Can Alcohol Really Keep Shot Glasses Clean?

Reusing shot glasses with high-proof alcohol as a bacteria killer and hygiene practice. Consider the residue buildup.

Can Alcohol Really Keep Shot Glasses Clean?
Photo by JOHN TOWNER / Unsplash

If alcohol effectively kills bacteria, could someone reuse a shot glass without cleaning it and have no ill effects?

It sounds plausible, but there's more to it than meets the eye.

Alcohol as a Bacteria Killer

Alcohol, especially higher proof variants, is indeed a potent bacteria killer.

When the alcohol comes into contact with the shot glass, the majority of bacteria on the surface are effectively eliminated.

This may lead one to believe that reusing the glass without cleaning could be safe.

Hidden Dangers

However, the cleanliness of the shot glass is not the only concern.

The dampness in the glass can attract dust and other particles from the surrounding air, leading to a potential buildup of foreign matter over time.

Moreover, any residual alcohol left in the glass after consumption can evaporate, leaving behind solid residues that can accumulate and become unclean over time.

While it may not pose an immediate health risk, the shot glass can become unsightly and unhygienic due to these factors.

Repeated Use and Hygiene

Reusing a shot glass without cleaning could pose hygiene issues beyond bacterial concerns.

While the alcohol may mitigate immediate bacterial threats, it does not provide a substitute for regular cleaning to remove other contaminants that can accumulate over time.


While the idea of reusing a shot glass without cleaning it may seem viable at first glance due to alcohol's bacteria-killing properties, it's important to consider the overall hygiene and cleanliness of the glass.

Factors like dust accumulation, residual alcohol solidifying, and other contaminants can make the practice unhygienic over time.

Therefore, maintaining the cleanliness and hygiene of shot glasses through regular washing remains essential despite alcohol's bacteria-killing abilities.