How to choose the right disinfection product?

When choosing a disinfectant for your farm, you want pathogens killed, but not end up with corrosion of equipment or safety issues for workers. Not all products can live up to this promise. The different efficacies stem from different mode of actions.  

There are many disinfections on the market, based on different modes of action. Roughly we can divide the disinfections in oxidative and non-oxidative products. The word ‘oxidative’ means that pathogens are inactivated through oxidation of their proteins and cells (the cell structure). With a broken cell structure, the pathogen can no longer do harm. Non-oxidative disinfectants have a different way to disable pathogens. This means that pathogens are not always completely killed but rather reduced to an acceptable level.

Examples of common oxidative products are:

  • Halamid®
  • Peroxides
  • Peroxygen-persulfate types
  • Peroxide-peracetic acid
  • Chlorine-based disinfectants

Examples of common non-oxidative products are:

  • Quats (quaternary ammonium compounds)
  • Aldehydes (e.g. formalin)
  • Phenolics
  • Acid anionics
  • Biguanides

Total performance is a mix of characteristics

The division of oxidative and non-oxidative solutions doesn’t mean that the products within one group act the same, as there are still differences in the mode of action, and hence performance. While the level of performance is mostly measured by the level of pathogen destruction, stability, and the number of different pathogens it can destroy, the level of corrosivity and efficacy under soiled conditions are also important performance indicators to consider. We should not underestimate the damage (corrosion) than can occur to metal surfaces when using some disinfectant and the level of soil, dust, and manure (‘soiling’) on farms that can hinder the performance of a disinfectant used. In addition, odour, biodegradability, and the risk to develop resistance should also be considered when choosing the right product.

Some disadvantages from non-oxidative products include:

  • Quats are affected by organic soil and that they tend to cling to surfaces (may lead to tainting). They also have a low biodegradability, poor efficacy against Gram bacteria and (naked) viruses, and there is change that pathogens develop resistance.
  • Aldehydes are known to be toxic and carniogen and have a pungent odour. Also products in the phenolics group have a strong odour – and in addition – have shown poor/moderate efficacy versus (naked) viruses and some bacteria and poor degradibility.
  • Acid anionics have antimicrobial activity against Gram-negative and Gram-positive bacteria, but they are less effective against bacterial spores and viruses.

Also in the oxidative group, differences regarding these performance indicators are seen, even when they share the same mechanism of oxidation. How well a product performs in the end is therefore a mix of characteristics.

Corrosion and soiling

Halamid® is an oxidative disinfectant and has been specifically developed to be powerful and mild at the same time. Its mode of action is based on an irreversible destruction of the envelope and cell material of microorganisms. This oxidizing action ensures that microorganisms are effectively killed and do not have a chance to develop resistance.

Halamid® eradicates all major pathogens in one application round, while being safe for animals, humans, and the environment. It has been registered and approved worldwide.
Besides its efficacy for eradication of several pathogens, trials have shown that Halamid® has a range of advantages over other oxidative and non-oxidative products, including:

  • No corrosion: Compared to a permonosulfate based product, Halamid® showed no corrosion for 6 metals tested, showed by weight loss measurements and visual images. Corrosion was seen in 4 out of 6 metals in the permonosulfate based product group.
  • Active in present of dirt: Compared to hypochlorite and peroxides / peroxygen formulations Halamid® showed to be less affected by soil. Being more chemically stable, Halamid® migrates further through a layer of soil, still active and able to destroy pathogens, without changing the dosage.


Different disinfectants have different benefits and drawbacks in different situations of usage. This makes it complicated to choose and get the most money for the bug, as not all specifications on paper may be fulfilled under practical conditions. Farmers who are using older buildings, or those who have concerns about thorough dirt removal prior to disinfection, should bear in mind that that these relative ‘dirty conditions’ affect the performance of a disinfectant. Halamid® is a broad-spectrum solution that saves time and ensures that pathogens are killed effectively, in all conditions in a safe way