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Disinfect vs Sanitize: What's the Difference Between the Two?

What Is The Difference Between Disinfecting And Sanitizing?

When people are talking about cleaning, the words “sanitation” and “disinfection” are often interchanged. Do you know that both are different? Understanding the difference between the terms disinfect vs. sanitize will help you identify the appropriate cleaning products to buy.

Disinfect vs. Sanitize

Generally, cleaning refers to the removal of any impurities on a surface. Disinfecting and sanitizing is part of the overall process of cleaning. However, it goes beyond the simple removal of debris or dirt by eliminating the microscopic organisms that can cause illness. Sanitizing means reducing the number of germs on a surface to a safe level. Sanitizing is a little gentler than the disinfection procedure, and the process lessens the amount of the actual disinfection taking place. On the other hand, disinfecting is the killing of nearly 100 percent of the germs on surfaces or objects. The process uses chemicals to totally eliminate germs. When disinfecting, the dirt on the surfaces is not necessarily gone. But the germs in that dirt are entirely destroyed to lower the risk of infection.

When Must You Sanitize?

The surfaces that are best to sanitize are those that do not come in contact with possible hazardous bacteria. Some examples are cooking ware and children’s toys. According to the EPA, it is recommended to choose sanitizing agents and solutions that are certified to reduce bacteria content. A bleach and water solution can already be a sanitizer depending on the concentration level. The lower the concentration of the solution, the more likely it can be considered as a sanitizer.

When Must You Disinfect?

Disinfection is not a usual cleaning procedure. It entails careful process as well as the preparation of liquid solutions. The places that you must consider disinfecting are those that have a high likelihood of contact with dangerous bacteria. Some examples are toilets, sink, faucets, and doorknobs. However, the overuse of disinfectant solutions can be harmful to your health. According to the EPA standards, a disinfectant solution must be able to eliminate 99.999% of germs and all bacteria and viruses that can cause illness.

Factors to Consider When Disinfecting or Sanitizing

As we discuss the differences between disinfecting vs. sanitizing, consider these important points during your cleaning procedures.
  • Sanitizer and disinfectant solutions are under the regulation of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). When you buy a solution, check if there is a proof of seal that the product is tested and meets the standards. By law, any products without the seal of the EPA, must not be classified as either disinfectant or sanitizer.
  • Any sanitizing or disinfecting solution must determine the specific germs it can cater to. Therefore, no single sanitizer or disinfectant can kill all types of microorganisms. But still, it is essential to remember that sanitizers are certified for bacteria, while disinfectants can be certified to eliminate viruses, mold, mildew, and fungi.
When buying a solution, you must determine the time it will take for the chemical to kill the germs. This information must be written in the product’s label. It is essential to account for the “dwell time” for you to know if it serves your purpose as well as your budget.
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