Alcohol Wipes: When to use them

In every good first aid kits, there are a number of products that can help you clean up so your cut or wound doesn’t get infected. There’s saline solution, wound wipes and even antiseptic powders. One that can be a source of confusion is alcohol wipes. Of course we might be used to using them to clean our hands ever since Covid, but why are they in a first aid kit. Let’s learn in this post..

a box of alcohol wipes

What are alcohol wipes used for in first aid?

They are used to clean areas outside the wound to reduce the chance of infection. Alcohol wipes sting when used on the actual cut or wound. So never use them on the actual cut, but on surrounding areas.

So if you’ve cut or grazed yourself you will need to use a saline solution or wound wipe on the actual cut or graze and then use the alcohol wipes on the rest of the limb/area.

You might wonder, why bother? Does that make them pointless. Absolutely not.

When should you use alcohol wipes?

Let me give you a few examples of when they might be used:

a mechanic uses alcohol wipes to wipe off grease marks around a wound

Mechanics: While working on a car engine, a mechanic’s tool slips of and they seriously graze their knuckles on a rough surface. They would use saline or wound wipes to clean the wound itself. but surrounding the wound could be plenty of grease and grime which could make it’s way to the wound and cause infection. Using alcohol wipes to clean the grease and oil from the skin surrounding the abrasion would prevent contamination and reduces the risk of infection.

Gym-Goer: After an intense workout session, a gym-goer notices they’ve cut themself in a machine mishhap. While they wouldn’t use it on the cut, they can use alcohol wipes to clean the sweat and grime which would help remove any bacteria that may have accumulated during the workout.

Cleaners: While cleaning a restroom, a janitor accidentally cuts their arm on a sharp edge. Before applying a bandage, they use alcohol wipes to disinfect the area around the cut. Because they may have been in a high-infection area like a public restroom they make sure to use alcohol wipes to clean up the rest of the limb.

FAQ: Looking for the quick answers. here they are

Is there a difference between antiseptic and alcohol wipes?

Yes. As mentioned before use antiseptics on the actual wound but alcohol wipes on surrounding areas.

Should you use alcohol wipes on open wounds?

No, not only does it sting but it can damage the exposed tissue.

Are they the same as sanitizing wipes?

No. They are designed for different purposes. Sanitizing wipes are often more skin friendly and are more usable for day to day use, whereas alcohol wipes are used for specific first aid purposes to kill bacteria.

Do alcohol wipes help with infection?

Yes. By cleaning surrounding areas they reduce the spread of bacteria to the wound site.

Get First Aid Ready

We hope we’ve helped you learn how to use alcohol wipes and we’d love to help you get first aid ready. Stock up on antiseptic products today and learn more about first aid with our free first aid guide.

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