Difference Between Disinfect And Sanitize

September 22, 2023

Exploring The Difference Between Disinfect And Sanitize

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In the world of cleaning, particularly when diving into a deep clean, two words often crop up: "sanitize" and "disinfect."

You might have noticed that experts use these interchangeably. While it is a common belief that sanitizing or disinfecting helps eliminate germs, there is often a lack of clarity about the specifics. This includes the fact that - sanitizing and disinfecting are distinct processes.

Sanitizing differs from disinfecting in terms of several aspects. Understanding the crucial differences between them can significantly affect your choice of cleaning products and their application.

Join us as we embark on a journey to explore the “difference between sanitize and disinfect.” In this guide, we have unlocked the secrets to achieving viable cleaning details through sanitization and disinfection exactly when and where you need it.

Stay tuned and keep reading to promote a safe and healthier environment…

What Is Sanitizing?

Sanitizing is a crucial process that you perform to eliminate or significantly reduce the presence of harmful microorganisms. These microbes are bacteria, viruses, and fungi, from surfaces, objects, or substances.

This important cleaning regime is vital for minimizing the risk of infections and illnesses in various environments. Whether it is your home, workplace, healthcare facilities, or food preparation areas, daily sanitization is a MUST.

When you sanitize, you are actively taking steps to create a safe and hygienic environment. You are effectively targeting and eradicating the microorganisms that linger on surfaces, objects, or even in liquids. This prevents the spread of illnesses and ensures the quality of the products and spaces you interact with daily.

Sanitizing typically involves the use of specific chemicals or heat treatments, which you apply according to established guidelines. These agents work by breaking down the cell walls or metabolic processes of microorganisms, rendering them harmless. We strictly adhere to proper sanitizing procedures as well when it comes to our cleaning agendas. In this way, we can reduce the microbial load to a level safe for human contact or consumption.

In settings such as food service establishments and healthcare facilities, sanitizing is a regulatory requirement. You can protect the health of consumers and patients through well-regulated cleaning procedures. In your home, it helps create a healthy living environment for you and your family. When you sanitize surfaces like countertops, cutting boards, and bathroom fixtures, you actively safeguard against potential health risks.

What Is Disinfecting?

Disinfecting is the crucial practice of eradicating harmful microorganisms from surfaces, objects, or environments. It involves the application of various chemical agents or physical methods to reduce the pathogens causing illnesses or infections. By disinfecting, you actively take steps to create a safer environment from the presence of bacteria, viruses, and fungi.

Disinfection plays a pivotal role in maintaining hygiene and preventing the spread of diseases. It serves as a potent weapon against invisible threats lurking on commonly touched surfaces, such as doorknobs, countertops, and bathroom fixtures. By engaging in disinfection, you directly contribute to the protection of your health and the well-being of those around you.

In your efforts to disinfect, you must carefully choose the appropriate disinfectant or method for specific surfaces or items. This selection ensures maximum effectiveness in eliminating harmful pathogens. Be mindful of the contact time required for the disinfectant to work effectively. We always follow the manufacturer's instructions as it helps us achieve the desired results.

Disinfecting is not just a one-time task; it is an ongoing commitment to cleanliness and safety. Regular disinfection routines are especially important in high-traffic areas and environments. This is because; multiple individuals touch the shared surfaces now and then. By consistently disinfecting these areas, you actively reduce the risk of disease transmission.

What Is The Difference Between Sanitize And Disinfect? 

Sanitizing and disinfecting are two distinct processes that serve the common goal of reducing or eliminating harmful microorganisms, but they differ in their scope and effectiveness. We practice both for our properties and projects and hence have come up with this “difference between sanitize and disinfect.”

The major difference lies in the breadth and depth of their action.

Sanitizing primarily involves reducing the number of bacteria on a surface to a safe level (as per public health standards.) We achieve this typically by using chemicals or heat. For instance, in the food industry, utensils and surfaces carrying food require sanitization to prevent contamination.

Sanitizers are effective in killing or reducing the number of certain bacteria. However, they may not necessarily eliminate all types of pathogens, such as viruses or fungi. This is where the argument, sanitize vs. disinfect comes forward….

Disinfection, on the other hand, is a more comprehensive process that goes beyond sanitizing. It involves the use of disinfectants or antimicrobial agents, to kill or eliminate a wider range of harmful microorganisms.

Disinfection is critical in healthcare settings, where preventing the spread of infections is paramount. It is also crucial during outbreaks of contagious diseases, as it can help curb the transmission of pathogens.

Another key difference lies in the level of cleaning. Sanitizing reduces the number of bacteria to a safe level, but it may not eliminate all pathogens. Hence, it is a bit gentler than the latter. Disinfection, on the other hand, aims to kill or eliminate a broader spectrum of microorganisms.

