as a disinfectant, to eliminate unpleasant smells and to clean earring posts. Its strong odor, however, tends to linger both in the air and on anything you use it on. Inhaling too much rubbing alcohol can cause headaches, dizziness and other unpleasant effects. The best strategy for removing rubbing alcohol odors depends partially on the item you've used rubbing alcohol on, but there are effective strategies for eliminating the smell.

Rubbing alcohol
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Rubbing alcohol is often used as a household cleaner.

Removing Rubbing Alcohol

The first step in eliminating rubbing alcohol's odor requires removing any excess rubbing alcohol from upholstery, counter tops and other locations. The disinfectant and deodorant properties of rubbing alcohol do not require that it remain present on the item. To remove rubbing alcohol from nonporous surfaces, rinse with water or swipe with a damp washcloth. If rubbing alcohol is on upholstery, use a paper towel to absorb any excess rubbing alcohol, then wipe with a damp washcloth.

Ventilation

The smell of rubbing alcohol frequently lingers in the air even after all traces of the chemical are gone. Open the doors to all of the rooms in your home. This allows the smell to disperse and become less potent. Open a window to increase ventilation and use a fan to speed up the removal of the smell.

Masking

The odor of rubbing alcohol frequently dissipates after it dries. If the smell lingers even after ventilating your home and removing excess alcohol, masking the smell can be effective. Odor removal sprays, which are readily available at most drugstores and supermarkets, can effectively mask the smell of rubbing alcohol until it goes away on its own. Avoid using perfumes and air fresheners, which can actually increase the unpleasant smell.

Precautions

Never place clothes stained with rubbing alcohol in the washing machine. Instead, hand wash the clothes until any lingering smell of rubbing alcohol is gone. Doing otherwise may create a fire hazard. Also, avoid wearing clothes stained with rubbing alcohol. Be cautious about lighting matches or starting a fire in your fireplace while the smell lingers. Rubbing alcohol is mildly flammable and can start a fire if an area is thoroughly saturated with it.