Aldehydes and Formaldehydes can be volatile at room temperature, leading to the odor commonly associated with preservation of tissue or tissue samples such as in laboratories, hospitals, and mortuaries.

As a class of antimicrobials, formaldehydes are known as reactive antimicrobials, in that their predominant mechanism for controlling microorganisms is to react with peptides and proteins in the microorganism.

As this reaction progresses, an organism’s biochemical processes become increasingly impaired and the organism dies.

This mechanism makes aldehyde types of chemistries very potent for all types of microorganisms such as bacteria, fungi, algae and viruses. It also makes this type of chemistry problematic for use around human tissue.

Very selective and stringent guidelines must be followed to manage the appropriate use of aldehyde chemistries.

Given the utility of these types of chemistry, manufacturers of aldehyde based antimicrobials have undertaken strategies to produce larger compounds, that when in the presence of water will break apart (hydrolyze) and release monomers of formaldehyde or aldehyde containing groups.

These molecules can then provide the antimicrobial actions needed but avoiding some of the health, safety and stability issues with formulating the formaldehyde molecule.

How are Aldehydes used?

Aldehyde Uses

Due to their tremendous versatility and broad spectrum efficacy, aldehydes are used in antibacterial, antifungal, antiviral, sporicide, antialgal, and protozoacide applications.

Aldehydes are even used against macro-organisms such as mollusks and other invasive species; aldehyde chemistries are one of the most broadly used in industry.

These chemistries are used as medically registered high level disinfectants, used in animal bio-security for maintenance, to control viral outbreaks, and as preservatives for cosmetics and personal care products.

Reference Articles:

Emerging Infectious Diseases
2001 Mar-Apr; 7(2):348-53.
New disinfection and sterilization methods.
Rutala WA, Weber DJ.

Antimicrobial activity, uses and mechanism of action of glutaraldehyde.
1980 Apr;48(2):161-90.
Gorman SP, Scott EM, Russell AD.
J Appl Bacteriol.

For more information on Aldehydes and Preservation, contact our product test laboratory at 847-483-9950 or

Situ Biosciences  LLC

Better Finding  

Situ Biosciences has redesigned our web search engine to better accomodate users unfamiliar with the types of test methods available.

 Try it out and let us know how it can be improved.


Feel free to contact our laboratory at (847) 483-9950  OR