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Alcohol is not a medical treatment, but is frequently used in health-care settings to disinfectant surfaces in order to prevent the transmission of common viruses or bacteria.[1]

Ethyl alcohol[edit | edit source]

Ethyl alcohol, also known as ethanol, can destroy any virus enveloped in fat, when used in the correct concentrations, including:

and some non-enveloped viruses, including:

Ethyl alcohol is not effective against the hepatitis A virus or polioviruses.[2]

Ethyl alcohol should be used at 60-80% concentrations.[2]

Isopropyl alcohol[edit | edit source]

Isopropyl alcohol, also known as isopropyl, can destroy any virus enveloped in fat, including the coronaviruses that cause COVID-19, SARS when used in the correct concentration, but unlike ethyl alcohol it cannot inactivate non-enveloped viruses.[1]

Isopropyl is also effective against a variety of bacteria, including:

Methanol[edit | edit source]

Methanol is not used in healthcare settings due to its low effectiveness against bacteria.[1]

Limitations of alcohol disinfectants[edit | edit source]

Surfaces must be cleaned before disinfecting with alcohol, which will remove the protein-rich materials that alcohol cannot penetrate.[3][2]

Alcohols are not recommended for sterilizing medical and surgical materials principally because they penetrate protein-rich materials, and they cannot inactivate the spores caused by some forms of bacteria.[2]

Alcohol-based hand sanitizer[edit | edit source]

Alcohol-based hand sanitizers (ABHS) are effective against many different types of viruses and bacteria; a 60% strength concentration is recommended for the virus causing the 2019-2020 coronavirus pandemic.[3] However, washing hands carefully soap and running water is more effective against coronaviruses, including the coronavirus that causes COVID-19.[3]

Alcohol-based hand sanitizers have limited effectiveness when incorrect technique is used, not enough sanitizer is used, and when they are not used consistently.[4]

Drinking alcohol[edit | edit source]

Drinking alcohol does not provide protection against coronaviruses, and drinking alcohol frequently or excessively can be extremely dangerous.[5]

ME/CFS[edit | edit source]

A number of different alcohol-based disinfectants are effective against common viruses and bacteria which have been reported to trigger ME/CFS.[citation needed]

Alcohol intolerance is also found in a significant proportion of ME/CFS patients. Some ME/CFS patients also develop mast cell activation syndrome, which involves an intolerance to alcohol and many other substances.

See also[edit | edit source]

Learn more[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) - The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is a U.S. government agency dedicated to epidemiology and public health. It operates under the auspices of the Department of Health and Human Services.

The information provided at this site is not intended to diagnose or treat any illness.
From MEpedia, a crowd-sourced encyclopedia of ME and CFS science and history.