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Properties of disinfectants

Active Agent

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Accelerated hydrogen peroxide (oxidizing agent)

Product Examples

Rescue, Prevail

Contact Time, min

1-10

Advantages

  • Broad spectrum, with activity against nonenveloped viruses, bacterial spores, and dermatophytes.
  • Good activity in moderate organic debris.
  • Low toxicity.
  • Biodegradable.
  • Does not appear to be corrosive, unlike other oxidizing agents.

Disadvantages

  • More expensive than other options.

Comments

  • Excellent choice for environmental disinfection.

Hypochlorite

Product Examples

Bleach; 1:10–1:50 dilution of household bleach

Contact Time, min

1–5

Advantages

  • Broad spectrum effective against most resistant organisms (nonenveloped viruses, bacterial spores, dermatophytes).
  • Readily available.
  • Cost-effective.

Disadvantages

  • Corrosive for some surfaces.
  • Poor stability when exposed to light.
  • Poorly active in the presence of organic debris (e.g., dirt, feces).
  • Can discolor fabrics.

Comments

  • Good for various environmental surfaces.
  • Efficacy decreases with increasing pH, decreasing temperature, presence of ammonia and nitrogen.
  • Reserve high concentration (1:10) for specific circumstances with resistant microorganisms. 1:32–1:50 more commonly used.
  • Never mix with other chemicals.
  • Change diluted solutions daily.
  • Do not store in clear containers.

Potassium peroxymonosulfate (oxidizing agent)

Product Examples

Virkon, Trifectant

Contact Time, min

10

Advantages

  • Broad spectrum, with activity against nonenveloped viruses and bacterial spores.
  • Active in the presence of moderate organic debris.

Disadvantages

  • Corrosive, especially with metal surfaces. Masks should be worn when mixing powdered solutions

Comments

  • Commonly used routine disinfectant.
  • Care must be taken when handling concentrated product.
  • Consider rinsing metal and concrete surfaces after required contact time.

Quaternary ammonium compounds

Product Examples

Various

Contact Time, min

10–30

Advantages

  • Low cost.
  • Low toxicity.
  • Stable under storage.
  • Good against Gram-negative, many Gram-positive bacteria, and enveloped viruses.

Disadvantages

  • Limited impact on nonenveloped viruses, bacterial spores, dermatophytes.
  • Inhibited by organic debris.

Comments

  • Common environmental disinfectant, but spectrum may be inadequate for some situations.