Generally, most chemical agents have no capabilities of eliminating all the kinds and varieties of microbial including tubercle bacillus, filterable viruses and the bacterial spores. For this reason, rather than the process being referred to as chemical sterilization, it is better known as the chemical disinfection process.
Ideally, chemical disinfectants are used when sterilizing the article by use of heat proves not to be feasible. The disinfectants usually solidify or set the proteinaceous material like organisms and blood that is found in the protein precipitate.
However, it is not advisable to use chemical disinfection on instruments that have been contaminated by tissue fluid or blood. The actions of chemical disinfectants are influenced by various factors as highlighted here below.
The actions of most germicides are largely influenced by presence of pus, grease, oil or even blood. As such, before you start using the disinfectant on such articles, it is essential that you first clean off the surface using soap and water. This ensures that the disinfectant performs in an effective way.
When it comes to time and chemical disinfectants, this is a factor which tends to vary and while some disinfectants will take hours to get the job done, others on the other hand will achieve optimal effectiveness in seconds. This will be determined by how strong the disinfectant is and the nature of organisms and germs being eliminated. Some like vegetable organisms are destroyed in about half an hour others can take much longer than this.
In simple and clear words, weak chemical solutions are not as effective as strong solutions even though some chemical disinfectants do not follow this rule of thumb like ethyl alcohol. In this case, an aqueous solution of 70 percent is actually more germicidal compared to absolute alcohol.
More often than not, the effectiveness of a chemical disinfectant is at its best when used at room temperature. However, others will still perform much better with an increase in room temperature.
The uses of chemical disinfectants
Chemical disinfectants have quite a wide range of uses and to start with, they are mostly used on instruments and materials. Most of such instruments sterilized this way are those than are not capable of being sterilized using heat and instead, disinfectants are used. Some of the things that are disinfected using chemicals include cataract knives, cytoscopes and bougies.
In this case, they are immersed in germicides. Still, you should know that chemicals are usually used after dissolving in alcohol and water. There are so many chemical products that are emerging on the market now and then and it is essential that you are careful enough to ensure that you choose the best chemical disinfectants.
Other chemicals are applied on the skin to get rid of transient and resident organisms that harbor on the skin. This is mostly done during surgical procedures to ensure that the wound is not contaminated by germs unnecessarily. Chemical antiseptics are used to disinfect tissues as well.