Alcohol swabs are individually wrapped pads made of a cotton-type material and saturated with 70 percent isopropyl alcohol. They are tightly sealed in an aluminum paper packet that keeps them sterile and prevents them from drying out. Alcohol swabs are made by several manufactures throughout the world and come in a variety of sizes.


Alcohol swabs are commonly found in hospitals, clinics and first-aid kits. They are most often used to clean the skin before an injection is given or blood is drawn. Cleansing the area with the swab helps prevent bacteria from entering the body and causing an infection. Alcohol swabs should be used only once and never shared with other people.

Other Uses

Alcohol swabs can be used to clean the skin when soap and water are not available. They can be used to clean small cuts, scrapes and bug bites as well as new blisters.


Never use alcohol swabs to reduce a fever. Do not use alcohol swabs on sensitive skin; it will cause redness, dryness and irritation. Alcohol swabs should never be used in the eyes or nose. Do not use alcohol swabs on deep puncture wounds or bites. Always be cautious near open flames, because alcohol swabs are flammable.