Rubbing alcohol and hydrogen peroxide are both antiseptics and disinfectants. Although they are similar, they should not be used in place of one another and care should be used when using either product. Rubbing alcohol is usually a mixture of water and isopropyl alcohol that is commonly rubbed on the skin. Hydrogen peroxide has one more oxygen atom than water, and is normally sold to the general public in a 3 percent solution with water.
Rubbing Alcohol Uses
Rubbing alcohol is commonly used as an antiseptic solution. It is often used to remove bacteria from medical devices. It is also frequently used by medical professionals to cleanse the skin of germs before piercing the skin. Rubbing alcohol has many non-medical uses including tick removal and cleaning sticky substances. Electronic devices may also be wiped with rubbing alcohol as it evaporates quickly and cleans well.
Hydrogen Peroxide Uses
Hydrogen peroxide is a disinfecting solution, but is also known as a bleaching agent and stain remover. Some people use it as an oral rinse, as its bleaching properties may result in whiter teeth. Hydrogen peroxide can also be a source of oxygen therapy for your plants by mixing 1 ounce of peroxide with 1 quart of water and applying to household plants. Hydrogen peroxide is also used by physicians to help treat emphysema patients through oral inhalation or intravenous injections.
Due to the antiseptic properties of both rubbing alcohol and hydrogen peroxide, they are regularly used on cuts, scrapes and wounds. However, overuse of these disinfectants can be poisonous to the cells and may kill healthy tissue. Hydrogen peroxide can also help loosen debris in wounds with its bubbling action.
Rubbing Alcohol Warnings
Rubbing alcohol is considered a flammable product and care should be used to assure that it is kept away from heat or fire sources. Avoid contact with your eyes. Avoid pouring rubbing alcohol into deep wounds -- this could cause damage by dehydrating the skin.
Hydrogen Peroxide Warnings
If using hydrogen peroxide as an oral rinse, do not swallow the liquid. Deep wounds should not be exposed to this product and it should be kept away from the eyes. Do not use this solution in any medical manner other than use on minor cuts without the direction of a physician.
- Infection Control and Hospital Epidemiology: Effects of Preoperative Skin Preparation on Postoperative Wound Infection Rates -- A Prospective Study of 3 Skin Preparation Protocols
- Journal of Clinical Microbiology: Isopropyl Alcohol Compared with Isopropyl Alcohol plus Povidone-Iodine as Skin Preparation for Prevention of Blood Culture Contamination
- Journal of Indian Society of Periodontology: Effect of Hydrogen Peroxide Mouthwash as an Adjunct to Chlorhexidine on Stains and Plaque
Matt Berry is a radiologic technologist who started writing professionally in 2007. He specializes in health and medical articles and has been published in "Radiologic Technology." Berry holds a Bachelor of Science in radiology technology from Mount Marty College and is credentialed in radiography and computed tomography with the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists.