Sanitizing vs disinfecting vs sterilizing

As with terms like cement and concrete—“sanitize,” “disinfect,” and “sterilize” are often used interchangeably despite describing three different types of antimicrobials. According to the EPA, antimicrobials are products that “destroy or suppress the growth of harmful microorganisms such as bacteria, viruses, or fungi on inanimate objects and surfaces.”

Sanitizing describes the act of reducing bacteria on a surface. It is common to have sanitizers used in kitchens and food preparation areas. Sanitizers are the weakest type of public health antimicrobial.

Disinfectants are much stronger and will kill and prevent the growth of bacteria and fungi. Some, but not all, types of disinfectants can kill viruses like HIV, respiratory syncytial virus, and coronavirus varieties. Read product labels closely to understand what to use them for and best application practices. Disinfectants are the most commonly used antimicrobial in the medical industry or where preventing bacteria and virus growth is important in keeping facilities open and operating in a healthy fashion. They should not be used on surfaces that come in contact with food.

The strongest of the antimicrobials is categorized as a sterilizer. In addition to killing live fungi and bacteria, they can also reduce the spores that create new microbes. Training and certification are usually required to handle and use these products.

Some products are a hybrid of sanitizer and disinfectant. These are useful when you not only need to disinfect an area, but also need to clean away material and residue that provide breeding grounds for new bacteria and viruses.

It also is generally a good idea to have products that are non-film forming unless there is a specific reason film would provide a benefit. The film left behind with some products may actually produce an environment that more easily captures organic material and may facilitate and encourage microbial survival. If a product claims to be viricidal, make sure it has current registry by the EPA.

Our future of cleaning

How the COVID-19 situation continues to evolve will be based on the decisions we make in responding to the demands in protecting public health. With both time and resources limited, it is even more important to make the right decision the first time around.

Many of us have had to reshape our businesses in a matter of just a few days as we confront one of the greatest challenges many generations will ever encounter. We will make advances, and we will make mistakes.

One would be heartbroken to realize that the products they are using have been ineffective during a time in which supply shortages and no second chances are part of the battlefield.

In the end, we need to consider products that are proactive in nature but don’t have harmful byproducts. These byproducts might be residues our skin now absorbs, VOCs that we now inhale, or even harmful radiation to our eyes and skin from improperly used UV lights. So, is there a product that does this? Yes! Needlepoint Bipolar Ionization. With the delivery of bipolar ions in the air, they proactively breakdown and attack infectious pathogens, VOCs, SVOCs in the air and on surfaces. An additional benefit to this technology is odor reduction, and ultra-fine particulate matter reduction. For more information and lab proven data, give us a call. We are here to support you!

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