14 Surprising New Uses for Alcohol Pads, Nurse Approved!

This article was republished with permission from SCRUBS Magazine.

As nurses, we end up accumulating tons of those little alcohol pads from work. These handy little sanitizing pads are for more than just cleaning off wounds and injection sites — they have a ton of great household uses you probably haven’t even thought of yet. Isopropyl alcohol pads are a super-useful way to clean and disinfect many household surfaces. Just about the only thing you can’t do is get drunk from them — it’s not as toxic as methanol or ethylene glycol, but it’s definitely not drinkable ethanol.

Here are some of the coolest new uses we’ve found for alcohol pads.

1) Write stuff down on your hands? Get it off with alcohol pads.

Nurses write tons of things down every day. When you can’t find your notepad, sometimes the second best thing is the back of your hand. Ballpoint ink and permanent marker don’t like to come off your skin, but alcohol pads can get those pen marks off much more effectively than soap and water.

2) Cleaning off blood.

If you’ve got a few drops of blood on you from a pricked finger or a papercut, alcohol gets it right off without smearing it. Their solvent properties can also keep the blood from settling into fabric, so it will wash out of your scrubs more easily.

3) Helping out nauseous patients.

Nausea is a pretty common symptom with a really broad differential, and we run into patients suffering from nausea all the time. Some of us have had our fair share of projectile vomit sprayed onto us. If your patient complains of nausea, you can help by putting an alcohol pad over the bridge of their nose. No one’s quite sure why this works, but many nurses swear by it.

4) Get hairspray off your mirror.

If you keep getting hairspray and other beauty products on your mirror at home, alcohol pads will get it right off.

5) Cleaning your Venetian blinds.

Venetian blinds collect dust almost as soon as you clean them, which can be frustrating. Alcohol pads can help clean them off, removing dust and discoloration from the slats. Just wrap a few alcohol pads around a small spatula or another flat tool, securing them with some tape or a rubber band. Now you have a magic wand that makes dust disappear from your blinds.

6) Cleaning household surfaces like counters and sinks.

If you’re out of standard cleaning solutions, or your counter has stubborn stains that won’t come out, try using a few alcohol pads. They’re great for cleaning non-porous household surfaces, and they also kill most common bacteria that might be present.

7) Wiping off shared surfaces at work.

Things like telephones, desk surfaces, and faucet handles at work can be a haven for nasty germs. You can use alcohol pads to clean them off, as long as the surfaces are made from a material that can withstand the alcohol. (It could take the finish off of wood.) This can help reduce the accidental spread of germs and bacteria, which is a serious issue in a healthcare setting.

8) Clean off your phone.

Is your smartphone getting a little grimy? You can safely clean it off with an alcohol pad from work, getting fingerprints and dirt off the screen and casing.

9) Remove ticks.

If one of your pets has ticks, or you’ve picked one up yourself on a weekend camping trip, alcohol pads can help you get them off. Rubbing the insect with an alcohol pad will make it loosen its grip, so you can simply pull it straight out.

10) Sterilize thermometers.

At home, germs from sickness get onto your digital thermometers. Use an alcohol pad to sanitize the tip, especially if you share your home with a spouse, children, or roommates.

11) Prevent athlete’s foot.

Cleaning off your feet daily with rubbing alcohol can help kill fungi and prevent you from developing a case of athlete’s foot.

12) Stop itching from mosquito bites.

Mosquitos swarm in the summer, and if you go outside, you can end up covered in itchy bites. Rubbing them with an alcohol pad can actually help relieve the itching, preventing you from scratching them and making them worse.

13) Clean stainless steel.

Alcohol pads can remove fingerprints and smudges from anything made out of stainless steel.

14) Remove odors from your hands.

Wiping down your hands with an alcohol pad can remove stubborn odors after handling smelly substances.

Alcohol Pads are Surprisingly Versatile

Alcohol pads are antibacterial and can act as a solvent, breaking down stubborn stains and odors. These surprisingly versatile little pads have a ton of surprising uses.

Have any interesting uses for handy-dandy alcohol pads? Share in the comments section below.

This article was republished with permission from SCRUBS Magazine.


  1. Here’s an idea. How about leaving them at work. Where they can be used as they’re supposed to be. Somebody paid for those alcohol pads, either through insurance money or tax payer money. Frankly, I am amazed the someone thought this was a good topic for this “professional” journal.

    • Pamela there is NO WHERE in the article that states we can steal alcohol pads from work. It’s nice that u uphold doing the right thing but just so u know, Alcohol pads are sold over the counter at any pharmacy/drug store. Relax….

  2. If you are sweaty, from running around, and your deodorant or antiperspirant fails, rip one open and apply to axillary area

  3. Alcohol pads are also a lifesaver when traveling – they clean almost anything in a hotel room or public bathrooms. I never leave home without them!

  4. A bit off topic but the smelly hands made me think of it…did you know you can get onion or garlic smell off your hands by rubbing them on the sides of your stainless steel sink, then wash them with soap and water. It really works. They actually sell a stainless steel thing like a bar of soap, that you can use to do the same, but why spend the money if you have stainless steel sinks.


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