How harmful is disinfectant?

Since Corona has taken hold of the world, the demand for high-quality disinfectants has been particularly high.

But concerns arise again and again: are disinfectants harmful? And if so, in what respects and to what extent?

We have gathered all the information for you.

Wie schädlich ist Desinfektionsmittel?

Table of contents

Dangers due to disinfectants

In fact, some scientists warn against the heavy and excessive use of disinfectants. Finally, an effective disinfectant must contain strongly cleansing substances, which, however, can attack not only the skin but also the respiratory tract. But basically it always comes down to quantity. This determines how harmful disinfectants can be – or not.

Dry skin

In most cases, alcohol is the cleaner in a disinfectant. But ethanol or isopropanol dry out the skin, attack the skin’s natural acid mantle and can thus cause cracks and skin damage. This makes the skin more vulnerable and a weaker target for pathogens.

Irritated airways

Sprays and disinfectants for surfaces are mainly responsible for irritated respiratory tract. These often contain organic solvents that release unpleasant or even harmful vapors. In extreme cases, these disinfectants can cause chronic obstructive pulmonary disease as well as asthma. The risk is particularly elevated for people who work in the medical field. But individuals should also be careful not to be steadily exposed to fumes from disinfectant sprays and surface cleaners.

Irritated mucous membranes

Your respiratory system and the body’s defense mechanisms include mucous membranes. The mucous membranes in the mouth, nose and eye may show a burning sensation in the throat, coughing irritation or redness if disinfectants are used excessively. This may also be accompanied by dryness in the throat.

Packaging labels

The following pictograms and markings can be found on disinfectants:

how-dangerous-is-disinfectant pictogram

According to the Hazardous Material Data and Hazard Statements phrases, a disinfectant with this pictogram may be “highly flammable” (H225), so should be kept away from heat and open flames.


The signal with the red frame and the black exclamation mark indicates that the product may cause severe eye irritation according to H319 and that drowsiness and dizziness may sometimes occur if used incorrectly (H336).

Disinfection, spectrum of action and effect with virus types

There is a spectrum of activity among the various disinfectants. Not every disinfectant is effective against every virus, which is why it is important to pay attention to the correct name – depending on the purpose.

Limited virucidal

A limited virucidal disinfectant is effective against enveloped viruses. The novel coronavirus is among them, as are hepatitis B and C, mumps, measles, Zika, and influenza viruses.

Limited virucidal plus

In addition to the viruses that can be killed by the limited virucidal disinfectant, a limited virucidal plus disinfectant can also render noro, rota and adenoviruses harmless.


A virucidal disinfection not only kills enveloped but also non-enveloped viruses. If you want to play it safe, look for a virucidal disinfectant.

For disinfectants against viruses, a high alcohol content is the ideal case in order to be able to protect against the pathogens in the best possible way and to obtain a perfect cleaning. If you disinfect specifically, this may cause dryness of the hands, but it does not yet damage the skin permanently. How harmful disinfectants are depends on the existing skin health, but also on the frequency of treatment of the skin with the corresponding agent.

What disinfectants combat corona?

Currently, protection against infection with the novel coronavirus is the primary concern for many people. Therefore, if you want to get a disinfectant, you should make sure that the disinfectant is limited virucidal, because the coronavirus is an enveloped virus. Caution: if the disinfectant has the label antibacterial, this is not enough to kill the novel coronavirus.

Hand disinfectants often contain harmful substances

If you want to be gentle on your skin, you can make sure to choose a product with ethanol when buying a disinfectant. For this alcohol is much less harmful than isopropanol, but the cleaning effect is similarly good. You can also counteract any dehydration with a greasy cream.

Is disinfectant harmful to children?

For children, regular and thorough hand washing is recommended above all. Special disinfectants for children do not yet exist. In principle, children can use disinfectants, but small children in particular should only do so under supervision, and schoolchildren should be taught how to use them properly. The alcohol contained in disinfectants can be dangerous for children if, for example, they lick their fingers. Then, in the worst case, there is a threat of poisoning. That’s why you should take extra care when helping your kids clean their hands – and give handwashing the benefit of the doubt.

What harmless disinfectant against corona?

If you want to be well prepared against an infection with the new corona virus and at the same time enjoy care and fragrance, we would like to recommend the Wiesenberg disinfectant to you. We’ve put all our expertise to work to create the ideal product for you. The result is a disinfectant that convinces with a fresh scent and an exclusive care active ingredient. Try it out!