Alcohols  -

There are a number of different types of alcohol, but the ones generally used as antiseptics are ethanol also known as ethyl alcohol and isopropyl alcohol (IPA), or Rubbing Alcohol. Both chemicals are effective against a wide range of bacteria, some viruses, protozoa, and fungi, and have relatively low toxicity to humans. They are most commonly used as skin antiseptics, often in the form of wipes or gels, and for disinfecting surfaces, but they are not generally used for sterilizing instruments.

Isopropyl alcohol is capable of killing most bacteria within 5 minutes of exposure but is ineffective against bacterial spores however, it is known to inhibit sporulation and spore germination.  


Mode of Action – Their main effect on microorganisms seems to be to coagulate essential proteins (denaturation) , rendering them ineffective, and causing cell death or inhibiting reproduction. They may also have a dehydrating effect and may interfere with the functioning of cell membranes. In the absence of water, proteins are not readily denatured by alcohol and therefore a 70% solution of isopropyl alcohol is a much more effective sanitizer than the pure (99%) product.

Disadvantages – The disadvantages towards the use of isopropyl alcohol is that it is flammable, have a tendency to corrode and damage tools and dull the edges of sharp instruments.

Isopropyl alcohol is an irritant of the eyes, skin, and respiratory tract. When absorbed or inhaled, isopropyl alcohol functions as a central nervous system inebriant – as well as a headache and nausea-inducing depressant.

Alcohols cannot be diluted as quats or iodophors can and therefore is relatively expensive to use.

Cost -1 gallon 70% IPA - around  $15.00 - $20.00


Last Edited By: Matt Morris and David Newman Oct 24 15 2:04 PM. Edited 1 time.