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Can You Mix Laundry Detergent and Rubbing Alcohol? (Why not?)

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When you think about the contents of household cleaners, they are just chemicals. That’s why you need to be very careful about mixing them, or else you could have an adverse chemical reaction. One combination that you need to be wary of is laundry detergent and rubbing alcohol.

You can’t mix laundry detergent with rubbing alcohol as it can cause a dangerous chemical reaction or a possible fire. The reaction can also irritate your skin and eyes and damage your clothes. Also, you shouldn’t mix rubbing alcohol with bleach either, as it can create toxic fumes.

The rest of this article will explain a few topics related to this question in great detail, including details about putting rubbing alcohol in your laundry, putting rubbing alcohol in your washing machine, and better alternatives for fighting tough stains. So let’s dive into the details! 

Can You Put Rubbing Alcohol in Your Laundry?

Not all laundry detergents have the same level of effectiveness, and they don’t all work the same way. However, adding chemicals to your detergent isn’t always the best solution.

You need to be careful about what you add to your laundry detergent because you’re essentially adding one chemical compound to another, which can be dangerous. 

You should not add rubbing alcohol to your laundry — one reason is that it could potentially cause a fire. Isopropyl alcohol is a flammable liquid, just like gasoline or oil. 

Washing machines go into a spin cycle with a hot running motor. If you add isopropyl alcohol to your laundry detergent, you may notice smoke or a fire in your laundry room.  

Also, isopropyl alcohol isn’t a great stain remover for all fabric types. While rubbing alcohol can effectively remove some tough stains, like ink, it can damage some fabrics.

Isopropyl alcohol can damage delicate or synthetic materials like rayon, wool, and silk.   

Some stained fabrics, though, work well with isopropyl alcohol. For example, if you have a grease stain on your carpet, rubbing alcohol on the area can help lift the stain from the carpet fibers.  

However, if you use it on silk fabrics, you may not wear that item again because the alcohol will damage it.  

You should dilute isopropyl alcohol when you use it, as it is a highly concentrated chemical. However, most rubbing alcohol you purchase at the store is already diluted. Therefore, if you cut it too much, it may not effectively kill germs.

Essentially, I would advise you to avoid rubbing alcohol as a cure-all for your laundry. It is not an all-inclusive stain remover and should not be used as such.  

I wrote a guide on how to remove the smell from your shoes using alcohol that may interest you.

Can I Put Rubbing Alcohol in the Washing Machine?

You should not put rubbing alcohol in your washing machine. You really shouldn’t wash anything with a flammable stain in your washer, and you definitely shouldn’t put flammable stains in your dryer — that’s the real danger.

So, anything with grease, oil, paint thinner, or alcohol stain needs to be treated separately. If you add these items to the dryer, the high heat in the machine could create combustion or even an explosion.

Experimenting with these chemicals is not recommended. It’s just dangerous. So, if the product isn’t designed to be put in the washing machine or dryer, then don’t do it.    

A Better Alternative

Removing laundry stains can be a frustrating process, but don’t let your frustrations lead you to do something you’ll regret later – like adding rubbing alcohol to your laundry detergent!

Like I said earlier, adding isopropyl alcohol to your laundry detergent is not a cure-all for your stains and should not be treated as such. So, what should you do instead?

Well, to start, there are tons of laundry products on the market that are geared toward safely treating and lifting tough stains – use them instead!

When you have a tough stain that’s also potentially flammable, thick grease, oil, or paint thinner, you can use great products that were designed and intended to remove them safely.

I like to use it on stubborn stains, Spray n’ Wash (amazon paid link). It’s a fantastic pre-treat stain remover that you can mix with any type of laundry detergent. Plus, it’s safe for colored clothes.

If you opt for Spray n’ Wash, you’ll want to spray the solvent-based stain remover directly onto your clothing piece where the stain is.  

I like to let the solution sit for a minimum of ten minutes. You can then hand wash the item with hot water and liquid detergent. Make sure to use hot water to help lift the stain. I recommend hand-washing delicate items with tough stains (especially since delicates should not be put in the washing machine, anyway).  

However, if you are trying to remove a tough stain from more resilient fabric, like jeans or polyester fabrics, smell it and make sure that you can’t smell the stain odor once the solution has soaked. Then, once the scent from the grease or paint thinner, or whatever, has subsided, you should be good to toss it in the washer like usual.  

I like to hang dry items that I had to remove tough stains, especially if the stain was from a flammable liquid like oil or paint thinner. Still, if you could pre-treat the item and mostly remove the stain, and it’s not a delicate piece, you should be okay to dry it in the dryer. 

I also wrote an article about mixing bleach and detergent that may interest you.


Rubbing alcohol is a somewhat volatile chemical. While it is effective at several cleaning projects, you need to be careful what you mix it with and use it on.  

Also, remember that rubbing alcohol is flammable. 

This means that the product’s application and storage should follow all safety precautions listed on the product.  

Do not use rubbing alcohol in your laundry detergent or laundry cycle. It can damage your clothes, potentially cause a fire, or have other harmful effects.  

Instead, you should use products intended for use in laundry and your washing machine.

Next, you can have a look aI have also written a complete guide on everything you can mix with laundry detergent that may interest you to read next.

kat depalma

Thursday 14th of July 2022

I use 70 percent isopropyl alcohol on my laundry all the time! Works great. You say there is a fire potential in the spin cycle, but by the time it gets to spin all the alcohol is long ago washed away. It evaporates fast too you know. Actually, mostly I soak colored items that need sanitizing in alcohol, put the items outside to dry and when the alcohol is fully dissipated toss in the wash pre-sanitized, voila! What else could you use on colors that would kill 99% of virus and bacteria and is an EPA registered disinfectant that wouldn't bleach out the color? Nothing really. Vinegar, oxygen bleach, borax, etc. are NOT epa registered and do NOT kill very many pathogens.


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