Type of antimicrobial that kills (or irreversibly inactivates) all bacteria, fungi, and viruses (called microbials, microbiologicals, or microorganisms), but not necessarily their spores (reproductive bodies). Examples are high concentration of oxidants such as bleach, chlorine, hydrogen peroxide; or biocides such as chlroxylenole ('Dettol'), cresol, hexachlorophane, phenol; or physical agents such as high temperature, steam, ultraviolet rays. Disinfectants also kill innocuous or helpful microorganisms, most are poisons and (unlike some antibiotics or antiseptics) may never be taken internally. They are classified according to their certified efficacy as (1) limited, (2) broad spectrum, and (3) hospital-grade. See also sanitizer and sterilant.
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