Quaternary Ammonium Compounds
Quats are ammonium salts. Each quat molecule has a central “core” characterized by a positively-charged nitrogen atom (N+) that is attached to other chemically-active groups that include carbon. Many different quat-based compounds are created by modifications of this basic molecule. The quats are used as sanitizers and disinfectants. (Note: Quats have NO ODOR. Ammonium is not ammonia.)
Alkyl Dimethyl Benzyl Ammonium Chlorides (ADBAC)
There are 21 different alkyl dimethyl benzyl ammonium chlorides (ADBAC), these are used in different formulations as part of sanitizing and disinfectant products for hard, non-porous surfaces.
Diakyl Dimethyl Ammonium Chloride (DDAC)
There are five DDAC compounds that are structurally similar, with two alkyl groups and two methyl groups. DDAC-based products are used as hard surface disinfectants in healthcare facilities and other locations.
How Quats Work
A quat’s positive charge helps it adhere to bacteria, virus, and other disease-causing microorganisms (all of which have a negative charge). This disrupts the germ’s cell walls and leads to its destruction. Quats need to be in contact with the surface being disinfected or sanitized for a specific period of time to completely destroy all of the microorganisms that are present on the surface. Time varies by product and method of application, so always check product labels for proper use instructions.