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Question from D. M.

I came across a recipe for a homemade shower cleaner using equal parts water, vinegar, rubbing alcohol and a couple drops of liquid dish detergent. Is rubbing alcohol a non toxic ingredient to use for cleaning?

Thanks for your reply and I am looking forward to receiving your e-newsletter as I’m always looking for non toxic ways to take care of our home and ourselves. I make some cleaning and body care products myself. Any that I have to buy I get from the health store and I check those ingredient labels!!

Thanks also for what you do to help educate people and make the environment cleaner and greener.

Debra’s Answer

I don’t consider rubbing alcohol to be a nontoxic ingredient to use for cleaning. The chemical name for rubbing alchol is isopropyl alcohol. The Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) for isopropyl alcohol says “No significant effects beyond minor irritation are expected” for skin exposure, but if some accidentally gets splashed in the eye it can cause “Severe irritation and discomfort” and “Reversible and/or irreversible corneal damage may occur”.

From inhalation, “Respiratory tract irritation and/or headaches possible. Significant systemic toxic effects are likely following repeated exposure to high concentrations.”

I’m concerned about using isopropyl especially as a shower cleaner, as a shower is a small area with little ventilation. Therefore you would have a greater chance of inhaling a higher concentration of the alcohol.

I think your recipe would work without the rubbing alcohol. If you have problems with soap scum buildup, your water is probably too hard. Rather than using a toxic chemical, you could get a salt-free water conditioner from Go Beyond Organic.

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