Cleaning vs. Disinfection vs Sterilization.


picture of two spray bottles with a label saying they kill one hundred percent of bacteria

There is a lot of talk these days about cleaning, disinfecting, and even sterilizing. But what exactly does that mean?


This short article will clear up any confusion about what these terms mean.



Cleaning

Cleaning is a broad term that refers to the process of removing germs, dirt, and other impurities from a variety of surfaces. While it does not eliminate germs, it does significantly reduce their numbers and the risk of infection spreading by removing them from their natural habitat.


Disinfection

Disinfecting is the process of using chemicals to kill germs on surfaces (for example, disinfectants approved by the Environmental Protection Agency). This process does not necessarily clean dirty surfaces or remove germs; however, as previously stated, killing germs on a surface after cleaning can reduce the risk of infection spreading even further.


Sterilization

Sterilization is defined as the process of completely destroying or eliminating all forms of microbial life from a given environment. Sterilization of surfaces and equipment is accomplished through the use of physical or chemical methods and is mostly found in health care facilities.


Summary

Cleaning is a broad term that refers to the process of removing germs, dirt, and other impurities from a variety of surfaces. Disinfection involves using chemicals to kill germs on surfaces (for example, disinfectants approved by the Environmental Protection Agency). Sterilization aims at destroying germs completely.




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