Research for infection protection


The unspecific mechanism of action of alcohols, such as 1-propanol and 2-propanol does not lead to resistances

Short-chain Alcohol with three C atoms. 1-propanol has a linear structure, whereas 2-propanol or isopropanol are branched. Due to their properties (e.g. high volatility, rapid effect and low toxicity) both 1-propanol and 2-propanol are often used in hand disinfectants. Here, they have excellent bactericidal activity. 

Comparative analyses on the bactericidal activities of ethanol, 1-propanol and 2-propanol show significant differences in terms of the relation between concentration and reduction rates. The activity of the three alcohols has been tested with three different concentrations after 5 minutes of exposure time in the European Suspension Test (EST). Already in the lowest test concentration, the results demonstrate the faster and better bactericidal activity of 1-propanol. For all test bacteria, including Mycobacterium terrae, 1-propanol yields the required log 5 reduction factor with a concentration of 20 per cent. When the concentration is increased to 30 per cent, also 2-propanol achieves the required log 5 reduction; ethanol needs a concentration of 40 per cent. Compared to the other two propanols, ethanol yields for all test bacteria a lower bactericidal activity but a higher virucidal activity. 

Hand disinfectants with alcohol concentrations > 60 % v/v and that, for example, also contain combinations of 1-propanol and 2-propanol, achieve a good bactericidal activity and virucidal activity against enveloped viruses. Only exceptional cases, e.g. in case of Noroviruses, require virucidal activity. Here, ethanol-based hand disinfectants are used.