Difference Between Hydrogen Peroxide and Rubbing Alcohol (With Table)

Hydrogen Peroxide (H2O2) is a strong oxidizing agent whereas Rubbing Alcohol (CH3CHOHCH3) is water-soluble, colourless and highly flammable. Unlike the former, the latter is a type of alcohol.

3 percent Hydrogen Peroxide diluted in water is what we use as a disinfectant. On the other hand, 60 to 80 percent isopropyl alcohol diluted in water constitutes rubbing alcohol.

Hydrogen Peroxide vs Rubbing Alcohol

The difference between Hydrogen Peroxide and Rubbing Alcohol lies in how and what they are used for. The former is a strong disinfectant and is used as a mild antiseptic, but not in sanitizers. The latter is also a good disinfectant. It can be used in sanitizers.


 

Comparison Table Between Hydrogen Peroxide and Rubbing Alcohol

Parameter of ComparisonHydrogen PeroxideRubbing Alcohol
Chemical NatureIts chemical formula being H2O2, hydrogen peroxide is not a type of alcohol. It has a strong oxidizing property.Chemically known as isopropanol or isopropyl alcohol (CH3CHOHCH3), it is clearly a type of alcohol.
ConcentrationPharmacies that supply hydrogen peroxide for disinfection purposes, give you a solution containing 3 percent hydrogen peroxide dissolved in water.Between 60 to 80 percent isopropanol dissolved in water constitutes rubbing alcohol.
UsesIt is a strong disinfectant and can potentially kill most viruses and bacteria.Owing to its strong germicidal properties, rubbing alcohol is used in sanitizers to disinfect hands and surfaces. It can be used for household cleaning too.
Method of usageWipe the surface to be disinfected with soap and water. Apply hydrogen peroxide to the surface. The solution must be allowed to sit for at least 10 minutes.Wipe the surface to be disinfected with soap and water. Apply rubbing alcohol to the surface. Let the solution sit for at least 30 seconds.

 

What is Hydrogen Peroxide?

The chemical formula of Hydrogen Peroxide (H2O2) is very similar to that of water (H2O). Its extra oxygen atom lends it its strong oxidizing property. It is a good antiseptic and a bleaching agent too. Chemically speaking, it is not a type of alcohol. Being made up of hydrogen and oxygen atoms, it is a less damaging alternative to chlorine-based bleaches.

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Pharmacies that supply hydrogen peroxide, for disinfection purposes, give you a solution containing 3 percent hydrogen peroxide dissolved in water. It is a strong disinfectant and can potentially kill most viruses and bacteria. It is also a mild antiseptic which means it can be used as protection from infections due to minor cuts, scrapes and burns.

When hydrogen peroxide comes in contact with your skin, it foams, indicating that it’s killing bacteria. As both good and bad bacteria are killed by this chemical, using hydrogen peroxide should not be used to treat deep cuts and bruises. It is not used in hand sanitizers as it could cause irritation, or, in severe cases, burning and bleaching of skin.

The surface to be disinfected must be cleaned with soap and water before applying hydrogen peroxide. Furthermore, it must be allowed to sit on a surface for at least 10 minutes before it begins working.

Deep wounds, animal bites, or serious burns must not be treated with hydrogen peroxide.

 

What is Rubbing Alcohol?

Chemically known as isopropanol or isopropyl alcohol (CH3CHOHCH3), it is clearly a type of alcohol. Apart from being a good disinfectant, it is water-soluble, colourless and highly flammable. It has a strong odor. It is made by dissolving 60 to 80 percent isopropanol in water. Rubbing alcohol is a constituent of most hand sanitizers.

Owing to its strong germicidal properties, rubbing alcohol is used in sanitizers to disinfect hands and surfaces. It can be used for household cleaning too. The surface to be disinfected must be cleaned with soap and water before applying rubbing alcohol. It must be allowed to sit on the surface for at least 30 seconds.


Main Differences Between Hydrogen Peroxide and Rubbing Alcohol

  • Its chemical formula being H2O2, hydrogen peroxide is not a type of alcohol. It has a strong oxidizing property. Chemically known as isopropanol or isopropyl alcohol (CH3CHOHCH3), it is clearly a type of alcohol. Rubbing alcohol is also a good disinfectant.
  • Hydrogen peroxide, for disinfection purposes, is supplied as a solution containing 3 percent hydrogen peroxide dissolved in water. Rubbing alcohol contains 60 to 80 percent isopropanol dissolved in water.
  • Being a mild antiseptic, hydrogen peroxide can be used as protection from infections due to minor cuts, scrapes and burns. It is not used in hand sanitizers.
  • It is a strong disinfectant and can potentially kill most viruses and bacteria. Rubbing alcohol is used in sanitizers to disinfect hands and surfaces. It can be used for household cleaning too.
  • Hydrogen Peroxide needs to be allowed to sit for at least 10 minutes on the surface before it starts working. However, rubbing alcohol may need to sit for only 30 seconds.

 

Conclusion

Hydrogen Peroxide can be used as a mild antiseptic to treat small cuts and bruises.  As it kills both good and bad bacteria, it is better to not use it for large open wounds or deep cuts. 3 percent hydrogen peroxide can be used as a household disinfectant.

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Rubbing alcohol of at least 50 percent concentration can be can be used to effectively kill bacteria. It is the main constituent used in sanitizers.