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What’s the difference between Sanitizing and Disinfecting?Updated 2 months ago

We understand it can get tricky trying to tell the difference between cleaning products nowadays! Disinfecting products are classified as pesticides, and must be registered with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) any time a product wants to say they “kill” germs, viruses, and bacteria. 

The word “Sanitizing” means that it simply reduces the number of germs on objects and surfaces. Sanitizers should be used on objects that come in contact with mouths (toys, instant feeding supplies, countertops). Disinfectants, on the other hand, should be used when someone is sick or at higher risk of getting sick due to a weakened immune system. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has a helpful breakdown here:

Cleaning

Sanitizing

Disinfecting

 Cleaning physically removes most germs, dirt, and impurities from objects and surfaces. 

Sanitizing reduces the number of germs on objects and surfaces to levels considered safe. 

Disinfecting kills remaining germs on surfaces. Killing germs can further lower the risk of spreading disease. 

Use soap or detergents with water to scrub, wash, and rinse. 


Cleaning should be performed regularly and always comes before sanitizing or disinfecting objects and surfaces. 

Use weaker bleach solutions or sanitizing sprays. 


Objects or surfaces should be cleaned first before sanitizing.


Sanitize objects and surfaces that come in contact with mouths (such as, toys, infant feeding supplies, countertops, and other surfaces that touch food). 

Use an EPA-registered disinfecting product or a stronger bleach solution.


Objects or surfaces should be cleaned first before disinfecting. 


Disinfect surfaces when someone is sick or if someone is at higher risk of getting sick due to a weakened immune system. 

(Source: CDC)

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