alcohols (ethanol and isopropanol)
easy to obtain and inexpensive. Rapid evaporation limits their contact time.
- -antiseptic to degerm skin in prep procedures
- -treat instruments
Aldehydes (glutaraldehyde, orthophthalaldehyde, and formaldehyde)
capable of destroying all forms of microbial life. Irritating to the resp. tract, skin and eyes.
- -sterilize medical equipment
- -Formalin used in vaccine production and preserve biological specimen.
relatively low toxicity, destroys a wide range of microbes, adheres to and persists on skin and mucous membranes
-used as an antiseptic in soaps and lotions and impregnated into catheters and surgical mesh
Ethylene oxide gas
easily penetrates hard-to-reach places and fabrics and does not damage moisture-sensitive material. It is toxic, explosive, and potentially carcinogenic.
-sterilize medical devices
Halogens (chlorine and iodine)
Chlorine solutions are inexpensive and readily available; however, organic compounds and other impurities neutralize the activity. Some forms of chlorine may react with organic compounds to form toxic chlorinated products. Iodine is more expensive than chlorine and does not reliably kill endospores.
-disinfect objects, surfaces, drinking water an wastewater
Most metal compounds are too toxic to be used medically
- -topical drssings
- -silver nitrate drops can be used to prevent eye infections
unstable form of molecular oxygen readily breaks down
-disinfect water and wastewater
Peroxygens (H2O2 and peracetic acid)
biodegradeable and less toxic than traditional alternatives. Effectiveness of H2O2 as an antiseptic is limited because the enzyme catalase breaks it down. Peracetic acid more potent
Phenolic Compounds (triclosan and hexachlorophene)
wide range of activity, reasonable cost, remains effective in the resence of detergents and organic contaminants, leaves and active antimicrobial residue
-personal care products
Quaternary Ammonium Compounds (benzalkonium chloride and cetylpyridinium chloride)
Non-toxic enough to be used on food preparation surfaces. Inactivated by anionic soaps and detergent
-used to disinfecct inanimate objects and to preserve non-food substances
121 degrees celsius, 15 psi, 15 minutes