How to Use Povidone Iodine (Betadine) as an Antiseptic

Povidone Iodine for sale

Antiseptics like povidone iodine have been used since ancient times to prevent infection and sterilize tools.

There is actually some controversy in the scientific community as to whether or not antiseptics work when used directly on skin wounds[1], but tradition, intuition, and the World Health Organization agree they are probably a good idea[3].

The reasoning against using antiseptics for wound care is that they will kill not only bacteria but cells as well. Since povidone iodine is only mildly cytotoxic[2], it can be used or disused for wound treatment based on personal preference.

Despite their arguable effectiveness in treating wounds, antiseptics are undeniably effective at cleaning tools and bandages used in wound care.

Besides being an antiseptic for wound care, povidone iodine can safely be used to purify water[4].

Povidone Iodine comes as a liquid or a wipe. For a compact first aid kit a few wipes or a small leak-proof bottle are the best options. A 50mL (1.5oz) alcohol shooter bottle is the perfect size and won't leak; just make sure to relabel it first. To use the wipes for water purification just place the wipe in the water.

Povidone Iodine for Water Purification:

There is a lot of misinformation surrounding povidone iodine for water purification, but according to the National Institute of Health (NIH) 10% povidone iodine can be mixed with water at a recommended ratio of .35 - .7 milliliters (7 - 14 drops) of iodine solution per liter of water.

The amount depends on the temperature and cloudiness of the water with cold, cloudy water needing more iodine[4]. Don’t use iodine for water purification if you have a thyroid condition or are pregnant.

Iodine is not recommended for use as a water purifier for longer than several months because long-term risks have not been thoroughly researched. The NIH did note, however, that there were remarkably few reports of thyroid disorders despite iodine use, but cases of goiters have been linked to long-term iodine use for water purification[4].

How to Use Povidone Iodine:

  1. Antiseptic: Clean the wound with water as best you can. Use iodine-soaked gauze to gently rub the iodine into and around the cut. Smear some B&W ointment over the wound and wrap it in a clean bandage. More information on how to properly clean a wound can be found here.
  2. Water Purifier: Mix the correct amount of iodine in the unpurified water. Wait 15 min, and then wait an extra minute just to be sure.


  1. After waiting for the iodine to disinfect the water, add a vitamin C tablet to remove any iodine taste.
  2. Povidone iodine kills more bacteria in warmer water or if given more time to work.
  3. One 2x1 inch iodine wipe contains about 10 drops of povidone iodine.
  4. Remember that any bottle of liquid over 3 ounces will be confiscated if you carry it on an airplane.


  • Still unknown if antiseptics should be used directly on wounds
  • Listed as an essential antiseptic by the World Health Organization (WHO)
  • Purifies water for drinking
  • Do not use if pregnant or have a thyroid condition


  1. Khan, Muhammad N., and Abul H. Naqvi. "Antiseptics, iodine, povidone iodine and traumatic wound cleansing." Journal of tissue viability 16.4 (2006): 6-10.
  2. Niedner, R. "Cytotoxicity and sensitization of povidone-lodine and other frequently used anti-infective agents." Dermatology 195.Suppl. 2 (1997): 89-92.
  3. "19th WHO Model List of Essential Medicines (April 2015)" (PDF). WHO. April 2015. Retrieved September 27, 2016.
  4. Backer H, Hollowell J. "Use of iodine for water disinfection: iodine toxicity and maximum recommended dose." Environmental Health Perspectives. 2000;108(8):679-684.

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Question: Povidone Iodine Shelf-Life

How long do povidone iodine prep pads last? These are kept at home under good storage conditions. I really can't see what would break down fast. IIRC, the shelf-life dates on things like this are usually a year from manufacture but that's usually an arbitrary date.

Povidone iodine is a very stable solution that is more resistant to degradation than other forms of iodine like iodine tincture. They've tested the stability of povidone iodine for as long as 1 year, and at room temperature they did not find any changes, i.e. it was still just fine. They also tested it at very hot temperatures (42 degrees C) for a month, and it still had 95% of the active ingredient. The one thing you do have to watch out for is not letting it get wet or absorb moisture from the air. It should be kept in a stoppered bottle. [1]

This info was all for multi-use containers, and your question was about prep pads. Prep pads are still in the original container, sealed in aluminum. They will last almost indefinitely even at higher temperatures. If you're worried about them at all, just change them out every couple years. They're pretty inexpensive. Hope this helps!


Povidone Iodine as a paw soak

Is povidone Iodine effective and treating and/or preventing fungal and yeast on a dog's paws if it's diluted in water and used as a paw soak (several minutes). If so what would be the recommended and most effective water to Iodine ratio.

Thank you,

Povidone Iodine as a Paw Soak

Povidone Iodine has been shown to be an effective anti-fungal treatment [1]. Typically, povidone iodine is 10% iodine, but dilutions down to at least 3.125% have been shown to have anti-fungal effects [2]. It is possible that it could be used at an even more dilute solution, but I didn't find a hard lower limit. Based on a study I read about topical treatment of fungal and bacterial biofilms, you could dilute 10% solution at a 1:1 ratio with good results [2].


Iodine As An Antiseptic

Heck yes. I practically lived in the outdoors for a long time, and iodine was my preferred go-to for any cut. Iodine is a bacteriacide AND a viruside (kills both bacteria and virus') both externally AND internally. Its probably the most valuable first-aid. Lugols is great. I have taken 4-5 drops per day for years, and have not sprouted horns. Actually, the old study claiming that iodine was dangerous to ingest is a flawed study. Look it up.

Hi, can betadine 10% solution

Hi, can betadine 10% solution be used as a sinus spray? Should it be diluted first? If so, can it be diluted with water, and to what ratio?

Betadine nasal wash

What ratio water to betadine is safe to spray in the nose and or to use in a neti pot and to gargle with? Thank you!