How a disinfectant works?

Advice From Your Pharmacist

Disinfection and Disinfectants 


Microorganisms such as bacteria, fungi and viruses can be found on the surface of every object that we usually come into contact with. If given the chance, these microorganisms can cause infections and the infected person would need to seek medical help.

In order to reduce the risks of being infected, it is important that we practice good personal hygiene and make sure we do proper cleaning. Disinfection is a process that is meant to kill or remove microorganisms that can cause diseases.

Types of disinfectants 

Disinfectants are products which are used for disinfection. They are grouped based on

  • their chemical structure
  • the different types of microorganisms they kill
  • the speed in which they take effect

The type of disinfectant that you choose would have different levels of effectiveness against various types of microorganisms. The following table lists the more common types of disinfectants that are found in hand washes, hand rubs and cleaning liquids. Some of these disinfectants can also be found in aerosols and personal care products such as toiletries.

Types of disinfectant
Source: Adapted from Practice Good Personal Hygiene, by Pharmaceutical Society of Singapore (PSS) 

Hand Hygiene 

Hands hygiene   

Hand hygiene is an important part of personal hygiene and is essential in preventing the spread of the infection from one person to another person. Washing your hands with soap and water is a good method of hand hygiene and it reduces the possible risk of infections due to contamination.

You should practice proper hand washing and drying of your hands 

  • before and after preparing food
  • after going to the toilet
  • before and after eating
  • after blowing your nose
  • after smoking (Need help to quit smoking? Click here!)
  • after using your hand to cover your mouth when coughing or sneezing

If you are unable to find a place to wash your hand, hand rubs may be used instead. A hand-rub is an alcohol-based gel or liquid that is applied and rubbed into your hands to help with disinfection.

To use a hand rub, apply a sufficient amount of the gel or liquid onto the palm of one hand and rub your hands together. You can use the World Health Organization’s (WHO) method of hand washing to learn how to clean your hands properly with soap or hand rubs.

Our pharmacist can

  • help you choose an appropriate hand washing product to suit your needs
  • teach you the proper method of hand washing
  • advise you on the dos and don'ts of hand hygiene
  • advise you on what you should do it you develop an allergy to the hand wash or hand rub.

Source: Pharmaceutical Society of Singapore 

Updated on April 2020 

Copyright @ 2012 NHG Pharmacy. All rights reserved
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