The words sanitize and disinfect are often used interchangeably. But in actuality, there’s a significant difference between the two terms. Knowing the difference between sanitizing and disinfecting can help you to know exactly what cleaning products to buy, and how to use them in order to keep your home a clean and safe environment.
The virus that causes COVID-19 can land on surfaces. It’s possible for people to become infected if they touch those surfaces and then touch their nose, mouth, or eyes. In most situations, the risk of infection from touching a surface is low. The most reliable way to prevent infection from surfaces is to regularly wash hands with soap and water or use alcohol-based hand sanitizer. Cleaning and disinfecting surfaces can also reduce the risk of infection.
Where are germs found?
Germs are a part of everyday life. Some of them are helpful, but others are harmful and cause disease. They can be found everywhere – in our air, soil, and water. They are on our skin and in our bodies. Germs are also on the surfaces and objects that we touch.
Which surfaces and objects do I need to clean and disinfect?
To prevent the spread of infection, you should regularly clean and disinfect surfaces and objects that are touched often. For example, in your house, this would include countertops, doorknobs, faucet and toilet handles, light switches, remotes, and toys.
Cleaning with products containing soap or detergent reduces germs on surfaces by removing contaminants and decreasing the risk of infection from surfaces.
When to clean and when to disinfect?
You may want to either clean more frequently or choose to disinfect in addition to cleaning in shared spaces if the space:
- Is a high-traffic area, with a large number of people
- Is poorly ventilated
- Does not provide access to handwashing or hand sanitizer
- Is occupied by people at increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19
If a sick person or someone who tested positive for COVID-19 has been in your facility within the last 24 hours, you should clean AND disinfect the space.
Sanitizers and disinfectants are 2 types of antimicrobial pesticides. Antimicrobial products kill or slow the spread of microorganisms. Microorganisms include bacteria, viruses, protozoans, and fungi such as mold and mildew.
|Action||What does it do?|
|Cleaning||Cleaning removes dirt and organic matter from surfaces using soap or detergents.|
|Sanitizing||Sanitizing kills bacteria on surfaces using chemicals. It is not intended to kill viruses.|
|Disinfecting||Disinfecting kills viruses and bacteria on surfaces using chemicals.|
|Using hand sanitizer||Using hand sanitizer kills pathogens on the skin.|
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