Rubbing Alcohol – Why It’s bad for Wooden Antique Furniture


Rubbing alcohol is an increasingly popular cleaning product. It can remove sticky, stubborn stains and it disinfects, and has far fewer ingredients than some less eco-friendly cleaning products out there.

Rubbing Alcohol

Rubbing alcohol is diluted before use and used in small quantities and may seem harmless. It has been used in the home for many years for anything from disinfecting bites and wounds to cleaning hard surfaces. While rubbing alcohol is a versatile product, it can be harmful when used on wood. Here we look at why rubbing alcohol on antique wooden furniture can do more harm than good.

Wooden Furniture

Wooden furniture, particularly antique wooden furniture, must be cared for correctly. Many antiques are wooden and may have been passed down through generations. While some wear, weakening and fading is inevitable, there are things you can do to ensure your antique wooden furniture is kept in the best condition possible. Speak with an antique specialist, such as Abbey Antiques, if you need help with antique care or restoration.


Alcohol interacts with wood surfaces, acting as a solvent when it touches wood. Solvents dissolve wood finishes, including staining and varnishes. It does so by stripping away the top layer of the furniture. This can significantly damage the integrity, aesthetics and value of the piece. This damage is immediate once the rubbing alcohol has made contact, and only an expert will be able to repair it.

What Can You Do If Rubbing Alcohol Has Damaged Your Antique Wooden Furniture?

If you have accidentally allowed rubbing alcohol to come into contact with your antique wooden furniture, there are some steps you should take.

  • Remove the rubbing alcohol from the area. If you are using a cloth or a bottle, ensure it is kept away from the wood to prevent further damage.
  • Use an absorbent towel or cloth to blot any excess solution on the furniture. Be sure not to wipe it as this causes it to spread and enhances the extent of the damage.
  • Call a professional antique furniture restorer for advice. Do not attempt quick DIY fixes, as this could cause more damage.

It is important to seek professional advice if you are unsure of the best way to care for antique pieces. Contact Abbey Antiques to find out about our specialist antique services on 01708 741135.