Skin Irritant Disinfectants – How Dangerous Are They Really?

Allergic reactions and skin irritation from disinfectants? What the state of research says about additives and pollutants in disinfectants:


Cleaning of crossfit equipment and sports clothing

We agree that cleaning EMS equipment or the equipment in your Crossfit box is one of the daily tasks. EMS vests and underwear as well as other sports textiles are regularly disinfected and washed hygienically as part of a good hygiene concept. Cleaning must be quick and practical. However, it is obvious that users and customers can come into contact with the disinfectant itself or the residues.

Chemical clubs, criticism, consumer protection, professional environment indispensable, blablabl, skin bla, kills acid mantle etc. pp

The need

About the need to implement an adequate hygiene strategy as a basis for avoiding smear infections and the spread of germs in EMS studios we have already drawn attention to this in our last blog entry. More information here: […]

The implementation of a hygiene strategy should not only protect against typical dangers such as flu or gastrointestinal diseases. It is also said to protect against skin diseases. These are a main problem that one can expose oneself to in facilities of all kinds with poor hygiene [1].

In addition to the required reduction in pathogens (bacteria, viruses, fungi, […]), the tolerability for users and customers must be guaranteed for (continuous) hygiene prophylaxis in order to offer a positive user experience .

The problem with the skin

The media has been reporting on the risk of harmful substances in disinfectants for some time. In particular, consumer protection initiatives [3], scientific institutions [4] and affected professional groups [6] frequently point to a skin- damaging potential and the possible cause of allergies in connection with their use. Before we outline the immediately possible consequences for the skin, it is first necessary to show the context in which these negative side effects can arise:

Skin contact with disinfectants occurs both when using disinfection processes and when touching the contact surfaces to be disinfected. The fact that many disinfectants soak into the surface of the area to be disinfected (if alcohol-based) or remain on it with residues (alternative agents such as QAC) contributes to direct contact with the chemicals in question.

Even harmless ingredients such as alcohol or other active ingredients in common disinfectants can endanger the material and the user . More about material damage caused by pollutants in conventional disinfectants in our blog.

The pollutants

So-called quaternary ammonium compounds (QAC) are used regularly as a widespread group of active ingredients for disinfection and cleaning products in many branches in surface and skin disinfection . In addition to material-damaging properties , these are suspected of causing lasting damage not only to the environment , but also to the users of these products in particular. The most commonly used active ingredients in this group are:

  • Benzalkonium chloride
  • Didecyldimethylammonium chloride
  • Dimethylbenzylammonium chloride
  • Triclosan

Investigations of these active substance group representatives illustrate a toxic effect for humans and especially for the skin , where even the smallest amounts can lead to skin irritation (contact dermatitis) and allergies [2][3].


Why are they potentially harmful to the skin?

The use of QAV or alcohol as the main or additional active ingredient in many household cleaning agents and disinfectants causes an increase in the stress on our skin ‘s natural protective acid mantle . Frequent hand disinfection in particular (as is necessary in many professions) promotes these negative side effects and sensitive and irritated skin can form.

In order to counteract this effect, the use of moisturizing substances in hand disinfectants for professional use is increasingly being introduced. Nevertheless, there is an unnecessary strain on the skin, since the negative influence of skin-irritating active ingredients is only compensated for by care products and not prevented from the outset.

We imagine a “smart” and sustainable disinfection to be different!

Our conclusion

It should be emphasized that hand washing as a hygiene measure is usually completely sufficient to protect against infection “at home” ! [5] However, there are areas in the household as well as in professional areas where hygiene measures to reduce germs require far more than “simple” hand washing. However, this is disadvantageous even in combination with the above-mentioned disinfectants [6]. So that we recommend our textile hygiene concept to users who depend on it in order to reduce the pollution in everyday life to a minimum. The skin is our largest organ, which needs to be protected.


Find out now how you can make a difference for yourself and your environment with skin-friendly hygiene, promote environmental protection and benefit from reduced costs at the same time!


Sources and further reading:

[1] MensHealth article: “These 5 skin diseases are lurking in the gym” published on August 22, 2017 in Hamburg Resource link (accessed on July 5, 2019):

[2] Studies by Dr. Herbert Feld (Managing Director of OFG-Analytik GmbH): “Problematic spread of quaternary ammonium compounds in everyday products”; Published in “surfaces POLYSURFACES” No. 05/2016 resource link (accessed on 05.07.2019): [3] Status of scientific services of the German Bundestag: “On the question of health risks from quaternary ammonium compounds” – Published 2019 resource link (accessed on 05.07.2019): -9-081-18-pdf-data.pdf

[4] Publication of the Federal Institute for Risk Assessment: “Antimicrobial products in the household – a consideration of the effects on health and the environment as well as the benefits for the user”; Dr. Christina Pieper (Federal Institute for Risk Assessment) published in “Hygiene & Medizin 2014”

Resource link (accessed 07/05/2019):

[5] Technical article by the Hamburg Consumer Center: “Disinfectants that the world doesn’t need” – published on February 5th, 2016 in Hamburg

Resource link (accessed 07/05/2019):

[6] Specialist article by the Ärzte Zeitung: “Washing hands after disinfection is very harmful” – Dr. Christina Pieper

Resource link (accessed 07/05/2019):

Related blog entries: Skin irritation from disinfectants? State of research and recommendations of state institutions in dealing with disinfectants containing harmful substances

Impact of disinfectants on our environment

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