What is the Difference Between Sanitizers and Disinfectants

What is the Difference Between Sanitizers and Disinfectants

What is the Difference Between Sanitizers and Disinfectants

Cleaning products have surely become a part of our daily lives since the COVID-19 pandemic began, but with so many changing news and sources of information, you may be wondering what the difference between some of them is.

Covid-19 is caused by the coronavirus, which may survive for several days on some surfaces.

As for the length of its life span, there are quite different opinion. Nevertheless, the virus can surely stay around long enough in order to make frequent disinfection a part of our everyday lives. Disinfectants like Lysol and Clorox wipes would usually clean most surfaces of contagions, but the vast majority of these products have been out of stock.

We have made a brief overview about the sanitizing and disinfecting products that might be useful for you in a time when self-hygiene is of primal importance.

The words “sanitizing” and “disinfecting” are often used as equivalents but there are significant differences between them.

The main difference can be summarized in this: While sanitizing decreases the amount of microbes, viruses, and other germs on a surface, disinfectants kill just about all of them. The reason is in the chemicals that disinfectants have, such as hydrogen peroxide that cleanse a surface or object by creating a destructive free radicals that attack cell components.

On the other hand, sanitizers typically include chlorine and QUAT (quaternary ammonium compounds) and are used only to reduce the number of germs on a surface. This may not remove them all, but it can still help stop the spread of infection. For each contamination there’s a certain number of germs which are called the dose of exposure. One needs to be in contact with that dose of exposure in order to become sick. Hence, by lowering the total number of microbes on a surface or object, sanitizers help reduce the risk of infection.

Sanitizers and disinfectants also differ in the time is takes them to work, which is known as “dwell time”. Sanitizers can work almost instantly, while the chemicals in disinfectants take up to 10 minutes to kill microbes.

What is the Difference Between Sanitizers and DisinfectantsSafer active ingredients

Safe ingredients to look for are:

  • Hydrogen peroxide
  • Ethyl alcohol (ethanol)
  • Citric acid
  • L-lactic acid
  • Caprylic acid (octanoic acid)
  • Thymol

Ingredients to avoid

It is important to read the labels and to be careful to avoid some ingredients when buying disinfection products. Some things to be avoided are:

  • Sodium hypochlorite: linked to harm of the skin and respiratory system and the environment. When mixed with other cleaners or acids, can be fatally poisonous.
  • Quaternary ammonium compounds: known as quats, which are linked to asthma and are suspected of causing reproductive poisonousness and birth defects in humans. They also have a negative effect on the environment
  • Hydrogen peroxide and vinegar mixed together: the combination forms caustic peracetic acid.

Bleach-based Disinfectants: Clorox Multi-Surface Cleaner + Bleach eliminates the coronavirus in one minute on hard surfaces such as you find in kitchens and bathrooms, sinks, faucets and toilets. However, any bleach-based spray like this is for use only on hard surfaces. It will harm fabrics, feel harsh on the skin and create fumes that can irritate mucous membranes. It is recommended to take precautions like ventilating the room and wearing gloves when using it.