As the world hunkers down in isolation to slow the spread of the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19), many are wondering what they can do to effectively clean areas and surfaces that may have been contaminated. Read on to find out how Isopropyl Alcohol 99% and Ethanol 190/200 can be used to properly sanitize these areas. We will also consider hydrogen peroxide for its disinfectant properties, beyond treating scraped knees.
Antibacterial Properties of Isopropyl Alcohol and Ethanol
Isopropyl alcohol (IPA) is an isomer of propyl alcohol with antibacterial properties. Ethanol has very similar properties. It is well known that both IPA & ethanol are highly effective disinfectants. They are thought to kill cells by denaturing cell proteins, interfering with cellular metabolism and dissolving cell lipo-protein membranes, also called envelope proteins.
There are different purity grades of IPA for different uses, though 99% is the most effective for disinfecting purposes. The advantages of using IPA as a cleaning agent are that it is non-corrosive to metals and is safe to use on plastics. It is considered ozone-safe and has a very low impact on the climate. It should be noted that isopropyl alcohol, especially IPA 99%, is extremely flammable and should always be handled with care.
The Cleanest Rooms Use IPA
In addition to high-grade commercial uses, isopropyl alcohol is mixed with water for use in many products you would find in your home. Rubbing alcohol, aftershave lotions, hand lotions, and cosmetics all use IPA. It is an inexpensive solvent for cosmetics, drugs, and shellacs. You’ll find it in acetone, used to remove nail polish. On a larger scale it is used to disinfect within pharmaceutical companies, hospitals, and cleanrooms.
Coronavirus, Envelope Proteins and Isopropyl Alcohol
Some viruses, including Coronaviruses, are surrounded by the envelope protein. This is a small membrane protein involved in several aspects of the virus’ life cycle such as survival and multiplication. Alcohol attacks and destroys this envelope protein, disintegrating the protective lipids.
Research has not yet shown exactly how long the Novel Coronavirus remains active on a surface. One study done in a hospital found that similar Coronaviruses can persist on hard surfaces for up to 9 days (Journal of Hospital Infection 2020, DOI: 10.1016/j.jhin.2020.01.022).
This highlights the importance of frequent and thorough cleaning with a disinfectant like isopropyl alcohol or ethanol, as they are thought to dissolve the membrane, or envelope around the virus.
Disinfectant Properties of Hydrogen Peroxide
Most people are familiar with hydrogen peroxide for its application as a mild wound treatment to kill bacteria - you can find it in most at-home first aid kits. Typically sold in concentrations of 3% or more, hydrogen peroxide has also been proven effective at killing household germs. It can be used straight from the bottle or diluted to .5% and left on surfaces for at least one minute to work disinfecting magic. It is considered an environmentally safe alternative to chlorine-based bleaches as it breaks down into water and oxygen.
There are many things, in addition to isolation and social distancing, that we can all do to slow the spread of COVID-19. This includes frequent hand washing, coughing or sneezing into our elbows, and refraining from touching our faces. Using an alcohol based hand sanitizer is also something we can all do to combat this virus. If you cannot find any at your local shopping outlets, consider making your own! Mix ¾ cup of isopropyl alcohol (rubbing alcohol), ¼ cup of aloe vera gel (to counteract the harshness of the alcohol), and 10 or so drops of your favorite essential oil for a pleasant scent. Stir it all up until it forms a gel and be sure to label it properly.
Another step we can take is to properly disinfect surfaces that may have been contaminated. Using Iris Lab Solutions ISO 99% or Ethanol 190/200 is a surefire way to kill the virus on any surface where it may linger.