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Does Rubbing Alcohol Stain Clothes?

Like most people, I wouldn’t be comfortable wearing stained clothes outside the house. The other day my favorite shirt got some juice splattered on it, and I had to do something quickly to get the stains out. After weighing my options, I resolved to use rubbing alcohol. However, after I was finished, my next worry was, does rubbing alcohol stain clothes?

As much as rubbing alcohol gets rid of certain stains on clothes, it can also leave behind stains of its own. These stains can be attributed to the forming ingredients in the alcohol, such as dyes. Additionally, just like other types of alcohol, rubbing alcohol contains a mild bleaching agent, which may be visible once you use it on your clothes.

In this article, we’ll look at how to remove stains using rubbing alcohol, and how to deal with the stains caused by using rubbing alcohol.

Does Rubbing Alcohol Stain Clothes

How Does Rubbing Alcohol Stain Clothes?

There are numerous methods and cleaners that you can use to get rid of stubborn stains from your furniture, clothes, carpets, rugs, and even leather items. However, it is important not to mix different cleaners or stain removers. Rubbing alcohol will get the job done efficiently. Nonetheless, it is also known to leave behind a film of stain on the clothing.

Rubbing alcohol is not purely isopropyl alcohol as it comprises other ingredients such as dye. This dye is largely responsible for the film of stain that remains on clothes when rubbing alcohol is used. These stains are usually referred to as rubbing alcohol dye stains.

In addition to the dye stains, sometimes the fabric may look bleached. The reason being that rubbing alcohol contains some traces of mild bleach, just like other forms of alcohol like isopropyl and vodka. That being said, there is a solution to these remnant stains which shall be discussed later in this article.

Another common worry for many people is whether using rubbing alcohol on cotton or carpet could also leave behind stains. First, cotton is one of the fabrics that are safe to use with rubbing alcohol. That is why when removing stains, it is recommended to blot them out using a cotton piece of cloth. Similarly, rubbing alcohol is safe for use on carpet stains; it does not leave any stains, nor will it tamper with the colors of the carpet. Many carpet cleaning professionals actually recommend it as a quick and safe way of dealing with stains on carpets.

Does Rubbing Alcohol Discolor/Bleach Clothes

Using rubbing alcohol for stain removal is a good choice as it will help get out the stains. However, there are two possible effects rubbing alcohol may have on fabric that you need to watch out for. Often called rubbing alcohol stains, one is a film of dye, and the other the possible bleaching as a result of the mild bleaching agent in the alcohol. The good news is that both stains can easily be dealt with. You can get rid of the dye stain and bleach marks using the steps outlined later in the article. These are tested methods, so you don’t need to worry too much.

How to Remove Rubbing Alcohol Stains from Clothes

Once you remove the juice, oil, or ink stains successfully using some rubbing alcohol, you may notice a film or bleaching. The sooner you address these new stains, the better.

The good news is that these rubbing alcohol stains will come out. Given that the dye was just transferred on the fabric means that it is loose and easy to remove. Here’s a step-by-step guide with helpful products to do an effective and harmless job.

Products Needed

  • Rit dye fixative for colored fabrics and Rit dye remover for whites
  • Soft cotton cloths/towels
  • Water
  • Soft brush


  • In a small bowl or cup, mix some water and dye fixative or remover respectively and stir to make a paste.
  • Locate the stain and spread some paste on it; let it sit there for some minutes.
  • Using a soft cloth, towel, or brush, gently scrub off the stain.
  • Once you are sure that the stain has come out, wash and rinse the cloth as usual and let it dry in the air. If you put the cloth in the drier and the stain had not come out properly, it will set in and become permanent. Thus, it is advisable to let it air dry so that if any missed stains become visible, you can still repeat the procedure and get them out.
  • When dealing with white clothes, you can soak the stained part in a mixture of bleach and water. Wash and rinse after the stain is gone.
  • For fresh stains, use a little elbow grease and some quality stain remover. Note that the dye can be stubborn at times, needing more than one attempt before removing it completely.

How Do You Remove The Bleach Stains Caused By Rubbing Alcohol?

Rubbing alcohol will do an effective job of removing certain stains such as ink and oil from the clothes. However, in the process, it can also loosen and remove the fabric dye. Once the dye has fallen off, the only remedy is replacing it. Here is a complete guide for achieving this.

Items Needed

  • Cotton cloths/balls
  • Fabric marker
  • Fabric dye
  • Rit color remover
  • Rubbing alcohol

Procedure 1

If you already used the rubbing alcohol and realized that some fabric dye has been bleached or removed, it means that the dye is loose. In this procedure, we’re going to use the rubbing alcohol again.

Take a cotton ball or piece of cloth and wet it with a little rubbing alcohol. Gently use it to rub the area surrounding the stained/bleached area. The cloth or cotton ball will absorb some loose dye. Now blot it directly on the bleached area and the dye absorbed will be transferred to this area.

