Iodine and iodophors are effective against lipid-containing viruses, bacteria and fungi but exhibit variable activity against mycobacteria, non-enveloped viruses and bacterial spores. Iodine can stain fabrics and environmental surfaces, is neutralized by organic matter and is generally unsuitable for use as a disinfectant. However, iodophors and tinctures of iodine are good antiseptics. Several advantages of iodophors include:
- a wide spectrum of anti-microbial and antiviral activity
- a built-in indicator; if the solution is brown or yellow, it is still active
- use as a preoperative skin antiseptic and surgical scrub
Note: Iodine can be toxic and antiseptics based on iodine are generally unsuitable for use on medical/dental devices. Iodine should not be used on aluminium or copper.