The Environmental Protection Agency
) defines disinfectants as
the class of agents intended to destroy
on inanimate object
s, but not necessarily their
s. A "hospital disinfectant" is such an agent shown to be effective
against Staphylococcus aureus, Salmonella choleraesuis
, and may kill other pathogen
s as well.
Some substances with disinfectant properties include:
- Household bleach, aka sodium hypochlorite solution,
diluted 1:10, is an effective broad-spectrum disinfectant that will
kill a wide variety of bacteria and viruses including HIV.
- Hydrogen peroxide is also a broad-spectrum disinfectant, and
its corrosive properties are much less than that of bleach.
- Formaldehyde will disinfect and even kill bacterial spores,
but it's a known carcinogen and also quite toxic so
is not used much.
- Alcohols, such as ethanol and isopropyl alcohol will kill
many bacteria and fungi, but since they evaporate so quickly, it can be difficult
to ensure a sufficient contact time to achieve disinfection. Their optimal
concentration for disinfectant activity is about 70%.
- Phenolic compounds (which is what some versions of Lysol contain)
are effective against bacteria and fungi, but only
- Nolvasan (chlorhexidine diacetate) works well to kill bacteria and viruses,
and is recommended as an avicultural disinfectant.
- Iodine compounds, found in such products as Betadine.
"Natural" products such as vinegar and baking soda don't work very well at
killing microbes, studies show.