Sanitize & Decontaminate – What Do They Really Mean?

Sanitizing and decontaminating, or disinfecting, are methods used in cleaning to reduce or eliminate germs to prevent the spread of illnesses. Sanitizing and disinfecting are not the same. Most people sanitize when they clean.  Sanitizing cleans and reduces the number of germs or viruses that are on a surface.  Decontaminating, or disinfecting, requires much stronger chemicals and kills all germs or viruses.  Disinfecting removes almost 100 percent of all germs and viruses. If your cleaning solution does not remove 100 percent of germs, then you are sanitizing.

There are a variety of products and chemicals that people can use when cleaning their homes and office space. Be mindful of what you are using and do not mix chemicals or products together. Mixing them together will not make them work better and you could suffer respiratory problems from breathing in their fumes.  Be sure to be in a well-ventilated room when using disinfectants. Read all labels before using a product so that you use it correctly. Some products need to be diluted with water and if you don’t read the labels, you might accidentally combine the wrong amounts of product to water making the product too strong or not effective at all.  It is also a good idea to use disposable gloves when using these harsher chemicals to prevent any skin irritations. 

Bleach is one of the most common chemicals used in cleaning products that also sanitize. Many people will make their own variation of bleach cleaner, mixing bleach with water into their own containers so that they can make it stronger or weaker to fit their needs. The most popular disinfectants are alcohol and hydrogen peroxide. Chlorine and chlorine compounds can also be used as disinfectants. Alcohol that is diluted below a 70 percent concentration will not be as effective in killing bacteria. The recommended concentration is 70–90 percent alcohol solution in water. Chlorine disinfectants can kill a wide range of bacteria spores and is easy to find and inexpensive to use. Hydrogen peroxide concentrations that are between 6-25 percent can sterilize and disinfect. Hydrogen peroxide can kill bacteria, yeast, fungi, and viruses effectively. 

There are a variety of different ways to sanitize and disinfect your home or office. Sanitizing is the least evasive and simply reduces the amount of bacteria on a surface and can stop new growth from forming.  Disinfecting requires stronger chemicals and kills all bacteria on a surface. Be sure to read all labels before using a new product and make sure you are in a well-ventilated area before using. Do not mix chemicals together and wear protective gloves to prevent a sensitivity or chemical reaction on your skin. Fight germs and stay healthy year-round with a sanitized and disinfected home and work space.

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