5 best natural disinfectants to eliminate germs
List of 5 best natural disinfectants for killing the germs around you
Germs in nature are often perceived as a problem. Germs that can potentially cause disorders in living organisms are called pathogens. To get rid of these germs, disinfectants are used. A substance that is capable of destroying pathogens is termed a disinfectant. These disinfectants are responsible for the elimination of pathogens. While there are many household disinfectants, which type should one prefer? Natural or chemical? Which are the best disinfectants? Let’s find out without any further ado.
Which type of disinfectant is the best?
During the COVID-19 pandemic, it became essential to eliminate the novel coronavirus using sanitizers & disinfectants. There are many chemical disinfectants like bleach solutions that are available in the market that can eliminate it. But, there’s enough scientific evidence that bonafide the use of natural disinfectants as well. Many natural disinfectants are considered a much safer & better alternative to chemical disinfectants. Moreover, you need not worry about the negative environmental effects.
Natural disinfectants have minimal health risks & are often very safe to use. Chemical disinfectants can cause breathing disorders like asthma. They can even cause inconvenience in breathing for asthma patients by triggering asthma attacks. Whereas natural disinfectants are usually not toxic or slightly toxic in nature. Chemical disinfectants can cause skin & eye irritation, and in worst cases can even cause chemical poisoning.
Chemical disinfectants are highly unsafe for smaller children. Whereas, natural disinfectants are often more effective than their chemical counterparts. The only disadvantage they carry is the duration required to function. They are usually slower than chemical disinfectants. This means they require longer exposure & interaction time with the germs to effectively kill them.
Use fogger machines to spray disinfectants to improve the efficiency of disinfection. Using fogger machines allows disinfecting hard to reach areas.
You can check also check out our disinfectant range which are handpicked for safe, non-toxic and perfect for household use.
What are the 5 best Natural Disinfectants?
The 5 best natural disinfectants include alcohol, vinegar (dilute acetic acid), hydrogen peroxide (H2O2), hot water or steam (at 140°F to 160°F), and essential oils.
- These substances act as active ingredients. For example, hydrogen peroxide is around 0.5% to 5% in a disinfectant solution.
- The efficiency of the natural disinfectants is improved if applied after cleaning the surface with soap & water. Removal of dust, dirt, debris and other material helps the disinfectant to penetrate & eliminate the germs properly. Do you want to know the difference between cleaning & disinfecting? Check out our blog on cleaning vs disinfecting.
- The best natural disinfectants are the ones approved by Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). List N provided by EPA provides the list of disinfectants (natural & chemical) that are effective to eliminate the novel coronavirus.
Alcohol is one of the most effective disinfectants and the best natural disinfectant. While there are many alcohol compounds, only two alcohols can be used as disinfectants. These two alcoholic compounds are Ethyl alcohol & isopropyl alcohol (also called rubbing alcohol). It has been scientifically proven that alcohol-based disinfectants are effective only when they are 60% and above. The best results are shown at 70% concentration of alcohol. Even alcohol sanitizers contain around 70% concentration of alcohol.
Alcohol-based disinfectants have a wide application as they are capable of killing many pathogens. Moreover, they leave a pleasant (not applicable to everyone!) alcoholic odor. These disinfectants are even capable to deal with viruses that cause flu, common cold, and other common diseases.
The preparation of an alcohol-based disinfectant is quite simple. Mix about 70% of ethyl alcohol or rubbing alcohol with 30% water. Allow this newly formed solution to stabilize for a minute or so.
Note: Though edible alcohol contains ethyl alcohol, it cannot be used as a disinfectant. Do you want to know the reason behind it? Check out our blog on alcohol disinfectants.
Vinegar (Dilute Acetic Acid)
Vinegar is a commonly used kitchen ingredient. It can be considered a natural disinfectant but should be used as a last resort when alcohol-based or hydrogen peroxide based disinfectants are not available. Though it has certain disinfectant properties thanks to vinegar’s active ingredient acetic acid. It has an additional advantage over other disinfectants as it is capable of eliminating bacteria even with dirt, soap scum, and debris. The disinfectant properties of vinegar have been scientifically proven.
You can check out in detail whether vinegar is a disinfectant or not.
Malt vinegar with 10% acetic acid is a preferred disinfectant. White distilled vinegar (4% to 7% acetic acid) commonly used in cooking can also be used as a disinfectant. The major disadvantage of vinegar is that it takes around 20 to 30 minutes to eliminate pathogens. Moreover, vinegar is not registered by EPA as a disinfectant. Even CDC doesn’t recognize vinegar as an effective disinfectant. Vinegar should not be used on wooden, iron, and aluminum surfaces.
Hydrogen Peroxide (H2O2)
Do not get fooled by looking at its chemical formula. It is not water (H2O) or even has any property that is even by far similar to it. H2O2 is altogether a different compound. Hydrogen peroxide acts as an active ingredient in disinfectant solutions. These disinfectants are often available in the market. But, you can further dilute these solutions by adding water to them.
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), when compared with chemical disinfectants like bleach solutions, hydrogen peroxide isn’t quite effective. But, it does satisfactorily eliminate pathogens which include micro-organisms like bacteria & viruses. It has been proven scientifically that hydrogen peroxide can be more effective than any other disinfectant in eliminating certain bacterial pathogens.
- At least a 0.5% concentration of hydrogen peroxide should be present in the disinfectant solution.
- The efficiency of hydrogen peroxide disinfectant reduces when exposed to heat & light. To avoid it, the disinfectant solution should be stored in a cool dark place.
Hot Water & Steam
Water at a high temperature can kill bacteria. The temperature of water or steam should be above 140°F. To improve the efficiency, one may use another disinfectant along with hot water or steam. This also expands the range of pathogens that can be eliminated. For example, hot water or steam cannot kill viruses by itself. But, when combined with a chemical disinfectant like bleach it becomes capable of eliminating viruses too.
Check out more details about how hot water kills germs.
These oils are derived from plants like patchouli, lavender, tea, peppermint, cinnamon, and others which exhibit antibacterial, antiviral, and antiseptic properties. The range of pathogens depends on the type of essential oil. These oils can be mixed with warm water to prepare homemade disinfecting & cleaning solutions. They can be mixed with other disinfectants to improve the efficiency of disinfection as well as provide fragrance.
Due to the ill effects of chemical disinfectants, natural disinfectants are preferred owing to their safety. But, not all natural disinfectants can be as effective as their chemical counterparts. It is to be noted that the range of pathogens that can be eliminated depends upon the natural disinfectant itself.
It should also be noted that the solution used for disinfection purposes has an optimum concentration of the active ingredient. Natural disinfectants require a longer time for interaction with pathogens to eliminate them. When disinfecting with natural products, make sure the concentration is high enough to be effective and you've let the solution sit long enough to kill pathogens.