Does rubbing alcohol expire?

What is the definition of rubbing alcohol?

Rubbing alcohol is colorless and transparent. It has a strong, acrimonious odor.

Isopropanol, generally known as isopropyl alcohol, is the major component in rubbing alcohol. The majority of rubbing alcohol contains at least 60% isopropanol, with the rest being water.

Antimicrobial properties of isopropanol To put it another way, it kills bacteria and germs. Its primary function is to disinfect your skin and other surfaces.

The higher the proportion of isopropanol in a disinfectant, the more effective it is.

How’s it used?

If you’ve ever had an injection or blood drawn, rubbing alcohol was most likely used to clean your skin before the procedure. When you apply it to your skin, it feels cool.

Many hand sanitizers, including liquids, gels, foams, and wipes, use isopropyl alcohol as a component.

Hand sanitizers can help stop viruses like the new coronavirus from spreading, as well as seasonal cold and flu bacteria.

Hand sanitizer is less effective than cleaning your hands with soap and water if your hands are clearly unclean or greasy.

Any alcohol-based hand massage that contains at least 70%Trusted Source isopropanol or 60% ethanol is recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

You can also disinfect high-touch surfaces in your home with rubbing alcohol applied to a microfiber cloth or cotton swab, such as:

  • Your mobile phone
  • Door handles
  • Light switches
  • Keyboards for computers
  • Controls through remote
  • faucets
  • Railings on the stairs
  • Appliances such as the refrigerator, oven, and microwave have handles.

Does it have an expiration date?

There is a shelf life for rubbing alcohol. The date should be displayed on the bottle or label directly.


The expiration date varies by manufacturer and might range from 2 to 3 years from the date of production.

Because isopropanol evaporates when exposed to air, while water persists, rubbing alcohol expires. As a result, the amount of isopropanol in the solution can drop over time, making it less effective.

Isopropanol evaporation is difficult to avoid. Even if the bottle is kept closed the majority of the time, air can still sneak in.

Is it okay to use rubbing alcohol after it has expired?

When comparing rubbing alcohol that hasn’t expired to rubbing alcohol that hasn’t expired, the percentage of isopropanol in expired rubbing alcohol is likely to be smaller. It may not be completely effective at killing germs and bacteria, despite the presence of isopropanol.

In some cases, it may be preferable to taking no action at all.

If you don’t have any household disinfectant on hand, for example, you can clean your home’s surfaces using expired rubbing alcohol. However, keep in mind that it might not eliminate all of the bacteria on these surfaces.

Similarly, using expired rubbing alcohol to clean your hands may help to remove some germs, but it most likely won’t be fully effective.

You should refrain from touching your face or other surfaces until you’ve fully washed your hands with soap and water. You can also use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer to clean your hands.

When used for medical purposes, expired rubbing alcohol can be dangerous. Using outdated rubbing alcohol to wipe your skin before an injection could be dangerous. It’s also not a good idea to treat a wound with outdated rubbing alcohol.

What factors can influence the efficacy of rubbing alcohol?

In general, the older the rubbing alcohol gets, the less effective it becomes. The length of time that rubbing alcohol lasts depends on a few factors.

It’s sealed in this way. Isopropanol will evaporate considerably faster if you leave the cap off your bottle of rubbing alcohol than if you keep it on.
The area of the surface. If rubbing alcohol is exposed to air across a larger surface area, such as if it is poured into a shallow dish, it will evaporate faster. The amount of rubbing alcohol exposed to air can be reduced by storing it in a tall bottle.
Temperature. The rate of evaporation increases as the temperature rises. To slow evaporation, keep your rubbing alcohol in a cool spot.

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How to safely use rubbing alcohol

When using rubbing alcohol, take the following precautions:

Make sure you don’t get rubbing alcohol in your eyes or nose. If you do, give the region a 15-minute rinse with cool water.
It is combustible to use rubbing alcohol. Fire, sparks, electrical outlets, candles, and heat should all be avoided.
Before using rubbing alcohol to clean major wounds, burns, or animal attacks, get medical advice.
When ingested, isopropanol can be toxic. If you’ve taken isopropanol, dial 911 or go to the nearest emergency room right away.

Last but not least

The expiration date for rubbing alcohol is usually printed on the bottle or on the label.

Rubbing alcohol has a two- to three-year shelf life. After then, the alcohol begins to evaporate, and its ability to kill germs and bacteria may be compromised.

To be safe, it’s best to use rubbing alcohol that hasn’t expired. To disinfect your hands, you can also use soap and water or an alcohol-based hand rub that contains at least 70 percent isopropanol or 60 percent ethanol.

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