Procedure 2

Another effective way to remedy a bleached fabric is to use a fabric marker of a similar color to the cloth. Gently apply the marker’s ink by brushing it lightly over the stain. Be careful not to use too much ink, but if it happens, you can blot out the excess ink using rubbing alcohol.

Procedure 3

The third way to restore a bleach stain would be dyeing the entire cloth. This may seem to be too costly and more time-consuming but some garments are worth it.

Simply buy a fabric dye of the same color as your garment. Using the Rit color remover, clear off the current dye on the garment, and then apply the new dye following the manufacturer’s specifications. Once done, you can then set the newly applied dye using Rit dye fixative.

Note that rubbing alcohol is poisonous and you should put on protective gloves and avoid inhaling its fumes.

How to Remove Stains Caused by Beer and Other Alcoholic Drinks

If you ever spill vodka or beer on your clothing, you want to get it out quickly before it does permanent damage. Most items of clothing are washable, so you’ll need some liquid laundry detergent plus rubbing alcohol, white vinegar, and some bleach. If you have some presoak product, that will help too.


  • Add a teaspoonful of the dishwashing detergent in warm water and mix in one teaspoon of white vinegar. Soak your cloth in this solution for roughly 15 minute before rinsing.
  • Using a sponge moisturized with rubbing alcohol, blot out the alcohol stain in light movements.
  • Proceed to soak the cloth again in another basin with warm water and an enzyme presoak cleaner of your choice.
  • If the alcohol /beer stain does not come out, wash the garment in oxygen or chlorine bleach if it is safe for the cloth.

The above alcohol/beer stain removal is for washable fabric only.

What about upholstery? If you have some alcohol stains on your upholstery, you are going to need rubbing alcohol and white vinegar.

Simply mix 2/3 cup with rubbing alcohol and a tablespoon of white vinegar. Wet or dampen a clean cloth with the solution and blot out the stain until it disappears. Instead of using vinegar and rubbing alcohol, you can use detergent, but still follow the same procedure.

How to Use Rubbing Alcohol to Remove Stains

Although there are many cleaners available for removing stains, rubbing alcohol is one of the most effective. It can tackle an array of stains including:

  • Ink spills
  • Oil
  • Grass stains whether on clothes or carpet
  • Permanent markers
  • Grease
  • Gravy
  • Mustard and many others

Here is a step-by-step procedure for removing stains using rubbing alcohol.

Step 1- Protect the rest of the clothing from getting rubbing alcohol on it. Only target the stain. Take a paper towel, fold it twice, and place it in the garment behind the stain.

Step 2-Pour a little rubbing alcohol on a clean sponge, cotton ball, or cotton cloth and blot it on the stain.

Step 3Turn the stained part upside down and replace the folded paper towel with a dry one. Continue blotting the stain using the alcohol dampened blotting cloth.

Step 4-Take some liquid laundry detergent and rub it gently on the stain using the clean cloth. Continue with this step until most or all of the stain disappears.

Step 5Wash the entire garment as usual following the care label of the garment. The stain should come out completely.

Use the above procedure for all types of washable items, including carpets and upholstery. Use fresh water and cloths to rinse and wash cleaning solutions out of items that don’t fit in the laundry.

Safety Measures to Observe When Using Rubbing Alcohol

Although rubbing alcohol is an effective stain remover, it may not be right for certain fabrics. It can cause fading and even some damage. Thus, you must be careful and test the fabric of the garment before using alcohol for stain removal.

Here are some precautionary measures to observe when using rubbing alcohol.

  • Never mix rubbing alcohol with bleach. This mixture will produce a toxic compound that can cause serious injuries to internal organs such as kidneys and liver.
  • Rubbing alcohol is a type of alcohol, so it is flammable. Do not use it near open flames as it would be a fire hazard.
  • Before you use rubbing alcohol, ensure that the room is well ventilated to avoid irritation by the fumes.
  • If you have any cuts on your hands or body, do not get rubbing alcohol near the wound. It can slow the healing process and even trigger irritation.
  • Rubbing alcohol is toxic, do not ingest it. For added safety, keep it away from children’s reach. Also, do not store it in a glass or container where it can be mistaken for water.

What Is the Difference Between Rubbing and Isopropyl Alcohol?

Rubbing alcohol is not pure isopropyl alcohol. It is an antiseptic containing more than 68% but less than 72% of isopropyl alcohol. The rest of the volume is filled with water which may or may not contain perfume oils, stabilizers, and color additives for use in drugs as per FDA certification.

The main difference between  isopropyl alcohol and rubbing alcohol is the denaturant components in the rubbing alcohol, which make it unsuitable for human consumption. Thus, it is suitable for household use. Simply put, we could say that rubbing alcohol is isopropyl alcohol but not pure because of the added components like water.


Rubbing alcohol is often used to remove stains. While it is quite effective, it can also leave some stains of its own depending on the fabric. It can even cause some bleaching. However, it is possible to get rid of the alcohol-caused stains and remedy any bleaching. Users should exercise caution and be mindful of the fabric as well. It is best to always treat a stain as soon as it occurs to increase the chances of it coming out.