It is a more robust approach in situations where infection control is vital. Therefore, you need stronger chemicals to disinfect.

In practical terms, you sanitize items like kitchen surfaces, cutting boards, and eating utensils. This is more applicable for homes and food establishments, to reduce the risk of foodborne illnesses. Sanitizing also extends to objects like toys in childcare settings or equipment in gyms to minimize the spread of germs.

In contrast, disinfection is crucial in medical facilities, and high-traffic public areas like schools and airports, where the risk of disease transmission is higher.

Disinfectants target a wide range of pathogens, including the highly contagious ones responsible for illnesses like COVID-19. The healthcare settings crucially follow disinfection protocols to safeguard patients and healthcare workers from infections.

When You Should Sanitize?

The timing and circumstances of sanitization dictate whether you should opt for sanitization or the more comprehensive disinfection process. We sanitize especially under the following circumstances. Look at the points below to understand “what is the difference between sanitizing and disinfecting” in a better way.

1. Food Preparation

When you are engaged in food preparation, it is essential to sanitize surfaces, utensils, and hands. This proactive step ensures the safety of the food you are handling and reduces the risk of foodborne illnesses. You should sanitize cutting boards, knives, countertops, and any equipment or containers that come into contact with raw ingredients.

Harmful bacteria can linger on these surfaces and easily transfer to your food, so it is crucial to sanitize them before and after use. Use a food-safe sanitizer or a mixture of water and bleach to clean these items thoroughly.

2. After Handling Raw Meat

After you have handled raw meat, such as poultry, beef, or seafood, sanitize your hands, utensils, and any surfaces that the meat has touched. Raw meat can contain harmful bacteria like Salmonella and E. coli. They pose a significant health risk if they mix up with other foods.

To prevent cross-contamination, wash your hands with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds. Additionally, sanitize any cutting boards, knives, or countertops that have been in contact with the meat. This proactive measure is essential to ensure the safety of your meals and reduce the chances of foodborne illnesses.

3. After Using the Bathroom in Both Home and Corporate Offices

Bathrooms, whether at home or in a corporate office, deserve a high level of cleanliness and hygiene. Regularly sanitizing the bathroom is crucial to prevent the spread of harmful germs and bacteria. Start by cleaning and disinfecting frequently touched surfaces like faucets, doorknobs, toilet handles, and light switches. Use a disinfectant that is effective against a broad spectrum of pathogens.

Additionally, sanitize the toilet bowl, sinks, countertops, and any other surfaces that come into contact with hands or bodily fluids. Pay special attention to nooks and crannies such as the underside of toilet seats and the edges of bathroom mirrors.

4. After Touching High-Touch Surfaces

Whenever you touch high-touch surfaces in public spaces, sanitize immediately afterward. High-touch surfaces include door handles, elevator buttons, handrails, and shared equipment like photocopiers or vending machines. Various individuals touch them and they become breeding grounds for germs.

To minimize the risk of infection transmission, carry a portable hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol content. Use it after touching any of these surfaces. Ensure you apply the sanitizer thoroughly, covering your hands front and back, as well as between your fingers. This simple habit can significantly reduce your chances of getting sick or spreading illnesses to others.

5. At The Start And End Of Office Shifts

Maintaining a clean and sanitized workspace is essential for employee health and productivity. In a corporate office, make it a routine to sanitize your work area at the beginning and end of your shift. Start by wiping down your desk, keyboard, mouse, phone, and any other frequently touched items with disinfectant wipes.

Pay attention to shared spaces like break rooms, and conference rooms, and communal equipment like printers and copiers. We sanitize these areas regularly to reduce the risk of cross-contamination among our colleagues.

6. The Hardwood Floors Everyday

Daily sanitization of hardwood floors is essential to maintain a clean and hygienic living space. Hardwood floors are prone to collecting dust, dirt, and allergens. These can potentially harm your indoor air quality and overall health. To keep your hardwood floors in optimal condition, sweep or vacuum them daily to remove loose debris.

Afterward, mop the floors using suitable hardwood floor cleaner and warm water. This removes remaining dirt AND disinfects the surfaces, ensuring a germ-free environment.

Additionally, we promptly clean the spills to prevent them from staining or damaging the wood. Consistent sanitization helps create a safe and inviting atmosphere in your home.

What Should You Sanitize? 

While talking about disinfection vs. sanitization, we found this particular discussion super important. Not everything you should sanitize since it only lowers the percentage of germs. There are specific items for sanitization, which are different from the latter.

We have brought a comprehensive list of such items or areas. We follow this list for our cleaning purposes. Check this out:

1. Personal Items

To maintain good hygiene, it is important to sanitize your items regularly. Items such as smartphones, keys, wallets, and eyeglasses encounter various surfaces continuously. They can harbor germs.

