The unsung hero of disinfection: Alcohol

Ethanol molecule

A reliable, safe disinfectant and sanitizer

The CDC’s COVID-19 recommendations for Cleaning and Disinfecting in communities, schools, and workplaces lists, “Alcohol solutions with at least 70% alcohol” as a disinfectant option in addition to diluted bleach or EPA-registered disinfectants. So why do we hear so little about alcohol as a disinfectant in healthcare settings?

Alcohol in healthcare settings

CDC Statement on Disinfectant Properties of AlcoholIn fact, alcohol is the workhorse of disinfection within healthcare; it just doesn’t get the same press as some of the more toxic or aggressive chemicals. Check the label on any disinfectant product inside a healthcare facility and it’s likely that alcohol is the first active ingredient. The CDC Guidelines for Disinfection and Sterilization in Healthcare Facilities calls out the bactericidal, tuberculocidal, fungicidal, and virucidal activity of ethyl alcohol and isopropyl alcohol.

In the CDC Guidelines for Environmental Infection Control in Health-Care Facilities, alcohols are listed as an intermediate level disinfectant (see Table 22).

CDC Environmental Guidelines

Denatured ethanol (also called ethyl alcohol) is non-toxic, harmless on skin, and effective against many microorganisms with a contact time 30-60 seconds. Case Solutions Alcohol Spray with 70% denatured ethanol and high-purity water and Case Solutions Alcohol Wipes with a 70% blend of ethanol and isopropyl alcohol and high purity water to optimize alcohol’s natural antimicrobial activity. Case Solutions Hand Sanitizer with Aloe and Vitamin E is an ideal hand sanitizer with 70% alcohol and emollients to support skin health.

Health, safety, and efficacy

Health and safety of employees and visitors is imperative for all healthcare facilities. However, if you’re not careful you may be missing critical information. Hand sanitizers from reliable sources, like Case Medical’s products, have high-purity ingredients and are FDA reviewed. Others may not be. Reviewing the SDS for cleaners and disinfectants can reveal risks of irritation to the skin, eyes, and respiratory system. Some common disinfectants are listed on the California Proposition 65 list as chemicals known to cause cancer or birth defects or other reproductive harm.

HazardCertain disinfectants can present a grave risk when mixed with other cleaning chemicals, creating toxic fumes. Others contribute to antibacterial resistance. Concentrations and additives can vary from product to product and may contribute to health and safety concerns. Finally, contact time, or dwell time, can affect the time it takes to complete the cleaning and disinfecting process.

Keep it simple

Take some time to think about the products you want in your work environment. You can learn more about our simple and effective 70% alcohol products at these links.

Case Solutions® Alcohol Spray

Case Solutions® Alcohol Wipes

Case Solutions® Hand Sanitizer with Aloe and Vitamin E