Physical and chemical disinfection methods

Cleaning public and workspaces is very important, especially today.

Cleaning public and workspaces is very important, especially today. The recommendations issued by the World Health Organization mark the sterilization requirements in most cases and by the regulations of each government. Based on these protocols, different specific disinfection methods are determined for each situation.

Control corona and keep it clean Shot of healthcare workers wearing hazmat suits and sanitising a room during an outbreak chemical disinfection stock pictures, royalty-free photos & images

Disinfection is the process that is carried out to eliminate pathogenic microorganisms from surfaces and objects, but there are different ways to disinfect them. Therefore, below we detail what are the different physical and chemical disinfection methods that exist and in what situations we use them in SCS Group Cleaning Solution.

 Physical disinfection methods

The so-called physical methods are those that use physical variables such as temperature to achieve disinfection. We can differentiate three different methods.

 Thermal disinfection

We used heat in thermal disinfection as a disinfectant. High temperatures are used to operate this machine. Depending on the temperature reached, we can talk about:

  • Pasteurization. We immersed the object in water at a temperature of 70 ° C for 10 minutes. This is a method used to eliminate bacteria, but it is also effective against most viruses, fungi, and protozoa. It is useful for disinfecting a multitude of kitchen utensils, cleaning utensils, and even food.
  • Boiling. Here, the duration is the same, 10 minutes, but the object is immersed in boiling water. The level of disinfection is greater than in the previous process.
  • Ironing. An effective mechanism for disinfecting clothes is ironing. The temperature should be between 100 and 150 º C for 15 seconds.

 Disinfection with ultraviolet radiation

We can also use ultraviolet radiation lamps as a disinfecting agent. If applied for at least 20 seconds to surfaces, ultraviolet radiation kills most pathogens. However, they do not eliminate the load of microbes, so we do not consider it a sterilization process and its use is not as frequent as other disinfection methods.

 Ultrasonic disinfection

To carry out this type of disinfection, we introduced the material into tanks filled with disinfectant. Once inside, we apply ultrasound that makes the tank vibrate at high speed, thus generating small bubbles. These come into contact with the microorganisms present on the objects to be disinfected and eliminated.

Ultrasound disinfection cannot eliminate embedded dirt, however, it is usually used as a complement to manual cleaning, thus increasing its effectiveness.

 Chemical disinfection methods

These types of methods are the most widely used because they are much more common and easier to apply. The only drawback is that they do not guarantee the complete elimination of microorganisms.

We can differentiate between two different chemical disinfectants depending on whether we want to prevent the proliferation of microorganisms in living beings or in objects. If it is an inhibiting proliferation in living beings, antiseptics will be used. If what we want is to disinfect inanimate objects, the products that will be used are aseptic.

 Aseptic or disinfectant

These types of products have the same aim as antiseptics but are used to disinfect objects because of the toxicity they can pose to living beings. They are therefore used to clean surfaces or instrumental material. Its operation can also be of two types: it can act to eliminate microorganisms or inhibit their growth.

Its effectiveness is based on the concentration of the disinfectant and the reaction time, the time it is left in contact with the object or surface. Depending on their effectiveness, we can differentiate:

  • Low-level disinfectants: they eliminate many bacteria and fungi but are not effective with spores or viruses.
  • Intermediate level disinfectants–remove bacteria, fungi, and some viruses.
  • High-level disinfectants: eliminate many microorganisms. For its use, it is necessary to have good ventilation and rinse objects and surfaces well as they can be very irritating and toxic when handled.

We group the main groups of disinfectants used for chemical cleaning into four different blocks.

 Alcohols, aldehydes, and phenols

They are the most common disinfectants and act in microorganisms by destroying

The cell membrane. We use ethanol in concentrations above 70% as a spray or in solution for at least 20 minutes. They are effective against pathogens and bacteria.

We use aldehydes against bacteria, viruses, fungi, spores, and parasites. Formaldehyde dissolves between 4% and 37% and acts after 10 minutes of contact. Glutaraldehyde returns 1% and 50% and is effective after 10-12 hours of reaction.


We use them in concentrations between 1% and 10% and are effective after 20 to 30 minutes of contact. They are effective against bacteria and some viruses but do not react against fungi.


In solutions between 1% and 10% and it is necessary to let them act for 10-15 minutes. These are powerful antibiotics that are highly effective against most bacteria, viruses,, and fungi.


Some of the most widely used oxidants are hydrogen peroxide or ozone. We used them in concentrations between 10 and 25% and the contact time is 20 minutes.

 Generally, all the disinfection methods used by professionals we mention are effective. However, the most appropriate use and application for each situation must be taken into account, as well as the toxicity that they may entail.

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