Use disinfectant wipes or sprays containing at least 70% alcohol to clean these items. High-touch areas, like the touchscreen of your phone or the handles of your keys, deserve special attention.

2. Kitchen And Dining Areas

In your kitchen and dining areas, thorough sanitization is crucial to prevent foodborne illnesses and maintain a safe environment. You can follow a kitchen deep cleaning checklist to save time and expenses, exactly like we do. Clean countertops, cutting boards, and utensils with hot, soapy water after each use.

Additionally, sanitize these surfaces regularly using a food-safe sanitizer to eliminate harmful bacteria like Salmonella and E. coli. Do not forget to sanitize frequently touched items like refrigerator handles, faucets, and cabinet knobs to minimize cross-contamination.

3. Bathroom Fixtures

Maintaining a clean and sanitary bathroom is essential for personal health. Regularly sanitize bathroom fixtures like faucets, doorknobs, toilet handles, and light switches. These high-touch surfaces can accumulate germs and bacteria over time.

Use a bathroom-specific sanitizer or a mixture of bleach and water to effectively kill harmful pathogens and maintain a hygienic space. Consistent sanitization reduces the risk of infections and ensures a healthy environment for you and your family.

4. High-Touch Surfaces

Regularly sanitize surfaces frequently touched by multiple individuals. These include doorknobs, light switches, handrails, and countertops. By sanitizing these surfaces, you minimize the risk of transferring germs and viruses from one person to another, helping to maintain a healthier environment.

5. Childcare And Play Areas

Keep childcare and play areas clean and hygienic to keep your children safe and healthy. This involves wiping down toys, play mats, and high chairs with specific solutions. Children often put objects in their mouths, making it crucial to prevent the spread of harmful bacteria. Consistent cleaning routines with an alcohol-based sanitizer can help protect the health of the little ones.

6. Office Work Desk

Maintain a clean and germ-free workspace by regularly sanitizing your office work desk. Focus on areas like your keyboard, mouse, phone, and desk surface. A clean desk promotes personal health and enhances productivity by reducing distractions caused by clutter and potential health concerns.

7. Electronics

Electronics need special care for their longevity but you can still sanitize those regularly maintaining safety measures. Start by unplugging the devices to ensure safety. Use a microfiber cloth dampened with a 70% isopropyl alcohol solution to wipe down keyboards, touchscreens, and remote controls.

Be gentle to avoid damaging delicate components. This practice helps remove germs and dirt that accumulate on frequently touched surfaces. This keeps your electronics clean and safe to use.

8. Floorboards

Ensure the cleanliness of your floorboards by sanitizing them routinely. Begin by sweeping or vacuuming to remove loose debris. Then, use a cleaner suitable for your flooring type, such as a hardwood floor cleaner or a tile and grout cleaner.

Apply it as directed, making sure to cover the entire area. Scrub stubborn stains gently, and rinse thoroughly to eliminate residues. Clean floorboards not only enhance the appearance of your space but also maintain a healthy environment.

9. Countertops And Tables

To maintain a clean and hygienic living space feasibly, you should regularly sanitize countertops and tables. These surfaces are prime areas for accumulating germs, dirt, and food residue. Using a suitable cleaning solution or a mixture of soap and water, scrub the surfaces thoroughly.

Pay special attention to high-touch areas like kitchen counters, dining tables, and coffee tables. This practice helps eliminate bacteria and viruses, providing a safe environment for your family and guests.

10. Furniture

Your furniture also requires sanitization to prevent the buildup of dust, allergens, and potential contaminants. Dust and dirt can settle on sofas, chairs, and other furniture, leading to an unhealthy indoor environment. Utilize appropriate cleaning methods, such as vacuuming or using upholstery cleaners, to sanitize your furniture regularly.

This enhances the appearance of your living space and removes dust mites and allergenic particles that can affect your well-being.

What Is A Sanitizer?

A sanitizer is a crucial household or commercial cleaning and maintenance product. It lowers harmful bacteria and viruses from various surfaces, and objects, effectively. Its primary purpose is to reduce the number of germs to a level that is safe for human contact or use. Sanitizers are instrumental in maintaining cleanliness and hygiene in everyday life.

Sanitizers typically come in various forms, such as liquid sprays, gels, wipes, or even powders. They contain active ingredients that kill or inhibit the growth of microorganisms. Common active ingredients in sanitizers include alcohol, hydrogen peroxide, quaternary ammonium compounds, and chlorine compounds.

These substances work by breaking down the cell walls or disrupting the metabolic processes of microorganisms, rendering them harmless.

One of the key advantages of sanitizers is their convenience for you. You can easily apply them to surfaces or your hands, ensuring quick and efficient disinfection. In healthcare settings, for example, sanitizers help to maintain a sterile environment, reducing the risk of transmitting infections. In your daily life, you use them to sanitize your hands, kitchen countertops, and bathroom surfaces.

