First things first: I am not a medical specialist. Friends and family are working as caretakers. Disinfectant handcleansing are sold-out/unavailable. That is why I decided to ask my question on this platform.

In my country a product called “cleaning spiritus” is sold for cleaning the house. I guess “methylated alcohol” or “methylated spirits” is a proper English translation.

This fluid is a mix of water, 85% ethanol and methanol, and some unpleasant aroma. The methanol and aromas are added to prevent people to drink it, therefor the taxes are way lower for “spiritus” as for “spirits”.

Because all products for cleaning hands and surfaces based on pure ethanol are sold out, I was wondering if we could use “spiritus” as disinfectant.

1 Answer 1


Since methanol had been added the resulting solution is toxic. Furthermore methanol can be absorbed through the skin making it dangerous to use methylated spirits.


Note that in NZ and Australia methylated spirits no longer contains methanol that has been deliberately added and uses other additives to denature it.

  • Apart from being toxic, is it disinfectant? For example to disinfect surfaces and tools?
    – iep
    Commented Mar 17, 2020 at 11:12
  • 1
    I would think so. Just surfaces and not skin. Commented Mar 17, 2020 at 14:34
  • 1
    @GrahamChiu, methanol isn't absorbed quickly through the skin. You wouldn't want to use a methanol-based cleaner on a regular basis, but for a one-off washing when you don't have anything else available, it should be safe.
    – Mark
    Commented Mar 18, 2020 at 20:17
  • 1
    @mark people need to clean very frequently Commented Mar 18, 2020 at 20:43

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