Chemical germicides, also known as disinfectants, antimicrobials, sporicides and sanitizers, are formulated to destroy pathogenic microorganisms like bacteria, fungi and viruses. They come in three varieties: sterilants, which are used on medical equipment, devices and surfaces to kill microorganisms including bacterial spores; disinfectants, which kill nearly all microbial life, except for bacterial spores; and antiseptics, which destroy organisms on living tissue and skin.

Sterilants are registered with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and approved for marketing for use on medical devices by the Food and Drug Administration. Tuberculocidal/virucidal chemical germicides that are EPA-approved as hospital disinfectants can be used to decontaminate spills of bodily fluid in patient care and laboratory areas. OSHA also regulates the use of chemical germicides in its Bloodborne Pathogens Standard.