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Understanding What Hospital-Grade Disinfectants Are

Understanding What Hospital-Grade Disinfectants Are

While most commercial disinfectants can kill most pathogens, hospital-grade disinfectants are significantly more potent. But what’s the difference between them? Disinfectants that we use in our homes and offices kill common bacteria. On the other hand, hospital-grade disinfectants can eliminate microorganisms usually found only in healthcare settings like hospitals and medical practices, otherwise known as healthcare-associated infections (HAIs.)

There are five primary EPA-registered chemicals that combat HAIs. Understanding what hospital-grade disinfectants are involves knowing more about these chemicals and determining the best application for each.

Quaternary Ammonium

Quaternary ammonium is a low-level disinfectant used on low-risk surfaces such as floors, tray tables, blood pressure cuffs, and walls. It can also be used on hard surfaces and is effective against most bacteria, viruses, and fungi. You’ll use quaternary ammonium in routine cleaning.


Hypochlorite is a chlorine disinfectant and is very similar to bleach. Even though it’s considered safe, it can be corrosive to metal and discolor clothing and sheets. It’s considered a fast-acting disinfectant and successfully kills bacteria, fungi, and viruses. Hypochlorite is used for moderate to high infectious areas like bathrooms and places where blood was spilled.


Phenolic has a chemical makeup similar to alcohol and was first introduced as a surgical antiseptic. Today, it can be found in disinfectants and even mouthwash in minimal concentrations. High concentrations can be very toxic and cause burns. Phenolics disinfects non-porous surfaces but isn’t effective in highly infectious cleaning applications.

Peracetic Acid

Peracetic acid is incredibly effective at eliminating all pathogens; it kills viruses, bacteria, fungi, microbes, and spores. Medical professionals use peracetic acid to sterilize medical equipment, including sensitive equipment such as dialysis machines. When diluted, peracetic acid becomes unstable. Even its pure form is highly corrosive and can cause burns to the skin and eyes.

Accelerated Hydrogen Peroxide

The least toxic of the five EPA chemicals is accelerated hydrogen peroxide, which is a stabilized version of household hydrogen peroxide. It’s long-lasting and safe while still killing bacteria, viruses, microbes, fungi, and blood-borne pathogens.

After understanding what hospital-grade disinfectants are, you can determine which chemical cleaner is most suitable for various applications. Find healthcare supplies online with Quick Supplies Online to effectively clean your medical practice!

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