Moreover, you need them to clean frequently touched objects such as doorknobs and light switches.
Hand sanitizers especially, have gained significant prominence, especially during public health crises like the COVID-19 pandemic. They offer you a convenient means to disinfect your hands when soap and water are not readily available. Properly using sanitizer for your hand hygiene can help prevent the spread of contagious diseases.

While sanitizers are effective against a wide range of germs, they may not be equally effective against all types of microorganisms. Some resilient viruses or bacterial spores may require more specialized disinfection methods. Additionally, you must follow proper usage instructions, including contact time and concentration, to ensure the sanitizer's effectiveness.

When To Disinfect?

The difference between sanitizing and disinfecting also lies in the situations when you should do these cleaning activities. Timing is everything when it comes to disinfection. Knowing when to disinfect is crucial for maintaining a clean and safe environment. Be it a public place, or residential place, our list of when to disinfect will help you stays on top of your cleaning game.

1. After Illness

After you or a family member has been ill, it is imperative to disinfect your living spaces. This includes frequently touched surfaces like doorknobs, light switches, countertops, and bathroom fixtures.

Disinfection helps eliminate lingering pathogens that may cause illness or contribute to its spread. By actively disinfecting these surfaces, you can significantly reduce the chances of reinfection.

2. Post A Disease Outbreak

In the aftermath of a disease outbreak, it is crucial for you to actively disinfect your environment. Disinfect the high-traffic areas, public spaces, and frequently touched surfaces in your home or workplace regularly.

This proactive measure helps contain the spread of the disease, ensuring that any remaining pathogens are dead. Consistent disinfection contributes to the overall safety of the community and minimizes the risk of a resurgence of the outbreak.

3. Public and Commercial Restrooms Everyday

When using public and commercial restrooms, you need to disinfect surfaces daily. Numerous individuals use these facilities every day increasing the risk of contamination.

You can actively contribute to hygiene and safety by disinfecting toilet seats, flush handles, sink faucets, and door handles every day. This practice protects you and benefits the broader community by reducing the transmission of germs and viruses.

4. Every day At School/College

Disinfecting schools/colleges every day helps prevent the spread of contagious illnesses among students and staff. Cleaning the commonly touched surfaces such as desks, chairs, door handles, and shared equipment reduces the risk of transmitting germs.

It also instills a sense of safety and well-being among students and faculty, promoting a conducive learning environment. Daily disinfection at educational institutions ensures everyone can focus on their studies without worrying about the risk of infections.

5. Every day At the Hospital/Clinic

Disinfecting surfaces and equipment at the hospital prevent cross-contamination among patients and healthcare workers. It ensures that the healthcare environment remains as sterile as possible, minimizing the risk of hospital-acquired infections.

Regular disinfection also demonstrates your commitment to patient safety and contributes to maintaining a trustworthy healthcare facility.

You can get in touch with professionals or follow our comprehensive guide on hospital cleaning for proper expert guidance & tips.

What Should You Disinfect?

In the discussion of “Difference between Disinfect and Sanitize,” what you can disinfect is an important aspect. Disinfection involves killing every microorganism on a surface using the strongest chemicals out there. This advanced level of cleaning procedure is particularly applicable to several areas. We have jotted them down below from our cleaning routine:

1. Medical Supplies

When dealing with medical supplies, you must disinfect them regularly. It includes items, like surgical instruments, medical devices, and patient care equipment. Disinfection in medical settings helps prevent the spread of infectious diseases and ensures the safety of both healthcare professionals and patients.

This is indispensable to keep the environment in healthcare facilities sterile and promote better patient outcomes.

2. Office Spaces

In office spaces, regular disinfection is vital for maintaining a healthy and productive work environment. Shared workstations, desks, keyboards, and other commonly touched surfaces can harbor germs and viruses.

This helps keep your workforce healthy and ensures uninterrupted business operations. Disinfecting office spaces is a proactive measure that demonstrates your commitment to fostering a clean and welcoming workspace.

3. Gym and Sports Equipment

For gym and sports facilities, disinfection is necessary to ensure the safety of users. Exercise equipment, weights, mats, rubber gym floors, and apparatus come under contact with multiple individuals. This makes them potential breeding grounds for bacteria and viruses.

Regular disinfection of these surfaces helps prevent the transmission of skin infections and respiratory diseases, within the fitness community. It also instills confidence in gym-goers, assuring them that their health is a top priority. Proper disinfection practices in fitness centers promote a hygienic environment where people can achieve their fitness goals safely. To maintain hygiene and cleanliness, you can explore our gym cleaning checklist and ensure a healthier environment.

