How to Clean With Acetone or Isopropyl Alcohol

Written by chyrene pendleton
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How to Clean With Acetone or Isopropyl Alcohol
Spot clean your telescope mirror with acetone. (telescope image by Warren Millar from

If you use paints or wear nail polish, you may be familiar with the chemical acetone, a substance used mainly as a solvent, dissolving other substances. Some nail polish removers contain acetone, for instance. Isopropyl alcohol, commonly known as rubbing alcohol, represents another solvent for items such as gums, antifreeze and lacquer. Use these solvents when you need to clean specific items effectively, but use caution as both solvents are toxic. Purchase isopropyl alcohol in most drugstores, grocery and dollar stores. Buy 100 per cent acetone in some beauty retail stores, some drugstores, hardware stores and online.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • 100 per cent acetone
  • Cotton balls
  • Paper towels
  • Facial tissue
  • Lens tissue (optional)
  • Isopropyl alcohol
  • Water
  • Spray bottle
  • Soft, lint-free cloth
  • Soap
  • Warm water
  • Disposable protective gloves

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  1. 1

    Clean surfaces and skin of spilt glue such as cyanoacylate, commonly known as super glue, by using drops of 100 per cent acetone and cotton balls. If you do not have pure acetone, use cotton with nail polish remover containing acetone.

  2. 2

    Clean your printed circuit board (PCB) after scouring it clean of oxidation. Wipe your PCB clean using a sheet of paper towel and acetone. The acetone helps the toner stick to the PCB. After applying the toner and using acid to remove copper from the PCB parts which lack toner, rinse the PCB with cold water and clean your PCB with acetone applied to a paper towel.

  3. 3

    Spot clean your telescope mirror by double folding a piece of facial or lens tissue for strength, and then dampening the tissue with acetone. Breathe on the mirror and wipe with the damp tissue to remove any residue. Remove streaks by dampening another folded tissue with acetone and lightly wiping the mirror again. Continue wiping with freshly dampened tissues until you no longer see any streaks. Breathe on the mirror once more, which will reveal any remaining streaks or a clean telescope mirror.

  1. 1

    Unplug power to your computer or TV, then wipe your LCD computer or TV screen with a solution of 1/2 water and 1/2 isopropyl alcohol in a spray bottle, after spraying it on a soft, lint-free cloth. Stroke across your screen in one direction with the moistened cloth, starting at the top and working down. Do not spray the solution directly on the screen to avoid drips of the water and alcohol entering other parts of your equipment. Allow the screen to dry fully before reconnecting power.

  2. 2

    Mix 1/2 isopropyl alcohol with 1/2 water in a spray bottle and spray this solution onto a clean, lint-free cloth to clean off the film on your bathroom mirror. Use this rubbing alcohol and water solution also to clean the inside of your car windshield and prevent your windshield from becoming foggy.

  3. 3

    Pour rubbing alcohol on your exposed skin immediately after it becomes exposed to urushiol, a chemical in poison ivy or poison oak. Urushiol causes itching, blisters and a rash when it contacts your skin and stays on your clothing for years if you do not wash your clothes properly. Wash your exposed skin in water right after applying the alcohol and wash your clothing separately in hot water. Take a shower with soap and warm water as soon as possible. Wear disposable protective gloves and use rubbing alcohol and water to wipe your shoes.

Tips and warnings

  • Keep acetone away from sources of heat--acetone is flammable. Acetone also can cause irritation of the eyes, nose and throat. Use acetone in a well-ventilated room to prevent dizziness and respiratory problems. (See Resources 1)
  • Use isopropyl alcohol away from sparks, flames or heat. This rubbing alcohol can cause a severe fire. A fire containing isopropyl alcohol can release toxic gases like carbon monoxide. (See Resources 2 Recognition)

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