Disinfection Chart

Adapted from Infection Prevention and Control Practices for Personal Services: Tattooing, Electrolysis, Ear and Body piercing. Health Canada, July 1999. This chart is not intended to be inclusive of all approved high, intermediate and low-level disinfectants.
Level of DisinfectionWhen to UseDisinfection Active IngredientsContact Times (Approximately)AdvantagesDisadvantages
High-Level
Kills all micro-organisms (bacteria, fungi and viruses) except bacterial spores
Use on semi-critical items

Items that come into contact with non-intact skin or mucous membranes but do not penetrate them
1:50 chlorine bleach (based on 5.25%) chlorine bleach) solution (one part bleach and 49 parts water) 1000 parts per million (ppm)Longer than 20 minutesInexpensive, fast actingCorrodes metal, may destroy adhesives with prolonged soaking
Two percent glutaraldehyde (not recommended for personal service settings)45 minutes - follow manulfacturer's instructionsNon-corrosive to metal, rubber or plastics, reusableToxic fumes, expensive. Not recommended for personal service settings
Six percent hydrogen peroxide45 minutes - follow manufacturer's instructionsEnvironmentally friendly, no residueOxidizing properties may be destructive to some equipment (brass, zinc, copper, nickel and silver)
Seven percent stabilized hydrogen peroxide30 minutes - follow manufacturer's instructionsEnvironmentally friendly, no residual, irritant to skin or to respiratory tractOxidizing properties may be destructive to some equipment (brass, zinc, copper, nickel and silver)
0.55 percent orthophthalaldehyde (OPA)Ten minutes - follow manufacturer's instructionsFast acting, no mixing neededStains proteins
Immediate-Level
Kills most bacteria, fungi, viruses and mycobacteria (tuberculocidal)
Use on semi-critical items

As above
70 to 90 percent isopropylalcoholTen minutesFast acting, leaves no residueCan damage rubber and plastics
70 to 90 percent Ethyl alcoholTen minutesFast acting, leaves no residueCan damage rubber and plastics. Flammable
1:50 chlorine bleach (based on 5.25% chlorine bleach) solution (one part bleach and 49 parts water)Longer than 10 minutesInexpensive, fast actingCorrodes metal, may destroy adhesives with prolonged soaking
Low-Level
Kills some viruses bacteria, and fungi
Use on non-critical items. Items that contact intact skin and not mucous membranes, or items that do not ordinarily touch the client. May be used for routine housekeeping.Quaternary ammoniumFollow manufacturer's instructionsGood cleaning agent for environmental surfacesCannot be used on instruments, not recommended as an antiseptic
1:500 chlorine bleach (based on 5.25% chlorine bleach) solution (one part bleach and 499 parts water) or 100 parts per million (ppm)Longer than 10 minutesInexpensive, fast actingCorrodes metal, may destroy adhesives with prolonged soaking
Three percent hydrogen peroxide10 minutesEnvironmentally safeOxidizing properties may be destructive to some equipment (brass, zinc, copper, nickel and silver)
PhenolsFollow manufacturer's instructionsEasy to obtain, clean and disinfectResidual phenols on porous materials may cause tissue irritation even when thoroughly rinsed. For environmentally surfaces only

Please adhere to the manufacturer’s instructions for use, some disinfectants may require rinsing after use.

Source: Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care, Infection Prevention and Control Best Practices for Personal Service Settings, January 2009

January 2013