The History of Disinfecting: Part I

The History of Disinfecting: Part I

The History of Disinfecting: Part I

These days, we can draw on advanced science and technology in our quest to disinfect our homes and businesses. But disinfecting services and products were not always as effective. 

Thousands of years ago, if the ancient Egyptians had a mess to clean up, they would use vinegar or wine as their cleaning product of choice. 

Apparently, other ancient cultures like the Greeks must have thought seeing was not only believing but also effective. “For instance,”  Caitlin Stowe MPH, CPH, CIC writes in her account of the history and evolution of surface disinfectants for PDI Healthcare, “in The Odyssey, Homer wrote that the protagonist, after defeating his rival, demanded that Sulphur be burned in the house to detoxify and purify the space[1].  Mercury was also used for cleaning, and as a protectant for surfaces in many different cultures and eras[2].”

Talk about the cure being worse than the disease! What’s a little dirt compared to the toxic threat of mercury?

Advances in Disinfection

“So little was known back then about bacteria and other microorganisms, it was thought that if you could see the chemical working (through smoke, or a coating on a surface), then it was killing the causative agent of the disease,” Stowe says.  

A major breakthrough in the history of disinfection came in the late 17th century, when Antonie Van Leuwenhook first identified the presence of microorganisms in 1675. The following year, Stowe tells us, he discovered that vinegar was effective in killing at least some of these microorganisms, proving that the ancient Egyptians had, indeed, been onto something

“Scientists started realizing that these previously unseen organisms could be capable of causing disease, and in turn, chemicals could potentially kill these organisms without a visible reaction to the eye,” Stowe says. “This discovery opened the door for unlimited research in the study of the use of chemicals to kill microorganism(s) on a variety of surfaces and settings.”

Today, science continues to strengthen our position in the battle against germs, bacteria, viruses and other microorganisms like mold. 

But science also makes us even more aware of the need for air purification services, home disinfecting and mold remediation. 

And with the pandemic making the need to understand the for disinfecting services, we are offering a free evaluation to home owners and businesses looking for a disinfecting company they can trust.

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