Rubbing alcohol is used for several things in households. As we don’t use them more often, sometimes it makes us think that rubbing alcohol goes bad and it expires.
So the answer is, yes, it does. Rubbing alcohol is made up of 70% isopropyl alcohol and 30% water. The water content will start to evaporate over time, making the rubbing alcohol less effective. It is important to pay attention to the expiration date on the bottle and finish it before that date. The good news is that it is usually safe for several years after the expiration date as long as it has been stored properly in an unopened container.
Even if the Rubbing Alcohol solution has an expiration date, it can still be used for cleaning and disinfecting purposes up to a year or two beyond the expiration date. The effectiveness of the solution will diminish gradually over time. Storing expired isopropyl alcohol can reduce its effectiveness over time. If you use a bottle of expired isopropyl alcohol, it may not work as intended or could cause harm to your skin.
5 Warning Signs That Your Rubbing Alcohol Gone Bad
As the rubbing alcohol gets older, its chemical structure begins to break down and it begins to evaporate over time. This evaporation process happens faster in areas with higher humidity and water levels in the air. The 99% dilute isopropanol starts at 99%, but as it sits on the shelf, it will dilute further, due to the hygroscopic nature of the solution which sucks in moisture from the air. So it is very important to look for the signs that can tell if the rubbing alcohol has gone bad, 5 important warning signs are:-
1. Pungent odor
Rubbing alcohol has a sharp and musty odor, if it starts smelling pungent then it has gone bad.
2. Discoloration or cloudiness in the liquid
Rubbing alcohol has a water-like appearance and if it shows cloudiness then it is an indication that it has gone bad and you should not use it.
3. Thickening of the liquid
If you observe any change in the consistency of the rubbing alcohol then you should take it as a warning sign.
4. Change in color
If there is any sharp color change then it is an indicator of the chemical reaction and now the alcohol should not be used as it has gone bad.
5. Partial evaporation
If the volume of the alcohol is reduced then consider it as well as a warning sign. If you notice any of these signs then it’s time to toss out your bottle and buy a new one. (Reference 1)
Tips To Store Rubbing Alcohol
So, now you know that isopropyl alcohol often referred to as rubbing alcohol, does expire. Below are the tips to store rubbing alcohol.
- Keep it in a cool place and away from sources of ignition.
- Containers used should be fire-rated for at least two hours.
- Rubbing alcohol can also be put in a spray bottle and used to disinfect points of contact or other areas that may have been exposed to germs.
- Rubbing alcohol should be stored in a dry place away from direct sunlight.
- It’s also important to keep the bottle tightly sealed when not in use. This will help prevent any evaporation of the isopropyl alcohol content.
What Happens If You Use Expired Rubbing Alcohol?
When the rubbing alcohol expires, it becomes less effective and it can cause various problems also. Using expired rubbing alcohol can be dangerous as it may no longer have the same antimicrobial properties or effectiveness as fresh rubbing alcohol does when used for cleaning surfaces or treating wounds or cuts. If the rubbing alcohol has gone bad, it can change too much alcohol, causing toxicity. It may become an ethanol kind of alcohol, which is unpopular for skin use. Other toxic alcohols including ethylene glycol and methanol may be present in the mixture as well. The presence of these other toxic chemicals can cause impaired judgment ability and change the normal function of people’s feelings, including pleasure judgment. It is important to always check the ingredients label to make sure you are using pure isopropyl alcohol and not any other type of alcohol because they can cause toxicity if used on the skin. (Reference 2)
Some Interesting Facts About The Rubbing Alcohol
Some interesting facts about rubbing alcohol are:-
- It is an effective disinfectant used in many households. It can be used to disinfect tick bites and clean your blinds.
- It can be used to remove permanent marker stains from surfaces.
- Some rubbing alcohols contain medically inactive additives such as fragrance and oil methyl salicylate, which gives it a wintergreen smell.
- It is an ideal product to use for cleaning windows or glass surfaces in your home.
- Its quick drying properties make it great for quickly polishing mirrors.
Q1. How long is rubbing alcohol good for once opened?
Ans. Rubbing alcohol is good for two to three years once opened. After that it starts evaporating.
Q2. Can you pour rubbing alcohol down the drain?
Ans. Yes you can only pour rubbing alcohol down the drain if it is diluted and its concentration is less. After draining the alcohol, you need to pour a lot of water so that it becomes diluted. If the concentration of the alcohol is high, it will damage the sewage.
Q3. Does alcohol expire after 10 years?
Ans. If the bottle is unopened then it has an indefinite shelf life but once the bottle is opened, it starts losing its flavour and stays good for two to three years.
Our mission is to provide accurate and researched insights to our readers. Thus, we wish to share the references of the studies conducted on the subject matter for detailed read for our readers to refer:
- Isopropyl alcohol https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK208299/
- Using expired alcohol https://nj.gov/health/eoh/rtkweb/documents/fs/1076.pdf
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