Alcohols (both Isopropanol and Ethanol) have been long recognized as effective disinfectants with a broad range of application uses. When alcohol levels reach 50%- 90% active ingredient, they can be very effective at reducing or eliminating Mycobacterium, vegetative forms of bacteria and fungi, and some viruses. They are not sporicidal and have varying effectiveness against small non-enveloped viruses, especially at concentrations below 75%. Surfaces must be cleaned prior to disinfection for alcohol to disinfect an environmental surface. Due to the rapid evaporation of alcohol from surfaces, multi-minute contact times can be difficult to achieve in a facility, limiting the effectiveness of its use as a disinfectant.
Alcohols are highly flammable and volatile, and can irritate skin with frequent contact. Often Healthcare facilities will not use alcohol disinfectants around patients on oxygen due to the increased fire risk