Chemical disinfectants to slow the spread of Covid-19

Mar 19, 2020

The Covid-19 outbreak has not escaped your notice. Among the hygiene guidelines to prevent the spread of the virus, often cleaning your hands with soap and water or the use of a hand sanitizer was the most recommended advice.

But how do you apply these basic hygiene recommendations if you do not have soap or hand sanitizer at disposal? That is where chemical solutions comes in.

Alcohol, an underrated chemical disinfectant

Alcohol is a water-soluble organic compound. In general usage, alcohol refers almost always to ethanol (ethyl alcohol). When composed of a high concentration of ethanol and isopropanol (isopropyl alcohol), alcohol has a potent antimicrobial action.

At concentrations of 60%–80%, ethanol is a strong virucidal agent against all of the lipophilic viruses (such as herpes, vaccinia, and influenza virus) and many hydrophilic viruses (such as adenovirus, enterovirus, rhinovirus, and rotaviruses). Isopropanol is active against the lipid viruses. Absolute ethanol concentrations work as a dehydrating agent, therefore it is less bactericidal than mixtures of alcohol and water. Indeed, proteins are denatured more quickly in the presence of water.

As a result, when diluted to 60%–80% in water (volume/volume), the chemical composition of alcohol makes it a high-level disinfectant.