4. Restroom Surface and Equipment

In the interest of maintaining a clean and hygienic environment, it is imperative to disinfect restroom surfaces and equipment routinely. You should disinfect frequent-touch areas like faucets, toilet handles, and door handles in the restroom. A proper disinfection routine ensures that restroom users are safe from potential health hazards.

Cleaning and disinfecting restrooms also contribute to a positive and healthy experience for all occupants. This is because; it reduces the risk of cross-contamination and infection transmission. So, remember to disinfect restroom surfaces and equipment regularly to promote cleanliness. For thorough and stress free cleaning, you can follow this restroom cleaning checklist written by our experts.

5. Common Areas

In shared spaces, such as offices, schools, or residential complexes, disinfection is crucial to prevent the transmission of germs and viruses. Common areas like lobbies, hallways, and break rooms are high-traffic zones where multiple individuals get in touch with various surfaces.

Disinfecting these areas on a routine basis helps create a safe and healthy environment for everyone. By doing so, you actively contribute to reducing the risk of infectious diseases spreading among occupants. Therefore, make it a priority to disinfect common areas to promote a clean and safe atmosphere that minimizes health concerns.

6. HVAC and Air Vents

To maintain optimal indoor air quality and ensure the circulation of clean, fresh air, it is vital to disinfect HVAC systems and air vents regularly. These systems can accumulate dust, allergens, and potentially harmful microorganisms over time.

This action enhances comfort and helps safeguard the respiratory health of everyone who breathes the air in the environment. Remember to disinfect HVAC systems and air vents periodically to ensure the air you breathe is clean and healthy.

7. Handrails

Handrails, whether on staircases, escalators, or walkways, are prime breeding grounds for germs due to frequent contact with numerous hands. To maintain a safe environment, it is mandatory to disinfect handrails regularly.

Use a disinfectant solution suitable for the handrail material and follow a consistent cleaning schedule, especially in high-traffic areas. Your diligent effort in disinfecting handrails contributes to the overall health of everyone relying on these supports in public spaces.

What Is A Disinfectant?

A disinfectant, distinct from a sanitizer, is a powerful chemical agent with a formula to eliminate or reduce the presence of harmful microorganisms. Bacteria, viruses, fungi, and some types of parasites sit on surfaces, objects, and various environmental settings.

This indispensable cleaning product plays a crucial role in maintaining hygiene and preventing the spread of infectious diseases. At home, in commercial places, or at the workplace, a disinfectant ensures a safer living and working environment.

When you use a disinfectant, your primary objective is not merely to reduce the number of germs but to kill or inactivate them effectively. Disinfectants come with specially formulated active ingredients. Active chemicals like chlorine, hydrogen peroxide, quaternary ammonium compounds, or phenolic compounds eradicate a broad spectrum of pathogens.

Disinfectants come in various forms, including liquid solutions, sprays, wipes, or powders. You can choose the most suitable format for your specific cleaning needs. Apply disinfectants to a wide range of surfaces, such as countertops, floors, medical equipment, and high-touch areas in public spaces. It will mitigate the risk of contamination and illness transmission.

It is critical to understand that disinfectants are unsuitable for human skin or personal hygiene. Unlike sanitizers that reduce germs on the skin's surface, disinfectants are inanimate objects and environmental surfaces. Their chemical composition makes them unsuitable and potentially harmful for direct contact with the skin, mucous membranes, or internal use.

To use a disinfectant effectively, follow the manufacturer's instructions carefully. It includes adhering to recommended contact times, dilution ratios (if applicable), and safety precautions.

Best Practices For Effective Disinfection And Sanitization 

The difference between sanitizing and disinfecting is quite significant. However, both of them are not just about wiping surfaces with a random cleaner and calling it a day. Some best practices make a world of difference in ensuring your environment is truly germ-free. We follow these practices efficiently to maintain a pristine space.

Below, we have jotted down the best disinfection and sanitization practices we consider:

1. Select the Right Products

When it comes to effective disinfection and sanitization, your first step is selecting the appropriate cleaning agents. Ensure you pick specialized products for the surfaces you intend to clean. Different surfaces may require different disinfectants, so it is crucial to make informed choices.

2. Read and Follow Label Instructions

To maximize the effectiveness of your cleaning efforts, always read and adhere to the instructions provided on the product labels. These instructions provide essential information on proper dilution, contact time, and safety precautions. Ignoring them can result in inadequate disinfection or potential hazards.

3. Thorough Pre-Cleaning

Before applying disinfectants, invest time in thorough pre-cleaning. Remove visible dirt, debris, and organic matter from surfaces. Pre-cleaning enhances the disinfection process and prevents the formation of biofilms that can protect pathogens.

