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When we talk about cleaning and sanitizing solutions, there are two products that come up time and time again: Isopropyl Alcohol and Ethanol. Both Isopropyl Alcohol and Ethanol come packed with a variety of fail-safe cleaning properties, but we’re often asked about which one is better. 

The truth is, Isopropyl Alcohol and Ethanol are both incredibly useful cleaning and sanitizing solutions in their own right. So the answer to this question really depends on what the products are being used to clean or sanitize, and which particular properties are preferred. 

If you’re weighing up the pros and cons of Isopropyl Alcohol and Ethanol, but remain unsure as to which option to go for, read on. We’ll take you through some of the key benefits of these different solutions so you’ll be able to choose the best product for the job. 

What is Isopropyl Alcohol?

Isopropyl alcohol is a chemical compound that’s widely used in a variety of different products. It’s a colourless solution which is highly flammable, and it has a distinct odour. One of the main reasons why you’ll see the solution being used, though, is its great cleaning capabilities. 

Isopropyl alcohol appears as an ingredient in a huge array of well-known household cleaning products, from detergents to disinfectants. It’s also a highly reliable disinfectant, so you’ll find a bottle of it in the kitchen cupboards of most homeowners. 

What is Ethanol? 

Ethanol is the chemical name for a simple alcohol. It can be called a number of different things, from alcohol to ethyl alcohol and grain alcohol. It’s got a strong smell which tends to help distinguish it from other clear solutions, and like isopropyl alcohol it’s also highly flammable. Made by fermenting either yeast or sugars, ethanol is the ingredient you'll find in alcoholic drinks. But it’s got other uses besides this, some of which are incredibly important. 

In medical situations, ethanol is a go to product. The solution is used as an antiseptic and a disinfectant, helping to keep areas free of germs and bacteria. It can be applied to the skin prior to any surgeries or vaccinations, and it’s used to clean high-traffic areas and keep treatment rooms safe for vulnerable patients. Ethanol can also be used as a fuel source, so it has uses far beyond that of a simple cleaning solution. 

What do we mean by cleaning and sanitizing? 

When we talk about cleaning and sanitizing, there’s sometimes a tendency to lump the two terms together. But they actually have quite different meanings. 

Cleaning refers to the process of removing any substance that isn’t wanted, whether that be something like dirt, which doesn’t pose a huge threat, or something that’s potentially more dangerous. Many surfaces can be cleaned without the use of specific cleaning solutions, but often cleaning solutions are used to aid the process and provide a better end result. 

Sanitizing is a little different to your typical cleaning process. In this process, we are removing potential contaminants. The contaminants being removed will vary considerably depending on what is being sanitized, and where the process is taking place. They’re used in kitchens, before food is prepared, as well as in medical environments, shops, schools and on public transport.

In the context of the past year’s global pandemic we’ve heard much talk of sanitizing solutions, and seen them in far more widespread use. In the current climate, sanitizing solutions are being used to rid surfaces of virus-carrying droplets, whilst also removing any dangerous bacteria or fungi that could also be lurking on different surfaces. Sanitizing solutions are also widely used on skin, for example hand sanitizers are now being used to help stop the spread of viruses like the coronavirus. 

Cleaning and sanitizing: our recommendation

If you’re thinking about the best product to use when cleaning and sanitizing your house, you’ll probably be considering both Isopropyl Alcohol and Ethanol. While the names of these solutions are quite different, they are remarkably similar when it comes to their cleaning and sanitizing capabilities. That’s why you’ll find a mixture of both solutions listed as ingredients on many top selling hand sanitizers being used today. 

If it’s bacteria and viruses that you’re looking to target, you may prefer to use ethanol. Ethanol is a trusted and reliable chemical which helps to destroy these harmful particles. It can be used to sanitize a wide range of different surfaces, either in the home or the workplace. It’s also safe to use on skin. 

If you’re thinking of using Isopropyl Alcohol, you’ll need to pay attention to the strength of the solution in question. The concentration of alcohol in isopropyl alcohol solutions makes a real difference to how well it removes dangerous particles, so it’s worth looking into the different options available to find out more about which solutions might be best for your needs. 

Some Isopropyl Alcohol solutions have a far higher concentration of alcohol. This affects how they should be used. Bear in mind that any solution with alcohol content of 60% - 90% can be used as a disinfectant. Solutions with alcohol content of 50% or lower are less effective, however. If alcohol content tops 90%, effectiveness can also be diminished as the solution evaporates too quickly, meaning it doesn’t have time to remove harmful particles. 


Whether you’re looking for a new go-to cleaning solution that’s guaranteed to get the job done with minimal effort, or you’re searching for a great sanitizing solution that you can rely on to keep your family safe, you’ll want to hear all about the properties of Isopropyl Alcohol and Ethanol. 

Both Isopropyl Alcohol and Ethanol provide outstanding cleaning capabilities, but they’re also great at sanitizing surfaces and removing the dangerous particles that can cause real damage to our health. Think about how you’ll be using the products and read up on some of the key benefits of different types of cleaning and sanitizing solutions. Once you have this information to hand, you’ll be able to choose the best option for the job. 

If you’d like to learn more about what you can use Isopropyl Alcohol and Ethanol for, don’t hesitate to get in touch.

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