Sanitise vs Disinfect What’s the difference?

When discussing cleaning in the home or workplace, the words ‘sanitise’ and ‘disinfect’ are often used interchangeably. 

However, there are distinct differences between the two terms.  

Understanding the difference between sanitising and disinfecting can help you choose and correctly use your cleaning products and maintain a clean and safe environment. 

What is sanitising?

Sanitising refers to lowering the number of germs to a safe level by killing bacteria on surfaces using chemicals. It is essential to know that sanitising is not intended to kill viruses. 

When to sanitise: Sanitising should be performed on surfaces that don’t typically harbour hazardous bacteria or those that shouldn’t encounter harsh chemicals, such as cooking utensils and food prep areas. 

What is disinfecting? 

Disinfecting kills viruses and bacteria on surfaces using chemicals and is one of the most reliable ways to stop the spread of infection and germs. 

Common disinfectants include bleach and alcohol solutions which need to be left on the surfaces and objects for a certain period to kill the germs. 

When to disinfect: Disinfecting is for surfaces involving bodily fluids, such as toilets and sinks. 

What’s the difference? 

✓ Sanitising aims to kill bacteria on surfaces but not viruses. 

✓ Sanitisers are typically used on food contact surfaces because they contain fewer harsh chemicals than disinfectants. 

✓ Disinfecting kills or inactivates both bacteria and viruses on surfaces. 

✓ Disinfectants are less likely to be used on food contact surfaces as they rarely contain food-safe chemicals.  

It’s important to remember that cleaning (the process of removing visible dirt from hard surfaces using a mix of water and detergent) should always be performed prior to sanitising or disinfecting because it maximises the effectiveness of each process. 

Speak to us 

If you want to revise the cleaning process for your food manufacturing site to achieve better hygiene and reduce contamination risks, we’re here to help you. 

To discuss your requirements in more detail, please contact us or call our team on 0345 218 6126.   

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