The synergy between anions and cations is understood for their enhanced antimicrobial activity. Up to thousandfold enhancement of antibacterial and antiviral activity in drinking water by this technique. Enhancement makes disinfection of water affordable, compact and adaptable to multiple purification systems. A decrease in consumption of inorganic ions reduces health risks caused by disinfection by-products (DBPs). Thus DBPs and bioaccumulation related issues can be handled efficiently. This understanding of synergy helps to speed up the disinfection process. © Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020.