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Sanitize, Disinfect, Sterilize… Making Sense of the New Jargon


As people adapt their lifestyle to pandemic times, words related to cleaning seem to proliferate. Suddenly, people are spending more money on different products with bigger claims that they often don’t fully understand.tellus sit amet massa auctor imperdiet id vitae diam.

Cleaning vs. sanitizing vs. disinfecting

Cleaning is the most basic term in this new jargon and refers to removing visible dirt, dust, grease and other impurities from a surface or object. Deep cleaning takes it a step further, removing the deeper dirt and grime.

In contrast, at the other end of the spectrum, sanitizing, disinfecting, and sterilizing focuses on eliminating harmful bacteria. Their popular use is a sign of our times. But these words also mean different things.

According to the CDC, sanitizing refers to lowering the number of germs on a surface to a safe level, either through cleaning (which physically removes germs from surfaces) or disinfecting (which kills germs including bacteria and viruses). Sanitizing is generally seen as more gentle than disinfecting, lowering the number of germs to a safe level by either cleaning or disinfecting without using harmful chemicals. That is the reason why sanitization is particularly suitable for children’s toys for example. Overuse of disinfectants can also lead to harmful health consequences to those with vulnerable skin or respiratory conditions, while harming the environment.


Sterilization is considered the extreme form of decontamination, mostly used in specialized environments such as laboratories or hospitals. According to the CDC, sterilization is the process of destroying or eliminating all forms of microbial life. For the average person, it is therefore not something that is recommended to be done around the house.

Sterilization methods include, among others, steam under pressure, dry heat, hydrogen peroxide gas plasma, and liquid chemicals.

Hydrocholoric acid

Hypochlorous acid is unique compared to most conventional chemical sanitizers and disinfectants as it is non-toxic and non-hazardous. It has proven to be non-irritant to eyes, skin, and the respiratory tract and even if ingested by accident, it causes no harm. Because of these benefits, hypochlorous acids is being used in restaurants, food & beverage processing, livestock, agriculture, hospitals, schools, cruise ships, water treatment, and other health related industries.

Hypochlorous acid can also be considered a disinfectant against bacteria and viruses. Since 1986, there have been hundreds of publications confirming the superiority of hypochlorous acid over bleach. A primary reason for that is because it holds a neutral charge and therefore can penetrate the negatively charged cell walls of bacteria.  Hypochlorous acid has also been researched and proven to be effective against many viruses. Low concentrations of hypochlorous acid have been shown to have antibacterial effects and an antiviral effect against influenza virus for example.

So, for extra safety, next time your house or surrounding environment is clean, make sure it is also disinfected. Removing dirt is important, but during these times it might not be sufficient. Disinfecting using of specific products which remove bacteria and other germs which are harmful to your health is a recommended second step — particularly if done in a non-toxic and non-harmful manner, using non-alkaline disinfectants that reduce the impact on the user and the environment.

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