How to Dispose of Rubbing Alcohol?

How to dispose of Rubbing Alcohol?

Rubbing Alcohol has used more than one can think of in our day-to-day life. This chemical works magically, from cleaning the tough grease to disinfecting the worst viruses.

However, like any other Chemical solvent, it too comes with an expiry date or shell life. And once the limit for the same cross, one must dispose of Rubbing Alcohol. But the question is, “How to throw away Rubbing (Isopropyl)Alcohol”?

Here’s all about how you can safely dispose of Rubbing Alcohol. Read it further to learn different methods and processes.

Is Isopropyl Alcohol a hazardous waste?

Isopropyl Alcohol does not come under the list of RCRA hazardous waste chemicals. However, that doesn’t mean you should not count it as hazardous.

Isopropyl in its pure and unwatery form can prove hazardous. When you pour it down in the soil, it can hamper its fertility or spread toxicity in plants. That is why disposing of it in the open and in nature is strongly discouraged.

How to Dispose of Rubbing Alcohol in a few Simple Steps

Disposing of Rubbing Alcohol isn’t rocket science but a process that requires thoughtfulness. Like several other liquids, you cannot just throw it over the soil or let it run loose into the outdoor environment.

However, with a few precautions, you can dispose of it without playing with the environment. Here’s how,

ways to dispose of Rubbing Alcohol

Method 1: Run down the Rubbing Alcohol into your Drain

If you have a lesser amount of Rubbing Alcohol left for disposing of, you can drain it into the sink. Here’s the step-by-step explanation for the same:

  • Open your water tap and let it run.
  • Now pour the Rubbing Alcohol into the sink.
  • Keep the water tap on, and make sure you run it for the next 5 minutes at least. It will help the Alcohol dilute, which further will incorporate in lessening down any of its possible effects.
CAUTION: Avoid running warm/ hot water before or after pouring Rubbing Alcohol at all costs. If done, it can lead to fire as Rubbing Alcohol is a flammable solvent.

Method 2: Throw it in the trash

If you have a bottle full of Rubbing Alcohol left with you, then you can throw it in the trash. Here’s the step-by-step explanation for the same:

  • If the seal for a bottle is broken, close its cap tightly.
  • Make sure the container has a label stating “Rubbing/ IsopropylAlcohol.” If not, use a separate label or permanent marker and label the bottle with clear instructions.
  • While you can throw it in the trash and let know the trash collector, you can also hand the bottle separately to those individuals. Do mention that the solvent is expired and meant for disposing of.

Method 3: Take it to household hazardous waste site

If you have a bottle full of Rubbing Alcohol (open or seal), you can take it to a household hazardous waste site. Here’s the step-by-step explanation for the same:

Every city or town has a drop-off center or collection facility that takes common household solvents and medicines.

They further have facilities where such items are decomposed or recycled by their rightful methods.

Hence, check online for such services nearby. You can contact them. They will either come to your place and collect the bottle of Rubbing Alcohol or ask you to visit them.

Method 4: Instead of disposing of, use Rubbing Alcohol at an outdoor fireplace/ firepit

Rubbing Alcohol is highly flammable, which makes it both a dangerous and a handy solvent.

If the Isopropyl bottle at your home has gone past its shelf life, you can also use it for lighting fire instead of disposing of it.

However, it is not safe to use Rubbing Alcohol as a flammable solvent indoors. Instead, you can pour it over your outdoor firepits (over wood) and light them thereafter.

Though for the first 10 minutes, stay at a safer distance from the firepit and avoid inhaling that sudden smoke.

Is Rubbing Alcohol Safe for septic tanks?

Yes, if it is in small amounts, Rubbing Alcohol is safe for Septic tanks. Anything that is soluble, including Rubbing Alcohol, will not harm your Septic tank.  However, disposing the same in high quality and frequently is not recommended.

For times when you dispose of gallons of Rubbing Alcohol into the septic tank, it can disrupt its bacterial balance. This further can lead to unmanageable problems. However, a small bottle of Rubbing Alcohol will do no harm to your Septic tank.

Can you flush Rubbing Alcohol down the toilet?

Flushing Rubbing Alcohol down the toilet is completely safe. Though make sure it is diluted, is in less quantity, and a septic tank system serves your toilet. However, if you have Rubbing Alcohol in a larger quantity, then avoid draining it down the toilet.

What happens is, when you flush down chemicals like Isopropyl and other medical solvents, they go into your wastewater system. When in low quantity, they possess no harm.

However, they can disrupt the bacterial balance down there when in high quantity. With it, you might further have to get all your septic tanks open and fixed by professionals.

Is it safe to use Rubbing Alcohol past its expiration date?

Even though Rubbing Alcohol has a long shelf life, it too crosses its expiration date. While a new bottle of Rubbing Alcohol will have a higher percentage of Isopropanol. In comparison, an expired bottle will likely have a lower percentage of Isopropanol.

You can still use the Rubbing Alcohol solution for cleaning and disinfecting purposes, regardless of its expiration date. It won’t totally kill the germs and bacteria but will still do the basic job of cleaning.

However, for medicinal use, Rubbing Alcohol which is past then its shelf life is not ideal. Using an expired Rubbing Alcohol solution on your skin might pose multiple risks.

All in all, using Rubbing Alcohol past its expiration date depends upon the purpose. Until and unless you aren’t using it on your body, the solution will pose no risk.

For Further Reading

Wrapping up…

This was all about disposing of Rubbing Alcohol the right way.

All the information given above will help you dispose of Alcohol while still keeping the environment healthy.

Before ending this up, we encourage you to use the Rubbing Alcohol solution before it expires. Even after its expiration date, you can still bring it to use for cleaning and disinfecting surfaces.

This way, no proportion of this solvent will go down into your drain. However, if you still want to get rid of it, the options are enough and great to go with.

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