What SPECIFIC microbes does rubbing alcohol NOT kill? Please provide a documented reference. THANKS!?
- TechLv 41 decade agoFavorite Answer
Actually alcohol does kill bacteria and kills them very well.
The alcohol should be 70% ethanol or isopropanol. The 30% that is water in this solution is important because the water helps to transport the alcohol into the cell where proteins are denatured (damaged enough to prevent replication of the bacteria). These alcohols combine very well with water (all being polar solvents) allowing the transport to occur more efficiently.
The only bacteria that I think could better withstand (but certainly not grow) in alcohol is Mycobacterium tuberculosis (and any other Mycobacterium spp.). The waxy outer coating on this microbe inhibits the transport into the cell.
Over the last 25-30 years I've been in Microbiology, I've never seen any of the commonly encountered organisms "grow like a culture" in an alcoholic solution; even MRSA.
To grow, a bacteria needs food and water. No commonly encountered medically important bacteria use alcohol as a fuel. It is generated as a waste by-product of fermentation of certain sugars (mannitol, glucose, maltose, etc) by certain bacteria, but not used as a fuel.
There may be a bacteria that can survive (barely), however those tend to be extremely esoteric and not usually occur as human pathogens.
To explain this consider the act of drawing blood. The intended puncture site is typically swabbed with 70% isopropanol, allowing it to dry, then a needle is inserted into the arm and blood obtained. If MRSA (or any other bacteria) were not killed by the alcohol, then you would see millions of infected puncture wounds where blood has been drawn and this is simply not the case.
HTHSource(s): I'm a Registered Medical Technologist MT(ASCP).
- 7 years ago
It is important to note that hospital grade alcohol rubs are greater than 70% alcohol for a reason. As noted in a previous answer exposure to 70% alcohol for 15 seconds is required to kill bacteria and viruses. Given that alcohol begins to evaporate immediately, 70% alcohol rubs and hand sanitizers do not maintain the required 70% level for the required 15 secs. Both the individual who provided the answer and the major alcohol gel manufacturer trip over their own facts. Non-alcohol based hand sanitizers and rubs are equally if not more effective, provide residual protection and are significantly safer. It is interesting to note that hospitals utilize the same non-alcohol technology to sterilize their patient rooms, exam rooms, operating rooms, medical equipment. They reason being that alcohol would quickly evaporate in the surrounding air and upon igniting produce a napalm like explosion.
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- essentiallysoloLv 71 decade ago
alcohol doesn't actually kill any of them, what it does is denature their protien coats so they slide off, much the same as soap. In fact, hospitals have found MRSA growing like a culture in alcohol.Source(s): RN