Can Vodka Be Used As a Disinfectant?

Vodka is a safe and effective alternative to commercial disinfectants.

Vodka is a distilled ethyl alcohol spirit, routinely made from fermented potatoes or grains, such as barley, wheat or rye. Vodka's high alcohol content, averaging 40 percent, makes it an effective germ killer. Its clear and odorless properties make it a more attractive choice to use as a disinfectant than other spirits, such as whiskey. While the thought of wasting vodka by using it as a disinfectant may cause a shudder in some, vodka may be a green alternative to commercial disinfectants.

Surface Cleaning

Mix one-part vodka to four-parts water to create a disinfecting surface cleaner. You can use less water to create a quicker-drying formula. Pour the mixture into an empty spray bottle and you are ready to go. The formula can be sprayed on any non-porous surface to disinfect and clean. Since the mixture is chemical-free, it is safe to use around food products or children's toys. Use undiluted vodka on bathroom grout to kill bacteria that promote mold and mildew. Soak used razors in pure vodka to disinfect the blades and prevent rust.

Treating Wounds

Alcohol of any kind should never be used on an open wound. Alcohol has the ability to kill exposed tissue as well as germs. This may delay healing. However, in a situation where standard first aid equipment is not available, vodka may be used to clean dirt from the surrounding area of a wound. Vodka may also be used to disinfect equipment used to treat an open wound.


Vodka is an effective way to freshen clothes without laundering. Vodka kills odor-producing bacteria. Simply spritz undiluted vodka onto the clothing and allow it to dry in a well-ventilated area. The dried vodka is odor-free. Vodka may be added directly to the washing machine to disinfect clothing. It is an attractive alternative to bleach, especially when washing colored clothes as vodka will not cause fading or color bleeding. Allow the washing machine to fill with water then add 1/4-cup of vodka to the wash. Stop the cycle and soak the clothing for approximately 20 minutes. Complete the washing cycle as normal.

Air Disinfectant

Vodka makes an attractive alternative to commercially-prepared air deodorizers. Many commercial products simply replace one odor with another. Vodka kills odor-causing germs and does not leave a lingering aroma. Mix 1 cup of vodka with 3 cups of water in a spray bottle. You can add a fragrance to the mixture by including optional ingredients, such as citric acid powder or grapefruit seed extract. Spray into the air to freshen a room. It can also be safely used on carpets, bed linens and most upholstery to remove odors.


Judy Prather

Judy Prather began writing fiction in earnest in 2004. Writing as J.A. Anderson, Prather's debut novel, "Stolen Memories," was published in 2007. She also has experience as a therapeutic recreation specialist. Prather holds a bachelor's degree in therapeutic recreation from Winona State University.