Is it safe to spray alcohol inside your car? A doctor weighs in

There are actually potential dangers to it
by Leandre Grecia | May 26, 2021
PHOTO: Shutterstock

It’s probably safe to say that before the pandemic, most of us have never used alcohol—the disinfecting kind—more than we have in the past year or so alone. It’s one of the easiest, most common ways to keep our hands clean, after all.

Naturally, readers have constantly been sending us questions like, “Is alcohol safe for my car’s interior?” We’ve already covered how to safely decontaminate our cars, so we’d like to talk about something else: the potential danger of using alcohol—specifically, spraying it—inside our cars.

Spraying alcohol is the more economical and convenient way of using it to disinfect our hands, especially for drivers who handle cash at toll booths or a restaurant drive-through. However, it could actually be hazardous when done inside our vehicles.

According to Top Gear Philippines contributor and anesthesiologist Raymond Figuerres, spraying alcohol aerosolizes it, and when the volume of aerosolized alcohol in an enclosed space gets too high, it can actually reach combustible levels. That means in worst-case scenarios, it could result in flash fires.

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Figuerres also shared that using an air-quality monitor, he was able to detect a spike in the total volatile organic compounds in a certain area whenever somebody sprayed alcohol. It even reached levels that could potentially be harmful to a person’s lungs, so that’s another danger right there.

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What could be the workaround here, then? You can roll down the windows to regulate the airflow inside the cabin. But according to Figuerres, the better idea would be to pour the alcohol straight from the bottle and into your hands. Not only does this avoid the deterioration of air quality, it also ensures you’ve applied enough alcohol to thoroughly disinfect your hands.

There you have it. The next time we’re behind the wheel, let’s keep this in mind. Better safe than sorry, right?

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PHOTO: Shutterstock
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