7 Household Products That Contain Alcohol and How to Use Them Safely

Alcohol is not just present in beverages like beer and liquor. You can also find it in common household item!

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While the alcohol content in these products is regulated, they can still lead to serious issues like alcohol poisoning if large doses are consumed by humans and pets.

Stomach pains, dizziness, and slowed breathing are some of the most common symptoms of alcohol poisoning. They may appear immediately after consumption or can take a few hours to show. Since these symptoms can also occur with other illnesses, knowing which household products contain alcohol can help you use them safely and identify when possible alcohol poisoning has occurred.

Rubbing Alcohol

Also known as isopropyl alcohol, rubbing alcohol is a versatile household item. It’s included in most first aid kits as an antiseptic for sanitizing tweezers or cleaning small cuts. However, you shouldn’t use it on large areas of the skin or to clean wounds and more serious injuries. Alcohol can also be used at home as an all-around cleaning agent for removing dirt and grime as well as to disinfect surfaces. The use of rubbing alcohol as a hand sanitizer also rose when the global pandemic started. Using alcohol makes it possible to maintain good hand hygiene when handwashing is not an option.

To be effective, hands and surfaces need to stay wet with alcohol for 30 seconds. You may need to do this a couple of times because alcohol evaporates quickly. Also, never mix rubbing alcohol with bleach because it can create a dangerous chemical called chloroform. Chloroform can damage your liver, kidneys, brain, heart, and bone marrow.

Since it is a colorless liquid, rubbing alcohol can be mistaken for water, especially by small children. To avoid this, make sure to understand the dangers of drinking rubbing alcohol by reading the safety label and avoid transferring them from their original containers. 

Mouthwash

The alcohol found in mouthwash helps eliminate bacteria that cause foul breath. To make the taste more pleasant, many types of mouthwash contain added flavoring agents. Because of this, some children may find mouthwash appealing and drink them—which can lead to intoxication. It’s best to keep your mouthwash in a spot where young children won’t be able to access them like on a high shelf or your medicine cabinet. You can also purchase mouthwashes with child-safe caps that your kids can’t easily open and secure the cap after every use.

Perfume

Unlike the type found in liquors, the alcohol percentage in many colognes and perfumes is about 50 to 99 percent to help spread the perfume oils. Manufacturers use denatured alcohol to make them taste terrible and deter adults and children from consuming these items. Although it’s rare for anyone to abuse fragrance products, there are reports of it happening. In case you suspect anyone in your household to be abusing perfumes, seek professional help immediately.

Cough Syrup

Many cough syrups are sold as over-the-counter (OTC) medication to treat symptoms of colds or flu. Normally, cough syrups contain 10 to 40 percent alcohol. To avoid intoxication and alcohol poisoning, follow the dosage instructions on the label or get your physician’s advice on proper and safe consumption.

Also, liquid cold and cough medicines have dextromethorphan (DXM), which is popular among teens who want to get an easy and affordable euphoric feeling. When taken in large amounts, DXM can cause hallucinations and have serious side effects like distorted awareness and altered perception. If you live with a teen, warn them about the dangers of abusing OTC medicines. Some teens think they are safer to consume because they are sold legally. At home, take precautions like keeping track of the medicines you have and not buying extra OTC drugs just to stock up. Don’t let your kids keep OTC medicines in their bedroom or backpack and remember to use all types of medicines responsibly yourself.

Disinfectant Wipes

The alcohol in disinfectant wipes helps clean surfaces and kill germs. Before using the product, make sure to read the safety label. When using the wipes, wear gloves as some formulas can be harmful to the skin. Remember to wash your hands thoroughly after touching the wipes. To ensure the surface is disinfected, allow it to stay wet for two minutes. Once the contact time is up, rinse off the disinfectant, especially if the surface will come into contact with food to avoid accidental ingestion.

Multi-Purpose Cleaners

Many all-purpose cleaners are also used to disinfect various surfaces including in the kitchen, bathroom, and living room. Sometimes, they are diluted with water to mop floors. They are also great for keeping countertops, faucets, and frequently touched surfaces cleaner longer. To be effective against bacteria and viruses, make sure the surface remains wet for 10 minutes before you dry it off. When using multi-purpose cleaners, keep the area you are cleaning ventilated by opening windows. If you have pets, keep them in a different room while you are mopping and wipe off the cleaner from surfaces they can reach.

Alcohol can be found in common household products. Although they help keep you and your home clean, they can still be toxic when mixed with other chemicals or when ingested in large amounts. You and your family can be at risk if you don’t learn to use these products safely. Always check the safety label and use the products as directed. In case of accidental consumption, seek immediate medical help.