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What is Germicide?

Malcolm Tatum
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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A germicide is any type of product that is designed to kill germs and bacteria on different types of surfaces. Many household cleaning products are formulated to function as germicides. In addition, there are some personal care products that are designed to help kill germs as part of the process of cleaning the skin. Just about any home or business will have at least a few of these products on hand at any given time.

Over the years, a number of uses of germicide products have come into common use. Some involve the utilization of basic germicidal and antibacterial products as a way of minimizing the chances of spreading colds or other forms of illness. For example, it is not uncommon for bleach to be used as part of the process of washing clothing, as well as being used to disinfect countertops and other surfaces where food is prepared. Chlorine bleach is sometimes used in daycare centers and kindergartens as a way of disinfecting toys that are handled by several children, thus helping to minimize the spread of germs from one child to another.

Other cleaning agents are also effective sterilizers and disinfectants. Household ammonia is often used to clean tile and porcelain in bathrooms, helping to keep the areas relatively germ-free and smelling fresh. Ammonia is also helpful in removing germs from glass, such as windowpanes.

Along with cleaning products, there are other forms of germicide used for medical treatments. The use of radiation to kill germs and abnormal cells is one example. Medications that are designed to kill infections and limit the spread of bacteria can also be classified under the broad category of germicides. Even the use of heat to sterilize various types of medical instruments qualifies as an example of antibacterial or anti-germicidal cleansing.

In all its forms, the purpose of germicide is to rid the area of bacteria and germs that have the potential to cause harm to humans and other living things. While very helpful in maintaining a healthy environment, it is important to note that mixing various types of germicidal cleaners can create toxic fumes and other issues that will in fact be detrimental to general health and well being. For this reason, it is important to use germicidal products with care, and only after reading the usage instructions and safety precautions provided by the manufacturer. In the event that two forms of germicide that do not mix well are inadvertently used at the same time, medical attention should be sought immediately.

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Malcolm Tatum
By Malcolm Tatum , Writer
Malcolm Tatum, a former teleconferencing industry professional, followed his passion for trivia, research, and writing to become a full-time freelance writer. He has contributed articles to a variety of print and online publications, including TheHealthBoard, and his work has also been featured in poetry collections, devotional anthologies, and newspapers. When not writing, Malcolm enjoys collecting vinyl records, following minor league baseball, and cycling.

Discussion Comments

By seag47 — On Sep 04, 2011

My hands get very dry in the wintertime, and germicide products tend to have ingredients that dry them out even more. So, I was elated when I found a germicide lotion.

This lotion does the same thing that antibacterial gel does, but it moisturizes the skin, rather than stripping it of its oils. I keep some with me and use it when I can’t get to a sink to wash my hands, but I also apply it every morning to help guard against germs all day. I reapply it every time I wash my hands, both to moisturize them and to kill bacteria.

By cloudel — On Sep 04, 2011

I keep a bottle of germicide hand sanitizer in my car and a small one in my purse. They come in handy in lots of situations where I can’t wash my hands with soap and water.

I travel a lot, and I have to use public rest areas on the side of the highway. Lots of these restrooms either don’t have soap dispensers or have empty ones. The only way to protect myself from germs is to use the hand sanitizer.

Also, most of my friends have pets that live inside. They don’t think about washing their hands before eating, because they feel like their pets are clean. I don’t share this view, so when I go over to their houses and pet their animals, I discreetly use some hand sanitizer before I eat.

By kylee07drg — On Sep 04, 2011

@Oceana - You might benefit from germicide wipes. Since you are always having to clean up messes, using a wipe would be easier than going to get the spray and using a rag or paper towel every time.

I use the wipes in my kitchen a lot. I clean the stove with them, and I feel confident that any raw meat juices I wipe up with the pre-soaked germicide cloths will be totally absorbed, and the wipes will disinfect the area.

I sometimes let my dogs in the house, and wipes are handy to clean up any puddles of drool or muddy paw prints they might leave behind. I keep one box in the kitchen and one in the living room, and the wipes save me so much time that I would spend cleaning if I didn’t have them.

By Oceana — On Sep 03, 2011

I am a total germaphobe, and I use some type of germicide every day. I have been this way for awhile, but I got worse after I got married.

My husband is my opposite. He can leave crumbs, dirty dishes, and even food lying around for days and not notice. I am constantly cleaning up what he leaves behind, and this usually involves the use of germicide spray.

He leaves streaks of condiments, spills of drinks, and spots of grease on the countertops and tables. I feel like I am constantly spraying these surfaces with germicide and wiping them down. It makes me very tired, but I have to feel protected from germs. Areas streaked with sauces or other bits of food could easily grow bacteria if left alone.

Malcolm Tatum

Malcolm Tatum


Malcolm Tatum, a former teleconferencing industry professional, followed his passion for trivia, research, and writing...
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