1
$\begingroup$

I am interested in knowing why a 60-80% solution of alcohol (usually ethanol or 2-propanol) can effectively kill vegetative bacteria and fungi. I know that it can coagulate essential proteins like enzymes but the process has never been explained to me.

I'm also interested in knowing how aldehydes like the polymerized form of glutaraldehyde inactivates proteins and nucleic acids. Could someone with any insight / knowledge share what they know?

$\endgroup$
1
$\begingroup$

Alcohols are dehydrating - they remove water from the cell. And since cells need water to survive, this is lethal to bacteria. However, in order to work effectively, an alcohol needs the proper amount of time to penetrate the cell membrane of the bacterium. If the percentage of alcohol is too high, it will evaporate before entering the cell. Too low, and it will enter the cell but not be lethal. 70% alcohol turns out to be the most effective concentration for use as a surface disinfectant with many different types bacteria.

$\endgroup$

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.