Cleaning home table sanitizing kitchen table surface with disinfectant spray bottle washing surfaces with towel and gloves. COVID-19 prevention sanitizing inside.

Contributed By Secure Clean BSI

We can learn a lot from a study released last year about the use of isopropyl alcohol (IPA) for cleaning and disinfecting. The study, "Why 70 Percent Isopropyl Alcohol is a Better Disinfectant than 99 percent Isopropyl Alcohol When It Comes to COVID-19," points out how using a higher concentration of IPA does not necessarily produce positive results.

So, we are all on the same page, isopropyl alcohol is also known as rubbing alcohol. Used as an alternative to traditional disinfectants in medical facilities and other locations, it can eliminate or inactivate many types of germs, bacteria and pathogens on surfaces.  

According to the study, among the reasons 70 percent IPA is more effective at eliminating the coronavirus on surfaces, compared to a 99 percent concentration, are the following:

- At 99 percent, IPA is purer but more volatile (unstable) than a 70 percent solution.

- At 99 percent, IPA evaporates very quickly, reducing its efficacy.

- At 70 percent, there is more water in the IPA, extending the time the solution remains "wet" on a surface before evaporating.

- The added "dwell time" improves the efficacy of the IPA compound.

- The water allows the IPA to breakdown the cell walls of the virus, causing proteins to spill out and "denature."

"The term 'denature' means that the natural characteristics of the virus have been eliminated by the IPA," says Rick VanderKoy, CEO and founder of Secure Clean BSI, a cleaning contracting company in Illinois. "This makes the pathogens no longer infectious, helping to stop the spread of the disease."

However, VanderKoy points out this study has broader implications.

"Since the beginning of the pandemic, many cleaning contractors have been under diluting disinfectants," he says. "The intent is to make the disinfectant more powerful; but the opposite may be occurring."

VanderKoy reminds contractors that when it comes to fighting COVID, adhere to the manufacturer's recommended dilution ratios.

"Manufacturers have tested and evaluated their products at different dilutions. Let's follow their guidance."