4. Wear Safety Precautions

Prioritize your safety and the safety of others during the disinfection process. Wear appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE), such as gloves and goggles shield yourself from chemicals. Proper ventilation is also essential to minimize exposure to fumes. Safety should always be a top concern.

5. Proper Dilution

When disinfecting and sanitizing, it is crucial to dilute cleaning agents according to manufacturer guidelines accurately. Failure to do so can render the solution ineffective or even harmful. Always measure and mix chemicals carefully to maintain their potency and maximize their germ-killing potential.

6. Pay Attention To High-Touch Surfaces

Pay special attention to high-touch surfaces such as doorknobs, light switches, countertops, and shared electronics. These areas harbor more germs and require frequent sanitizing and disinfection to prevent the spread of illnesses.

7. Specified Contact Time

Follow the recommended contact time specified on the disinfectant label. You must allow the disinfectant to remain wet on the surface for the prescribed duration. It will effectively eliminate pathogens. Rushing this step can lead to incomplete disinfection.

8. Safe Storage And Handling

Store the cleaning and disinfection products safely, away from children and pets, and in their original containers. Avoid mixing different chemicals, as this can produce dangerous reactions. Always wear appropriate PPE when handling chemicals to safeguard your health and well-being.

How To Choose The Right Disinfectant Or Sanitization Product? 

Sanitization and Disinfectant are not just “typical” cleaning processes. Both of them involve using specified equipment, products, and procedures. Knowing how to choose the right product is critical to do the job perfectly.

Here is a 5-step procedure that we follow while choosing the right disinfectant or sanitization product:

Step 1: Identify Your Cleaning Needs

Start by identifying the specific cleaning needs for the surfaces or areas you plan to clean. Consider factors such as:

  • Type of surface (e.g., hard, porous, delicate),
  • The level of contamination (e.g., dirt, bacteria, viruses)
  • And any special requirements (e.g., food-safe, child-friendly).Clearly defining your cleaning goals will guide your product selection.

Step 2: Read Product Labels and Ingredients:

  • When evaluating cleaning products, carefully read the labels and examine the list of ingredients. Look for products that explicitly mention their effectiveness against the types of contaminants you want to target.
  • Check for active ingredients like hydrogen peroxide, quaternary ammonium compounds, or alcohol, which disinfectants commonly contain. Ensure the product is suitable for the surface you intend to clean.

Step 3: Consider Safety and Compatibility:

  • Assess the safety aspects of the cleaning product. Check for warning labels, precautions, and instructions for use. Ensure that the product is safe for both the user and the environment. Additionally, consider compatibility with the surfaces you plan to clean.
  • Some chemicals may damage or discolor certain materials. Therefore, it is crucial to choose a product that will not harm the surfaces you are treating.

Step 4: Verify Effectiveness and Certification

  • Look for products that have been tested and certified by reputable organizations or agencies. Products that agencies like the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) register have undergone rigorous testing to prove their efficacy.
  • Verify that the product meets the specific standards and regulations applicable to your region. This step helps ensure you are using a product that can effectively kill germs and pathogens.

Step 5: Evaluate Ease of Use and Cost Considerations

  • Finally, consider practical factors such as ease of use and cost-effectiveness. Some cleaning products may require specific equipment, dwell times, or dilution ratios. In addition, the cost of certain deep-cleaning disinfectants and sanitizers is higher than typical solutions.
  • Assess whether the product fits into your cleaning routine and budget. Furthermore, evaluate the product's shelf life to avoid waste or the need for frequent replacements.

Regulatory Guidelines And Standards For Sanitizing And Disinfection

Sanitizing and Disinfection in the USA involves a bunch of standards, codes, and regulatory guidelines. We systematically consider whether our procedures and products are in line with these standards. These guidelines and standards provide a consistent framework for manufacturers, users, and regulators.

They establish uniform criteria for product testing, labeling, and usage, which helps maintain quality control throughout the industry. Consider these 6 major guidelines and standards to achieve high-level of Sanitizing and Disinfection outcomes:

EPA Registration for Disinfectants and Sanitizers

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) oversees the registration of disinfectants and sanitizers in the United States. Before a product can claim to kill specific pathogens, it must go through rigorous testing to demonstrate its efficacy and safety. The EPA assigns a unique registration number to approved products. We use these registered disinfectants according to label instructions.

Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) Regulations

OSHA sets workplace safety standards, including those related to the use of chemicals and disinfectants. Employers must provide training on the safe handling, storage, and disposal of sanitizing and disinfection products. OSHA also requires employers to provide appropriate PPE to employees who use these chemicals.

FDA Regulations for Food-Contact Surface Sanitizers

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulates sanitizers used on food-contact surfaces. These products must meet specific criteria for safety and effectiveness. Manufacturers of food-contact surface sanitizers need to provide documentation supporting the product's compliance with FDA regulations.

