Summary of Disinfectants

Consult these charts for recommended disinfectants, their uses, and requirements.

Note: The chart below provides guidelines for surface decontamination only. For chemical disinfection of liquid biohazardous waste, the only university-wide approved disinfectant for UCSD is bleach (1 part bleach to 9 parts liquid waste, 30 min. contact time, followed by sewering). If your laboratory wishes to inquire on the use of alternative disinfectants to inactivate liquid biohazardous waste, please send an email with the following information:

  • Material to be disinfected
  • Chemical to be used
  • Concentration of chemical
  • Contact time
  • Disposal method (sewering, hazardous waste pickup)

  • You will receive a response within five (5) working days regarding approval.


    Important: These charts are intended for use by University of California, San Diego (UCSD) researchers only. Standards and requirements may differ at other institutions and businesses.


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    Practical requirements

    Disinfectants Practical RequirementsInactivates
    TypeCategoryUse Dilution Contact TimeTemp (C)Relative HumidityVegetative
    Bacteria
    LipovirusNonlipid VirusesBacterial Spores
    LipovirusBroad
    Spectrum
    LiquidQuaternary
    ammonium
    compounds
    0.1%–2.0%10Not
    effective
      ++  
    Phenolics1.0%–5.0%10Not
    effective
      ++Variable results dependent on virus 
    Chlorine
    compounds
    500 ppm1030  ++++
    Iodphor 25–1600 ppm (available halogen) 1030  ++++
    Alcohol,
    Ethyl
    70%–85%10Not
    effective
      ++Variable results dependent on virus 
    Alcohol,
    isopropyl
    70%–85%10Not
    effective
      ++Variable results dependent on virus 
    Formaldehyde0.2%–8.0%1030  ++++
    Glutaraldehyde2.0%1030  ++++
    GasEthylene oxide8–23 g/cubic foot60603730++++
    Paraformaldehyde0.3 g/cubic foot6060gt;23gt;60++++

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    Important characteristics

    DisinfectantsImportant characteristics
    TypeCategoryEffective Shelf Life
    >1 week protected from light and air
    CorrosiveFlammableExplosion PotentialResidueInactivated by Organic MatterCompatible for Optics*
    Read special considerations
    Compatible for Electronics Skin Irritant Eye Irritant Respiratory Irritant Toxic
    By skin or mouth, or both. Refer to manufacturer's literature and "The Merck Index."
    LiquidQuaternary
    ammonium
    compounds
    +    ++ ++ +
    Phenolic
    compounds
    ++  +   ++ +
    Chlorine +  ++  ++++
    Iodophor++  ++  ++ +
    Alcohol,
    ethyl
    + +      + +
    Alcohol,
    isoprophyl
    + +      + +
    Formaldehyde+   +   ++ +
    Glutaraldehyde+   + + ++ +
    GasEthylene
    Oxide
    N/A +
    Neither flammable nor explosive in 90% CO2, or fluorinated hydrocarbon, the usual form
    +
    Neither
    flammable nor explosive in 90% CO2, or fluorinated hydrocarbon, the usual form
      ++++++
    Parafor-
    maldehyde
    N/A +
    At concentrations of 7%-73% by volume in air, solid-exposure to open flame
    +
    At concentrations of 7%-73% by volume in air, solid-exposure to open flame
      ++++++
    * Special considerations (compatible for optics): Usually compatible, but consider interferences from residues and effects on associated materials such as mounting.  Return to Compatible with Optics

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    Potential applications

    DisinfectantsPotential applications
    TypeCategory Work Surfaces Dirty GlasswareLarge
    Area
    Decon
    Air handling systemsPortable Equipment Surface Portable Equipment Penetrating Decon Fixed Equipment Surface Fixed Equipment Penetrating Decon Optical InstrumentsElectronic InstrumentsLiquids for Discard Books, Papers
    LiquidQuaternary
    ammonium
    compounds
    ++  + +     
    Phenolic
    Compounds
    ++    +     
    Chlorine++  + +   + 
    Iodophor++  + +     
    Alcohol,
    ethyl
    ++  + +     
    Alcohol
    isoprophyl
    ++  + +     
    Formaldehyde++  + +     
    Glutaraldehyde++  + +     
    GasEthylene
    oxide
         +  ++ +
    Parafor–
    maldehyde
      ++  + 
    +
    ++  

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    Examples of proprietary disinfectants

    DisinfectantsExamples of
    proprietary disinfectants
    TypeCategory
    LiquidQuaternary ammonium compoundsA-33, CDQ, End-Bac, Hi-Tor, Mikro-Quat
    Phenolic compoundsHil-Phene, Matar, Midro-Bac, O-Syl
    Chlorine compoundsCholramine T, Chlorox, Purex
    Iodophor Hy-sine, Ioprep, Mikroklene, Wescodyne
    Alcohol, ethylN/A
    Alcohol, isoprophylN/A
    FormaldehydeSterac
    GlutaraldehydeCidex
    GasEthylene oxideCarboxide, Cryoxicide, Steroxicide
    ParafomaldehydeN/A

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    Questions? Contact EH&S Biosafety division.