Sanitizing and disinfecting are terms that are often used interchangeably. However, there’s actually a significant difference that, while probably not impactful for the average person on the average day, is incredibly important when it comes to running certain businesses or performing certain tasks. When you’re going to your favorite restaurant or stopping by the doctor’s office, it’s good to understand what each process means and when it’s needed. Plus, when running your own business or taking care of things in your own home, it’s important to be informed about sanitization versus disinfection, so you know which to employ and what products and methods are needed to do so effectively.

The process of sanitation is meant to lower the number of germs to a safe level, whereas disinfection is meant to eliminate germs entirely. To put it simply, sanitizing is a more casual and faster process than disinfection, and it’s also less thorough. That isn’t to say it’s worse, as instances where sanitation is needed would be overkill to disinfect. For most people most of the time, sanitation is a reliable and appropriate response to a wide variety of needs. Sanitizing is quick, efficient, and will keep most objects and surfaces safe to interact with on a regular basis.

While the intention of sanitation is to kill most germs when applied for a time period of 30 seconds, disinfection is meant to kill all germs, and can take up to 10 minutes. In terms of applicability, your favorite restaurant sanitizes glasses before serving them to new customers, and if a child drops their pacifier on the ground, sanitation would be the correct answer as well. By contrast, disinfection is used for things such as hospital tools, and should be done anywhere exposed to bodily fluids, such as toilets or diaper stations. Disinfection is more intense and thorough than sanitation, and keeps essential tools and surfaces in high-risk environments safe for use.

When it comes to your business, the need for each can depend on the tools you use and the function your company performs. For an office environment, most surfaces need a thorough sanitation, but certainly not a disinfection, although the bathroom will have different needs. For a medical facility or lab, it’s important to feel confident that your cleaning crew is thoroughly disinfecting tools and workspaces, and knows the proper protocols and procedures to do it accurately.

The difference between the two can seem subtle, and in casual conversation may not have the greatest of impact. However when it comes to application, particularly in a business setting where consumers and employees trust you and your company to keep them safe – it’s important to know which process to use at what time, and when each is required by law or makes practical sense. Fortunately, by hiring a team of seasoned cleaning professionals with decades of experience, you can feel completely confident that your business is operating at its absolute best and serving its customers with their health and safety in mind.

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