CDC Guidelines for Healthcare Settings

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) offers detailed guidelines for sanitizing and disinfecting healthcare facilities. These guidelines cover the selection of appropriate disinfectants, cleaning procedures, and the frequency of cleaning to prevent healthcare-associated infections.

ASTM International Standards

ASTM International develops and publishes standards related to the testing and performance of sanitizing and disinfection products. These standards, such as ASTM E1054 are useful to evaluate disinfectant efficacy. They provide a common framework for manufacturers and regulators to assess product performance.

State and Local Regulations

Apart from federal regulations, state and local health departments often have their guidelines for various facilities and public spaces. These regulations vary from one province to another. Hence, we stay aware of and adhere to local requirements as per the location of our projects.

Importance Of Cleaning And Sanitizing 

Cleaning, sanitizing, and disinfecting are three fundamental practices that hold immense significance in various aspects of our lives. These essential processes go beyond mere tidiness. They are integral to ensuring health, safety, and overall well-being. Whether in our homes, workplaces, or public spaces, you cannot overstate the importance of cleaning and sanitizing.

Below, we have laid out why doing these is important from our own experiences 

1. Disease Prevention

Cleaning and sanitizing prevent the spread of diseases. When you clean and sanitize surfaces regularly, you remove harmful pathogens like bacteria, viruses, and fungi that can cause illnesses. Proper cleaning eliminates the breeding grounds for these microorganisms, reducing the risk of infections.

For instance, in healthcare settings, thorough cleaning and sanitizing of equipment and surfaces prevent the transmission of diseases. Likewise, maintaining cleanliness in your home and personal spaces helps every day protect you and your family from contagious illnesses.

By actively engaging in cleaning and sanitizing practices, you contribute to a healthier environment and significantly reduce illnesses.

2. Food Safety

Cleaning and sanitizing play a pivotal role in ensuring the safety of the food you prepare and consume. The transfer of harmful bacteria such as Salmonella and E. coli to your food is a major food safety concern. In your kitchen, proper cleaning of utensils, cutting boards, and countertops prevents cross-contamination.

Sanitize surfaces that come in touch with raw meat, poultry, or seafood. These items can carry pathogens that cause foodborne illnesses. Additionally, repetitive cleaning and sanitizing of food storage areas, like refrigerators and pantries, help maintain the freshness and quality of your ingredients. When you make food safety a priority through these practices, you safeguard your health and that of your loved ones.

3. Allergen Control

Removing visible dirt is not the sole aim of cleaning and sanitizing; they also address allergen control. Allergens such as dust mites, pet dander, and pollen can accumulate on surfaces, carpets, and upholstery. Regular cleaning with appropriate methods helps reduce allergen buildup, providing relief to individuals with allergies or asthma.

Vacuuming, dusting, and washing bedding and curtains are actions that can significantly minimize allergens in your living spaces. Moreover, cleaning and sanitizing air filtration systems, like HVAC units and air purifiers, contribute to better indoor air quality. A clean and allergen-free environment makes a more comfortable and healthier living space for yourself and those around you.

4. Improved Indoor Air Quality

To maintain a healthier living or working environment, prioritize cleaning and sanitizing. Dusting, vacuuming, and wiping down surfaces help remove pollutants from your indoor spaces. This, in turn, enhances the quality of the air you breathe.

When you neglect cleaning, dust and allergens accumulate over time, leading to poor indoor air quality that can trigger respiratory issues and allergies. You ensure that the air you and others inhale is fresh and clean, promoting better overall well-being.

5. Pest Prevention

You can prevent pest infestation at your home or workplace through thorough cleaning and sanitizing practices. When you leave crumbs, spills, or food residues, you attract pests like ants, roaches, and rodents. Maintaining cleanliness deprives these unwanted intruders of food sources, making your space less appealing to them.

Moreover, regularly sanitizing areas where bacteria and pathogens thrive can deter pests that love these microorganisms. Such proactive measures ensure a more comfortable and hygienic living or working environment.

6. Surface Longevity

Preserving the durability and longevity of surfaces, furnishings, and equipment helps you avoid costly replacements. Regular cleaning and sanitizing safeguard these investments. Unattended dust, grime, and stains can gradually deteriorate surfaces and degrade materials. This leads to premature wear and tear.

Sanitizing surfaces also eliminates harmful microbes that can cause corrosion or damage. Active cleaning routines help you extend the life of your belongings and infrastructure. Ultimately, you get to save your money on replacements or repairs.
The difference between cleaning sanitizing and disinfecting is massive. Proper adherence to the necessary standards for each assures that your assets remain in excellent condition.

7. Enhanced Aesthetics

Having a spotless space plays a pivotal role in enhancing aesthetics and building maintenance. When you consistently clean and sanitize your surroundings, you create a visually appealing, and welcoming space. Cleanliness contributes to a fresh and organized appearance pleasing to the eye.

