8.2.6 Iodine and Iodophors

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.