What can you use in place of rubbing alcohol?

We’ve all been there – you need to clean a cut or sterilize something, but you’re fresh out of rubbing alcohol. Fear not! There are plenty of alternative options that can get the job done just as well. In this article, we’ll explore some unexpected substitutes for rubbing alcohol that might surprise you.


This household staple is more than just a salad dressing ingredient – it’s also great for cleaning and sanitizing. Mix equal parts vinegar and water to create a solution that can be used to clean surfaces or disinfect wounds. Plus, it has the added bonus of making your home smell like pickles.

Hydrogen Peroxide

Hydrogen peroxide may not be as commonly found around the house as vinegar, but it’s still a versatile substitute for rubbing alcohol. Just like with vinegar, mix equal parts hydrogen peroxide and water before use. It’s effective at killing bacteria and germs, and can even lighten hair if used repeatedly (though we don’t necessarily recommend using it for beauty treatments).

Witch Hazel

Witch hazel has long been known for its soothing properties on skin irritations such as bug bites and rashes. But did you know it can also act as an antiseptic? Apply directly to minor cuts or mix with water in order to wipe down surfaces.


Yes, you read that correctly – vodka can serve multiple purposes besides drinking (shocking). With its high alcohol content, vodka acts quite similarly to rubbing alcohol when used topically for disinfecting small wounds or instruments such as tweezers.

Tea Tree Oil

As unusual as this may sound, tea tree oil is actually derived from the leaves of an Australian plant called Melaleuca alternifolia and boasts natural antimicrobial properties which make it ideal for use in place of rubbing alcohol.

Baking Soda

If you’re out of rubbing alcohol and in desperate need of a solution to scrub away dirt and grime, baking soda is your new best friend. Not only does it provide good ‘ol elbow grease for those tough cleaning jobs, but when mixed with vinegar or hydrogen peroxide it can work wonders on disinfection.

Lemon Juice

This tangy citric acid-packed juice isn’t just a garnish match made in heaven for your summer cocktail. Thanks to its high acidity level, lemon juice can be used as an all-purpose cleaner around the house (as long as surfaces are safe for acidic solutions). Added bonus: if you squirt some on yourself while using it there’s now nothing separating you from being Beyoncé singing “lemonade”.

Essential Oils

Essential oils not only help create mood-boosting ambiance, but they also possess antibacterial properties that make them helpful substitutes when faced with no cleaning supplies lying around. Thyme oil, eucalyptus oil, and peppermint oil are just a few examples of potent essential oils that add extra oomph to homemade cleaning solutions.

Saltwater Solution

A classic saltwater solution has been shown time and again through history to be effective at clearing up minor wounds due to its intended osmotic action. So why not give this bit of salty-ness another round? A combination of warm water with two teaspoons of sea salt creates a powerhouse disinfectant perfect for small cuts or lingering acne scars.


One thing never changed – mouthwashes generally contain antiseptic ingredients such as phenol or cetylpyridinium chloride which lead manufacturers tout wil kill germs living within our oral cavities making mouthwash ideal of minimum grade 30% as alternative antimicrobial agent against reducing bacterial populations.


While rubbing alcohol may often seem like the go-to household disinfectant, there are many other options you have available in a pinch. Vinegar, hydrogen peroxide, witch hazel, vodka, tea tree oil and essential oils can all serve as substitutes that work well in their own unique ways. And if you’re really running out of options? Lemon juice and baking soda can scrape off grime easily while leaving your kitchen smelling like an absolute dream.

So don’t panic when the rubbing alcohol bottle is empty – with these alternative solutions by your side (literally), you’ll see there’s always another option waiting just within arm’s reach!