Stains, dirt, and clutter degrade the overall appeal of any area, whether it is a home, workplace, or public space. Frequent cleaning and sanitizing remove unsightly blemishes and prevent the buildup of grime, mold, and odors. Your environment remains attractive and inviting, leaving a positive impression on everyone who enters.

8. Compliance and Regulations

Adhering to compliance and regulatory standards is imperative in various settings, from food service establishments to healthcare facilities. Neglecting proper cleaning and sanitizing practices can lead to violations and legal consequences. Health and safety regulations require strict adherence to cleanliness standards to protect the well-being of employees, customers, or patients.

Failure to comply with these regulations can result in fines, closures, or legal liabilities. When you consistently adhere to industry-specific standards, you showcase your dedication to both, legal compliance and public health protection.

9. Peace of Mind

A clean and disinfected environment gives peace of mind. Knowing that your surroundings are free from harmful contaminants and pathogens reduces anxiety and promotes a sense of security. In homes, it means a healthier living space for your family, minimizing the risk of illnesses.

In businesses, it assures employees and customers that their well-being is a top priority, fostering trust and loyalty. Furthermore, peace of mind extends to the prevention of potential hazards resulting from negligence in cleaning and sanitizing. Take necessary proactive measures to keep your environment clean and safe. You can enjoy a greater sense of calm and confidence in your daily activities.

Disinfect And Sanitize With Sterling Cleaning!

Sanitization typically eliminates up to 99.9% of germs on a surface. However, disinfection goes a step further by effectively eradicating nearly all pathogens present. The use of incorrect products and procedures may enhance the risks of outgrowing the pathogens. Nevertheless, with this blog, we hope your confusion regarding the difference between sanitizing and disinfecting is clear, now.

With Sterling Cleaning, you have a trusted partner to help you navigate these processes effectively. Do you need to kill harmful pathogens or simply reduce bacteria to safe levels? Whatever your priority is our expertise and products are at your service.

Together, we will ensure your spaces are spotless, safe, and healthy for all. Choose Sterling Cleaning for a cleaner, safer tomorrow!

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Is Bleach A Sanitizer Or Disinfectant? 

Bleach is primarily a disinfectant rather than a sanitizer. It effectively kills a broad spectrum of bacteria, viruses, and fungi when used in the right concentration. Sanitizers typically reduce the number of bacteria on surfaces but may not necessarily eliminate all pathogens. Always follow proper dilution instructions for safe and effective disinfection.

2. What About Sterilizing? 

Bleach is not a sterilizing agent. Sterilization involves the destruction of all microorganisms, including bacterial spores. Oppositely, bleach is effective against many pathogens but may not eliminate all spores. Sterilization typically requires specialized equipment or methods, such as autoclaving or chemical sterilants.

3. Which Is Better Sanitization Or Disinfection? 

Disinfection is typically more effective than sanitization. Sanitization reduces the number of bacteria to a safe level. Disinfection goes further by killing a wider range of pathogens, including viruses and fungi.

The choice depends on the context. Disinfection is best when dealing with higher infection risk or contamination concerns.

4. Does Alcohol Disinfect Or Sanitize? 

Alcohol primarily disinfects rather than sanitizes. It effectively kills a broad spectrum of bacteria, viruses, and fungi when used in the right concentration. Sanitizers reduce the number of bacteria on surfaces but may not necessarily eliminate all pathogens. Alcohol-based hand sanitizers, for instance, disinfect by killing germs on hands.

5. Should You Sanitize & Disinfect?

Yes, you should both sanitize and disinfect surfaces. Cleaning removes dirt and debris, while disinfection eliminates or inactivates harmful microorganisms. This two-step process helps ensure a hygienic and safe environment, particularly in areas prone to contamination or during disease outbreaks.

6. Does Dish Soap Disinfect?

Dish soap is not a disinfectant. It effectively removes grease, food particles, and some bacteria from dishes. However, it does not possess the properties required to kill a wide range of pathogens or viruses. For disinfection, it is necessary to use appropriate disinfectants or sanitizers as recommended.

7. Describe the Difference Between Disinfect And Sanitize

Both of them aim to reduce or eliminate harmful microorganisms. However, the primary difference between sanitizing and disinfecting them is their effectiveness and scope. Disinfection typically kills a broader spectrum of pathogens, while sanitization reduces the number of bacteria to a safe level. Disinfection requires more potent agents and longer contact times than sanitization.

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Please reach us at any time to set up an appointment to review your commercial cleaning requirements. Sterling will provide an on-site review of your janitorial needs, then create a custom proposal that fits both your specifications and budget


303 5th Avenue, New York, NY 10016


Phone: 212-803-3328

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