Does Isopropyl Alcohol Expire?

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Isopropyl alcohol, also known as rubbing alcohol, is a common household item. Most people know that it can be used to cleanse wounds.

But did you know that it can also expire? In this article, we will discuss the expiration date of isopropyl alcohol and what to do if it has expired.

Isopropyl alcohol does expire. The expiration date on the bottle is the best way to tell. Otherwise expiration can be indicated by a change of color (to yellow), a rancid odor or if partial evaporation has occurred.

Image of a bottle with blue liquid

How to Know When Rubbing Alcohol Expires

The most straightforward way to know when your isopropyl has expired is by looking at the expiration date on the rubbing alcohol bottle.

However, if you can’t find an expiration date, there are a few other ways to tell.

One way to tell if your rubbing alcohol has expired is by its color. If the rubbing alcohol is yellow or discolored, it has most likely expired and should be discarded.

Another way to tell if it has expired is by its odor. If the rubbing alcohol smells rancid or unpleasant, it has probably gone bad and should not be used.

Isopropyl alcohol evaporates quickly. So if you notice that your bottle of rubbing alcohol is less full than it was when you purchased it, this could be a sign that it has expired.

The bottle’s lid will slow down this process, but it won’t entirely halt it.

The shelf life of rubbing alcohol is usually between two and three years. However, if it is stored in an area that is too hot or too cold, the shelf life may be reduced.

Can I Use Expired Rubbing Alcohol?

If you have expired isopropyl alcohol but it has been well stored, you can possibly use it a year or two beyond its shelf life.

Make sure that it has been stored properly and that you use it with caution.

Keep an eye out for any irregularities. And keep in mind that the antimicrobial properties of rubbing alcohol will decrease over time, so it may not be as effective at cleaning wounds or killing germs.

How to Store Rubbing Alcohol Properly

It’s a good idea to extend the shelf life of your isopropyl alcohol by storing it properly. Here are some considerations for how to give your rubbing alcohol the longest life:

1. Minimize Surface Area

Photo of two small plastic spray bottles

When rubbing alcohol is exposed to air, it will evaporate quickly. To prevent this from happening, you should store your rubbing alcohol in a container with a small surface area.

A narrow container or a spray bottle is ideal for this purpose.

2. Seal Your Rubbing Alcohol Tightly

Keep your rubbing alcohol tightly sealed when you’re not using it. This will prevent evaporation as well as reduce the likelihood of contamination.

It will also make it harder for children and pets to get into the container.

3. Store Your Rubbing Alcohol In the Right Environment

Photo of a white empty cabinet

Rubbing alcohol should be stored in a cool, dry place. A cabinet or pantry is usually a good option.

Just make sure that it’s not in an area where the temperature fluctuates frequently. It’s also a good idea to keep it out of direct sunlight.

4. Keep It Out of Reach of Children and Pets

As with any household cleaning product, it’s important to keep your rubbing alcohol out of reach of children and pets.

You should also make sure that it is clearly labeled so that there is no confusion about what it is.

How to Dispose of Expired Rubbing Alcohol

Photo of a sink with flowing water

When you’re finished with your rubbing alcohol, make sure that you dispose of it properly.

It’s generally safe to pour it down the drain, but you should be cautious if you have pipes that are already corroded.

Run tap water before and after you pour the rubbing alcohol down the drain to help dilute it and prevent any damage.

Sun exposure breaks down many of the harmful chemicals in rubbing alcohol. The powerful UV rays work quickly and help to neutralize the alcohol.

This is why the shelf life of rubbing alcohol significantly decreases when stored in a sunny area.

You can leave the old rubbing alcohol in a container outside and expose it to the sun for several hours and then dispose of it by pouring it down the sink alongside some tap water.

This is the safest and most environmentally friendly way to get rid of it.

Using Rubbing Alcohol Safely

Photo of two hands of a woman holding spray bottle spraying liquid on her other hand

Now that you know how to store and dispose of rubbing alcohol, it’s important to learn how to use it safely. Here are some tips:

  • Wash your hands thoroughly before and after using rubbing alcohol.
  • Make sure that the area you are cleaning is well ventilated.
  • Never drink rubbing alcohol. It is poisonous.
  • Don’t use rubbing alcohol on open wounds.
  • Be careful not to get any in your eyes. If you do, flush them out with water immediately.
  • Keep rubbing alcohol away from heat and flames. It is flammable.
  • Never leave rubbing alcohol within reach of children or pets.

By following these simple tips, you can ensure that you are using rubbing alcohol safely and effectively.

Alternatives to Rubbing Alcohol

Image of four bottles with labels and a pair of hand with one hand holding a spray bottle

There are a few alternatives to rubbing alcohol that you can use for cleaning purposes. Each of these options has its own set of benefits and drawbacks.

You’ll need to decide which one is right for you based on your needs:

1. White Vinegar

This natural household disinfectant is effective at killing germs and bacteria. It’s also non-toxic and safe to use around children and pets.

However, it isn’t as strong as rubbing alcohol when it comes to cleaning and disinfecting.

2. Hydrogen Peroxide

This is a powerful disinfectant that is effective against a wide range of bacteria and viruses. It has a slightly longer shelf life than rubbing alcohol and can last for at least 3 years when unopened.

However, it can be corrosive and can cause damage to surfaces if not used properly. Make sure to check the strength of your hydrogen peroxide to decide if it’s safe to handle with your hands.

3. Witch Hazel

This is another natural option that is effective against bacteria and viruses. It’s also non-toxic and safe for use around children and pets.

However, like vinegar, it isn’t as strong as rubbing alcohol with its antimicrobial properties.

4. Lemon Juice

Lemon is a natural disinfectant because of its high acidity. It’s effective against bacteria and viruses, but it isn’t as strong as some of the other options on this list.

Since it is more convenient than many of the other options, it’s a good choice for light cleaning.

Final Thoughts

Now that you know all about the expiration date of isopropyl alcohol, you can be sure to use it safely and effectively.

Be sure to follow the tips above to ensure that your rubbing alcohol lasts as long as possible.

If you’re in doubt about whether or not your rubbing alcohol has expired, it’s always better to be safe and throw it out.

It’s better to be safe than sorry when it comes to using this powerful cleaning product.


About Emma

Hey there! I'm Emma. When I'm not wrangling kids I like to walk aimlessly around hardware stores and watch HGTV for hours on end.

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