Disinfecting is the process of eradicating inanimate objects from environmental surfaces. It can be done through physical or chemical agents.

It is crucial in protecting people from viruses and to follow good hygiene. The World Health Organization also stated that it is essential to disinfect the surfaces with the use of alcohol to avoid the spread of COVID-19. It is vital to disinfect your home regularly to help prevent diseases. The top areas and hotspots in your home that you come into contact with daily should be regularly disinfected, such as light switches, doorknobs, phones and remote controls. Quite a lot of infectious diseases can be prevented by the use of disinfectant products and by regularly applying it as a routine.

Different solutions, alcohol types and concentrations are beneficial in disinfecting and cleaning when applied correctly. However, dangerous consequences can occur if they’re misused.

When disinfecting comes to mind, which should you use – Ethanol or Isopropyl Alcohol?

The two alcohols are quite similar when it comes to their disinfecting properties and are mostly used for industrial and household uses. However, they have a minor difference when it is rubbed on the skin.

Ethanol which is also known as ethyl alcohol is present in alcoholic beverages. Isopropyl alcohol is known as isopropanol or rubbing alcohol. They both play an essential role in killing bacteria and are at a concentration of 70% water.

Ethanol works by dissolving lipids
Ethanol or Isopropyl Alcohol?
Ethanol works by dissolving lipids and denaturing proteins. Although ethanol is diluted at 70% solution it is significantly effective in killing bacteria, microbes and other microorganisms on the surfaces of food manufacturing equipment and counters. It is also present in hand wipes and soaps and quickly dries, which is why it doesn’t leave a residual solvent. It is the safest form of sanitizing for pharma or food settings. Ethanol products work best as disinfectants if they have 20% water content.
It is a highly volatile substance which is why it is mostly sold for cleaning electronics and is not used as hand sanitizer as it can injure the skin. Moreover, as it dries the skin quickly, it shouldn’t be used directly without additional agents. It is also useful for killing viruses against infections such as flu and herpes.
Isopropyl, on the other hand, destroys vital and bacterial cells by the same mechanism and also evaporates at a similar rate. However, it is better in disinfecting skin than ethanol as it is not that effective in dehydrating living tissues. It is very effective against bacteria and is most popularly used in pharmaceutical industries for electronics, medical devices and also helps to kill all surface microorganisms.
destroys vital and bacterial cells
Less concentrated isopropanol is used to eliminate bacteria. It is because due to higher concentrations, an external injury is caused which forms a protective shield against these organisms. Water is crucial for killing the growth of pathogenic microorganisms. It plays an essential role in denaturing the proteins of the cell membranes. If extra water is added, evaporation is slowed down, which increases the surface contact time, thus enhancing effectiveness.

For disinfecting purposes, isopropyl and ethanol are equally effective. A survey showed that cleaning a stethoscope diaphragm by the use of isopropyl and EBV reduced the bacteria growth. Ethanol is commonly used in surface cleaning areas whereas isopropyl alcohol can be used as an antiseptic which is used in most hospitals. They are effective at 70% concentration and are used to clean tools after they are immersed for 10 minutes. Moreover, they evaporate quickly and don’t leave a residue behind. It also cleans computer components.

Although isopropyl alcohol is more effective in disinfecting as ethanol takes specific procedures to act and more time, isopropyl is simple and works faster. However, both alcohols dissolve their lipids which help fight against viruses such as Hepatitis A and HIV. Both are easy to use and are inexpensive. If you want to increase its effectiveness, the alcohol should be rubbed. Lastly, the most crucial part is that no matter which alcohol you’re using, make sure to follow the necessary safety procedures to prevent any danger.