Cleaning pruning tools - is alcohol as effective as bleach?

Asked December 28, 2012, 8:54 PM EST

When cleaning pruning tools to prevent the spread of disease in small fruits, is 70% Isoprophyl Alcohol as effective as a bleach solution? If the latter is used, how much bleach should be added to one cup of water? Can you suggest a site where this topic is treated?

Cuyahoga County Ohio disinfect pruning tools

1 Response

You can use either bleach or alcohol with the following dilution rates for 1 cup total:
Household bleach: 1/4 cup. bleach + 3/4 cup water
Rubbing alcohol(70% isoproplyl): 1/2 cup alcohol + 1/2 cup water

Here's a chart with recommendations from the University of Florida, IFAS***
"Available Disinfecting Products*

Household bleach (ex: Clorox): 25% solution (1 part bleach + 3 parts water)
Pine oil cleaner (ex. Pine-Sol): 25% solution (1 part cleaner + 3 parts water)
Rubbing alcohol (70% isopropyl): 50% solution (1 part alcohol + 1 part water)
Denatured ethanol (95%): 50% solution (1 part alcohol + 1 part water)
Trisodium phosphate (Na3PO4): 10% solution (1 part Na3PO4 + 9 parts water)
Quaternary ammonium salts: use as directed on product label
Household Disinfectants (Lysol, etc): full strength
* The use of trade names is solely for the purpose of providing specific information. It is not a guarantee of warranty of the products names and does not signify they are approved to the exclusion of others of suitable comparison"

***Check out the information in this fact sheet for specifics about how to disinfect tools in the field as well as general guidelines to follow when disinfecting pruning tools in general to prevent the spread of disease from the University of Florida,
"Disinfecting Pruning Tools," at:

Remember to always follow label directions when handling any of these chemicals.

I hope this information is helpful.
Happy New Year!