Types of Disinfectants

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Bacteria, mold, mildew, and viruses are responsible for illnesses, bad odors, and ruined property. Disinfectants and sanitizers exist to help us mitigate these destructive actors. DeVere offers a wide range of disinfectants and sanitizers so that we have a solution to every cleaning problem. This informative post will outline how different types of disinfectants work and what their advantages and disadvantages are. All types of disinfectants have the same goal but have different ways of achieving it.


Alcohols are broad-spectrum antimicrobial agents that damage microorganisms by denaturing proteins, causing membrane damage and cell lysis.

Advantages: 70% ethyl alcohol with a 20-minute contact time proves to be a powerful germicide effective against many pathogens.
Alcohol is inactivated by organic matter. It evaporates quickly, making many people prefer not to use it because it may require multiple applications. May cause damage to plastics.

Our Product: Bac-San
Note that Bac-San is an FDA-regulated hand sanitizer meant to sanitize hands not surfaces.

Sodium Hypochlorite (Chlorine Bleach), Sodium Dichloroisocyanurate (Organic Chlorine), and other Chlorine-donors

Chlorine compounds function through their electronegative nature to denature proteins and are considered broad-spectrum, being effective against bacteria, enveloped and non-enveloped viruses, mycobacteria, and fungi.

Advantages: Readily available and cost-effective. Effective and kills many microorganisms. A potent deodorizer.
Irritates skin and eyes. Can discolor and damage metal surfaces. Inactivated by organic debris. Less effective in hard water. Has a limited shelf life of about 6 months under normal conditions. Will deteriorate with time and exposure to light. It does not work well on spore forms of bacteria or mycobacterium.

Our Product: Sanitizer Concentrate
Note that Chlor Foam, Chlor CIP, Lightning, and several other products contain chlorine bleach due to its cleaning ability.
Chlor Foam Powder and Chlor CIP Powder contain sodium dichloroisocyanurate and are not EPA registered.

Peroxygen Compounds (Peroxides)

Hydrogen peroxide, the superoxide ion radical, and the hydroxyl radical are intermediate products in the reduction of oxygen to water. The hydroxyl radical is said to be the strongest oxidant known, and it is by this mechanism that hydrogen peroxide is believed to do the actual killing of bacteria.

Advantages: Effective against a wide variety of organisms: bacteria, yeast, fungi, viruses, and spores. Anaerobes are even more sensitive because they do not produce catalase to break down the peroxide. In general, peroxides have greater activity against gram-negative than gram-positive bacteria. Unlike many disinfectants, peroxygen compounds are not affected by the addition of organic matter and salts.
Disadvantages: In liquid solutions, peroxygen compounds are constantly creating oxygen and typically have relatively shelf-lives while in solution. They also have no residual efficacy after being left in a solution on a surface.

Our Products: Security Floor® Sanitizer and Security Cleaner and Disinfectant
Note that Security Floor® Sanitizer theoretically lasts forever when it is used dry. We have stability studies for 10-years on this product with no loss in efficacy.


Chlorhexidine is detrimental to microorganisms by reacting with the negatively charged groups on cell membranes which alters permeability.

Advantages: Effective against many fungi, yeast, bacteria, and some viruses. Very low toxicity to birds and humans.
Makes a poor cleaner and has decreased effectiveness in the presence of organic matter and hard water. It is not effective against several types of bacteria. Not effective against bacterial spores or mycobacterium. Will not kill hydrophilic viruses.

Tamed Iodine (Iodophors)

Iodophors are iodine complexes that have increased solubility and sustained release of iodine.  One of the more commonly used iodophors if povidone-iodine. They are good for general use and are less readily inactivated by organic matter than elemental iodine compounds. The dilution of iodophors actually increases the free iodine concentration and antimicrobial activity.

Advantages: Iodophores kill a wide range of disease-causing organisms including bacteria, fungi, many viruses, and most micro-organisms. Works well in cold, hot, and hard water. Readily available.
Disadvantages: Moderately expensive. Can stain tissues and some materials. Can cause drying and cracking of skin after prolonged use. May corrode metals with prolonged exposure. Inactivated by prolonged contact with organic matter. Does not affect hydrophilic viruses.

Our Product: Golden Sanitizer


Phenols are broad-spectrum disinfectants that function by denaturing proteins and inactivating membrane-bound enzymes to alter the cell wall permeability of microorganisms.

Advantages: Many products are readily available. Kills fungi, Tuberculosis, certain viruses, Staphylococcus, and Pseudomonas bacteria. Retains effectiveness in hard water. Does not stain surfaces or leave a residual odor. Cost-effective. 
High concentrations will burn skin, eyes, and lungs. Does not kill nonenveloped viruses, such as parvovirus, polyomavirus, papillomavirus, adenovirus, and reovirus, nor will they kill all bacteria types. Toxic to cats and possibly reptiles.

Pine Cleaner contains the phenolic pine oil and is not EPA-registered


Aldehydes are highly effective, broad-spectrum disinfectants, which typically achieve sterilization by denaturing proteins and disrupting nucleic acids.

Advantages: Effective against all pathogens. Equally effective in cold, hot, and hard water. Effective in the presence of organic debris. Skin irritation is minimal even at 2%. Rated by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as the lowest tissue irritation level possible, non-toxic, and non-teratogenic. 
May require a medical license for purchase. EPA testing limited on animal and bird pathogens. Inadequate ventilation may result in eye and respiratory irritation in humans and birds. Prolonged contact with concentrated form may cause skin peeling and discoloration.

Quaternary Ammonium Compounds (QACs or Quats)

These compounds are cationic detergents that are attracted to the negatively charged surfaces of microorganisms, where they irreversibly bind phospholipids in the cell membrane and denature proteins impairing permeability. DeVere manufactures a variety of QACs. Our team can answer detailed questions about use rates, activity, and QAC generations.

Advantages: An excellent general disinfectant. Kills both Gram-negative and positive bacteria, many viruses, and chlamydia. Cost-effective. No odor or color in pure form.
Disadvantages: Not effective against bacterial spores, fungus, non-enveloped viruses, or mycobacterium with poor Pseudomonas activity. Decreased effectiveness in the presence of organic debris and in hard water. Not easily rinsed off surfaces, often leaving a soapy residue. It causes respiratory paralysis if ingested.

Our Products: QDII Sanitizer (Ready-to-Use and Wipes), One Step, and Heads Up 10
Bac-Off contains this ingredient and is a hand sanitizer.

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About the Author : rstevenson2

  1. Dustin Henthorn April 28, 2020 at 11:30 pm - Reply

    Hi there. I’m sure you guys are busy. I’m looking for a product for the golf course I work at near Janesville Wi. We want to be able to sanatize the mower steering wheels and controls and also things like flag sticks and other human touch hot spots. Mainly outside. Hard surfaces. Not sure if a foot product might apply. Or on equipment. Plase let me know some options. Thank you.

    • DeVere Chemical June 18, 2020 at 8:17 am - Reply

      Hi Dustin, You would use QDII Sanitizer (concentrate or ready-to-use) to sanitize lawnmower touchpoints. That product is approved to kill the virus that causes COVID-19 as well as many other viruses, bacteria, and molds. QDII will not harm rubber, metal, or painted surfaces and is safe on skin.

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