Isopropyl alcohol is the most used type of alcohol on the market today. The most common concentration you'll find is 70% isopropyl which is best suited for general use and for disinfecting large surfaces.
Isopropyl comes in stronger concentrations as well which can go up to 99.9% isopropyl. Many people see the "99%" label and instantly think that it should do a better job than just 70%.
This is a huge mistake.
The Do's and Don'ts of 99 Isopropyl
Isopropyl alcohol concentrations have been formulated with specific uses in mind. Using such a highly concentrated form of alcohol can lead to costly — and even dangerous — problems.
To avoid any of these problems, read on and learn what you can and can't do with 99 isopropyl.
1. You Can Disinfect Most Surfaces and Instruments
The first thing you can do with 99 isopropyl is use it to disinfect most surfaces around your house or workplace. 99 isopropyl is a bactericide, fungicide, and mildewcide which means it can get rid of most germs.
This is why 99 isopropyl is used in hospitals, medical care centers, and in the manufacture of medical instruments. If you want to leave it more time to stay on a surface, you can dilute your 99 isopropyl with distilled water.
2. You Can Clean Electronics
Because 99 isopropyl is so close to being pure isopropyl alcohol, it dries quickly and leaves no residues. This means it’s perfect for cleaning objects that might otherwise be damaged by water — like electronics.
You just need a dab or a few drops of 99 isopropyl on a clean washcloth, cotton ball, or cotton swab and you can start cleaning. Make sure not to leave any fibers, though.
3. You Can Remove Freshly Spilled Ink on Cloth
Have you ever had those times when you had to hurriedly refill your fountain pen, permanent/whiteboard marker, printer, or copier and spill or splash ink on your clean white shirt or denim pants? Rather than going the rest of the day looking like a dalmatian, you can use 99 isopropyl to clean that ink before it dries.
Just place a paper towel under the stain and use a dropper to apply the alcohol on that spot. For larger stains, pour some alcohol in a basin or container and soak the stained area for at least 15 minutes.
If you want to remove permanent ink or ink residue from a whiteboard, just dip a washcloth or paper towel in 99 isopropyl and start wiping away. The ink should slowly disappear.
4. You Can Remove Residue from Glass and Metal
Another neat use for 99 isopropyl is to remove gunk and stains from glass and metal. Since 99 isopropyl removes oil and sticky residues, it’s perfect for removing stickers or adhesive marks on mirrors, glass, or chrome. You can also use 99 isopropyl to get rid of those stubborn soap stains or hard water stains on shower doors, tubs, or tiles.
Do you want to get rid of those oily fingerprints on your phone screen or case? Just wipe them away with some 99 isopropyl.
5. You Can Clean or Dehydrate Your Nails
Cleans nails look great. Polished nails look great too. If you’re a fan of both looks, then you should always have some 99 isopropyl around.
Not only can 99 isopropyl sanitize your hands, files, and working area, you can also use it as an economical nail dehydrator. Additionally, you can also use 99 isopropyl to remove the sticky layer of a gel top coat. You can even use it as a solvent to remove nail polish from your nails in a pinch when you run out of acetone.
6. You Can Dilute It for Other Uses
With all the above said, you can also use your 99 isopropyl in many more ways if you dilute it to a lower concentration. Doing so lets you make 70% isopropyl which is better for general disinfection and cleaning and can even defrost your frozen windshield.
You can also use it to make hand sanitizer by mixing it with some aloe gel.
7. You Definitely Can't Drink It
Now that you’ve learned what you can do with 99 food grade isopropyl alcohol, it’s time to learn what you can’t or shouldn’t.
First, you should never drink isopropyl alcohol in any concentration (99% or otherwise). 99 isopropyl can irritate skin and is highly toxic if ingested, hence the “for external use only” warning you typically find on every bottle.
This is especially important when you have kids around. Make sure to store your 99 isopropyl somewhere where they can’t get to it.
8. You Can't Use It In Without Proper Ventilation
99 isopropyl can cause nausea which can lead to vomiting when inhaled. This is why it's recommended to never use 99 isopropyl in an enclosed space without proper ventilation.
Open a window, use it near an exhaust fan, or use it outside to avoid the fumes. Additionally, you may also want to wear a respirator and some safety goggles for some added protection. It's always better to be safe than sorry when handling pure isopropyl.
9. You Can't Use It on Wood or Leather
As we’ve previously mentioned:
Pure 99.9 isopropyl alcohol food grade is great for disinfecting most surfaces. Two surfaces you should NEVER use it on, however, are wood and leather.
99 isopropyl is a solvent that can stain that antique tabletop, dissolve shellac and varnish, and even cause permanent damage to wooden surfaces. The longer alcohol stays on a wooden surface, the more damage it causes.
When it comes to leather, most leather products usually have a thin protective coating to keep their color deep and vibrant. 99 isopropyl can remove that coating as well as the dye underneath. So, if you’re thinking about disinfecting your vehicle, make sure to keep isopropyl away from the leather features and seat covers.
10. You Can't Store It Near Heat Sources or In Direct Sunlight
99 isopropyl is one of the purest forms of alcohol you can find. As such, it is flammable and should not be stored near heat sources (such as heaters, stoves, ovens) or in direct sunlight.
Instead, store it in a cool dry place away from children or pets.