Clean – clean – clean! That’s a chant we’ve all heard a lot about lately and I’d like to share a message I received a few days ago and it actually taught me something I didn’t know. I love articles like this!
Let’s pay attention to the differences and let’s make sure we’re using these chemicals correctly in order to offer optimum benefit. In the paraphrased words of COVID-Dori, let’s “just keep cleaning!”
The difference between sanitizing and disinfecting. One kills more germs than the other
- The main difference between sanitizers and disinfectants is that sanitizers reduce the number of germs on a surface whereas disinfectants kill most of them.
- Sanitizers usually work faster than disinfectants, which can take up to 10 minutes to kill germs.
- The name hand “sanitizer” is a misnomer since its main germ-fighting ingredient is alcohol, which is a disinfectant.
The words sanitizing and disinfecting are often used interchangeably but there are important differences between them. And it’s fair to say this is the time to understand what’s actually in your cleaning cupboard.
The main difference comes down to this: “While sanitizing reduces the amount of bacteria, viruses, and other microbes on a surface, disinfectants kill almost all of them,” says Alexander Aiken, MB, of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.
“That’s because disinfectants include chemicals like hydrogen peroxide that decontaminate a surface or object by producing destructive free radicals that attack cell components,” says Stephanie Dancer, consultant microbiologist and Professor of Microbiology at Edinburgh Napier University, Scotland.
Sanitizers on the other hand, like chlorine and QUAT (quaternary ammonium compounds) based sanitizers, simply reduce the number of germs on a surface. This may not kill them, but it can still help prevent the spread of illness. Because for each disease, there’s a certain number of germs — called the dose of exposure — you need to contract in order to become sick. So by lowering the total number of germs on a surface or object, sanitizers help reduce the risk of infection.
“Sanitizers and disinfectants also differ in how long they take to work, known as dwell time. Sanitizers can work almost immediately whereas the chemicals in disinfectants take up to 10 minutes to kill germs,” Aiken says. That’s why it’s important to follow the directions on the product label for effective use.