Disinfecting – peroxides and why disinfectants don’t clean

A couple of good articles in the trade journals recently about disinfecting.

I pulled aside a great article – probably the best I’ve read on Disinfecting – from last months Cleaning and Maintenance Management magazine.

The Science Of Disinfectants

Worth reading – but a couple of things you really want to focus on.

First, under the heading “The Right Stuff” the author talks about how the surfactants in cleaning compounds negate the effect of quaternary ammonia disinfectants.  Has to do with the surfactants having an opposite ion charge to the quat – thus canceling each other out.

We’ve always talked about the need to clean and disinfect as two separate operations – that quats don’t clean – this is the first explanation of the science behind it that I’ve seen.

Here’s a discussion of the issue from another article.


Note that while a lot of contractors specify disinfecting, they usually only clean – which is the most important of the two – rarely is the customer willing to pay for the two step process usually required to “clean and disinfect”.

A second interesting piece to this article discusses peroxide cleaners’ disinfecting action.

We converted to hydrogen peroxide cleaners a couple of years ago for other reasons – greener cleaning, safer, simpler to manage the inventory, etc – and in general the products we use every day  are not EPA certified as a disinfectant – but if you read the discussion of the chemistry, it’s obvious that at any concentration they are going to have some disinfecting properties.

Happy reading,




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