Disinfectant and Non-Chlorine Bleach

First, There is not “A non-chlorine bleach” — there are many.

 

Second, “chlorine bleach” is not “liquid chlorine”. Liquid

chlorine is the liquid for of the element chlorine which boils at

about -29F. Do not confuse “chlorine bleach” with “liquid

chlorine”. Chlorine bleach is a solution of sodium hypochlorite,

and it is the hypochlorite that is the active ingredient.

 

Third, it depends upon what microbes are the target of the

disinfection. Some agents work better on some microbes than other

agents. Note: here I use the term “microbe” as a generic term

referring to viruses, bacteria, mold, spores, etc. all lumped

together, even though they are very different. In practice, some

disinfecting agents may be more effective against some types of

“microbes”, and other agents are more effective against other forms.

 

There are several readily available substances that are used in place of hypochlorite bleaches.

        Hydrogen peroxide is commonly used as a disinfectant and it

is very effective against many microbes. Its mechanism is a rather

complicated decomposition of the hydrogen peroxide into various

intermediates before ending up as molecular oxygen, which is why it

foams when you rinse your mouth out with peroxide. Its shortcoming

is that it tends not to be too stable once the bottle is opened.

       Alcohols: usually ethanol (grain alcohol) or isopropanol

(rubbing alcohol) are both very effective disinfectants. Their

shortcoming is flammability and toxicity if ingested.

       There is an entire class of chemical substances with the

daunting name “quaternary ammonium salts” or “quats” for short.

There are used in a variety of  hand and body wipes. They are

relatively non-toxic (to humans), stable (to light and air), and

effective against a wide range of microbes. They are frequently

used in combination with an alcohol in hand and body wipes. But

they are also used in surface cleaners like “Envy” (this is not an

endorsement, but only used to identify a type of product).

       These are only a few of the substitutes “out there” for

non-hypochlorite disinfectants. That field is a large area of

on-going research and development by companies who make those types

of products.

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