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Healthy Farms - Healthy Agriculture

Guide to Disinfectants horses photo by Krista Cheney, link to home page

General Farm Biosecurity Practices—
Guide to Disinfectants

Disinfectants should be used in footbaths and after cleaning equipment and livestock premises. Chlorine bleach, phenolic compounds, quaternary ammoniums, and oxidizing compounds are commonly used to disinfect boots. Six classes of disinfectants are described below.

Chlorine [KLOR-een] compounds (e.g., Clorox®, generic bleach)

  • Chlorine eliminates most viruses, bacteria, molds, and algae, but not bacterial spores.
  • Chlorine compounds are good disinfectants on clean surfaces.
  • Chlorine compounds are more active in warm water.
  • Chlorinated compounds can irritate skin and damage clothing, rubber goods, and some metals.
  • Chlorine-based disinfectants are generally compatible with soaps but should never be mixed with acids.
  • Most chlorine solutions are unstable and lose activity over time.

Tips for using chlorine disinfectants:

  • Use only after removing organic matter.
  • Mix a new solution of chlorine at least every 24 hours.
  • Do not mix chlorine-based disinfectants with acids.

Phenolic [feen OHL ick] compounds (e.g., Pine-sol®, One Stroke®, Osyl®)

  • Phenolics are generally active against bacteria, some viruses, and fungi, but not bacterial spores.
  • Phenolics will kill the bacteria that causes Johne's disease.
  • Phenolics have good activity in the presence of some organic material.
  • Phenolics are good all-purpose disinfectants for farm use.

Tips for using phenolic disinfectants:

  • Follow the directions for proper dilution.
  • Note that phenolics are not effective against rotaviruses or the virus that causes Foot and Mouth Disease.

Quaternary ammonium [uh MOHN ee um] compounds (e.g., Roccal D Plus®)

  • Quaternary ammoniums are effective against many bacteria and some viruses, but not molds or bacterial spores.
  • Older quaternary ammonium compounds are good on relatively clean surfaces.
  • Newer quaternary ammonium compounds retain activity in the presence of some organic material.
  • Quaternary ammoniums are cationic detergents; however, most are inactivated by contact with soaps or soap residues.

Tips for using quaternary ammonium disinfectants:

  • Rinse soap from surfaces before disinfecting with quaternary ammoniums.
  • Note that quaternary ammoniums are not particularly effective against the Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD) virus or the bacteria that causes Johne's disease.

Oxidizing compounds (e.g., Virkon S®, Oxy-Sept 333®)

  • Some oxidizing disinfectants are effective against many bacteria, a broad range of viruses, fungi, and bacterial spores.
  • Oxidizers are relatively stable in the presence of some organic material.

Tips for using oxidizing disinfectants:

  • Stabilized peroxide compounds can be mixed with quaternary ammonia.
  • Oxidizing agents such as Virkon S® appear to have a wide spectrum of activity against many kinds of germs, including the virus that causes Foot and Mouth Disease.
  • Oxy-Sept 333®, based on peroxyacetic acid, has been approved by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for killing the virus that causes Foot and Mouth Disease and is reportedly active against a broad spectrum of germs.

Iodophors [eye OH duh forz] (e.g., Betadine® and Weladol®)

  • Iodine compounds have been used as antiseptics and disinfectants for many years.
  • Iodophors are good disinfectants, but are less effective in the presence of organic debris.
  • Iodophors are generally less toxic than other disinfectants, but can stain clothes and some surfaces.

Tips for using iodophor disinfectants:

  • Keep away from metals and out of sunlight. These may inactivate iodophor compounds.
  • Do not mix iodophors with quaternary ammonium disinfectants. This will inactivate them.

Chlorhexidine [klor HEX I deen] (e.g., Nolvasan® -S)

  • Chlorhexidine is active against many bacteria and viruses, but not against spore-forming bacteria.

Tips for using chlorhexidine disinfectants:

  • Use the formulation appropriate for what you are disinfecting. For instance, Nolvasan® Skin and Wound Cleanser or Surgical Scrub are appropriate for hand washing, whereas, Nolvasan® Solution is appropriate for sanitizing boots and equipment.

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Last modified October 06 2010 09:15 PM

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