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Facts on Cleaning and Disinfecting with Alcohols

Dr. Saroj Yadav
Lab Manager, ITW Contamination Control – Electronics

Because the sudden and desperate need to prevent the spread of COVID-19, there has been a lot of confusion on if and how alcohols can be used to disinfect and sterilize. While Techspray traditionally has specialized in alcohol products intended to clean electronics and other industrial applications, it seems natural to consider our broad line of isopropyl alcohol (IPA) for that type of surface treatment.

While that is reasonable, some caveats need to be explained. Techspray does not offer cleaners listed on EPA’s List N: Disinfectants for Coronavirus (COVID-19). The following are common methods of surface treatment per CDC guidelines*, and how Techspray alcohol products can be expected to perform:


The first step for preventing the spread of COVID-19 is cleaning surfaces, which physically removes virus and other contaminants. This is similar to washing your hands with soap and water, and very effective when followed by a disinfecting process. Alcohol products, including pre-saturated wipes, are effective and efficient for hard surface cleaning, and should be considered as critical part of an effective workspace hygiene regimen.


The second step is disinfecting. A disinfecting agent actually kills a virus. Alcohols are no longer specifically recommended by the CDC for disinfecting hard surfaces from SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes COVID-19). However, IPA and ethanol have been shown to be effective on lipophilic viruses (e.g. herpes, vaccinia, and influenza) per studies reported by the CDC. Ethanol is also effective on many hydrophilic viruses (e.g. adenovirus, enterovirus, rhinovirus, and rotaviruses). Their antimicrobial effectiveness drops when diluted below 50% concentration. The optimum concentration is 60-90% solutions in water, because water may denature microbe proteins and increase contact time by extending evaporation.


Alcohols have been shown to be effective as bactericides, fungicides, and virucides. However, they cannot be considered for sterilization because they do not kill bacterial spores. Techspray alcohol products should NOT be used for those applications.

“Sterile” and “sterilize” have specific meanings to regulatory agencies, so should not be used haphazardly. Beware of products with unsubstantiated or misleading brand names or claims of disinfection or sterilization. At Techspray, what you see is what you get – the most diverse and effective line of alcohol workplace cleaning products.

For more information, go to https://www.techspray.com/isopropyl-alcohol-ipa or contact us at info@itwcce.com or 800-858-4043.

Click to check out Techspray's full line of alcohol cleaning products.

* Source: https://www.cdc.gov/infectioncontrol/guidelines/disinfection/disinfection-methods/ chemical.html

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