Sanitizing And Disinfecting: What’s The Difference?

Whether you believe it or not, there are germs on every surface. Confusion often creeps into the picture when thinking about how to remove these germs. Should we be disinfecting, or should we be sanitizing? There are often cleaning products that are these two types of chemical formulas which end up confusing people even more.

So then, what is the difference between sanitizing and disinfecting?

The Difference Between Sanitizing and Disinfecting


Sanitizing removes germs from surfaces down to a safe level, by at least 99.9%, and is often regulated by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). This type of chemical product undergoes a process to test its effectiveness at killing certain germs. Chemical companies need to make sure that the products they’re selling are labeled correctly and been have verified by the EPA. Households commonly stored food contact sanitizers before coronavirus. Now, the virus has brought public attention to the process of maintaining clean surfaces.


Disinfecting is the use of strong chemicals to kill bacteria and germs on surfaces. These powerful chemicals are capable of removing a greater range of microorganisms than sanitizers. Chemical companies that make disinfectants also need to obtain an EPA certification for their product. While disinfectants may kill a wider range of germs, the manufacturers will still be required to list which bacteria the chemical formula is able to remove.

Disinfectant wipes are a convenient solution to use in your daily cleaning routine and can kill harmful bacteria. Although bleach can be used to kill dangerous bacteria, never use bleach solutions on your skin, as it could cause irritation.  Always read the product label before using it on your skin.

What About Cleaning Products? What’s The Difference Between Cleaning Products, Sanitizing Products, and Disinfecting Products?

Cleaning solutions (common household cleaners) clean dirty surfaces (by removing impurities like soil and dirt), whereas sanitizing or disinfection kills and removes or kills germs on surfaces.

Cleaning products use detergents and/or soap to remove impurities from surfaces.

What About Sanitizing Your Hands?

Hand sanitizers use alcohol as the main chemical to kill germs. By sanitizing your hands, you lower your risk of infection and the spread of infection from harmful germs. After coming into contact with an object out in public (such as a doorknob, or any public facilities), it is recommended to wash your hands with a product that contains a strong chemical like alcohol.

Can I Make A Homemade Hand Sanitizer?

Yes, you can. Using DIY sanitizers on your hands can be effective and won’t leave any irritation to your skin, but you need to be careful and follow a recipe. Find one here.


Sanitizers kill up to 99% of certain bacteria within a period of time.

Disinfectants kill a wider range of bacteria than sanitizers, including bacteria, viruses, mildews, and fungi, within a  period of time.

Cleaners remove dirt from an object. Be sure you are using the right type of cleaner for the soil you need to remove.

About Protective Hygiene

Protective Hygiene is a protective personal protective equipment (PPE) supplier based in Henley on Klip, with a complete showroom. Our products include face masks, gloves, sanitizers, face Shields, pulse oximeters, sanitizer dispensers, disinfectants, temperature watches, medical masks (n95), soap dispensers, hand sanitizer supplies, reusable face masks, and infrared thermometers.

We offer free delivery in Midvaal, and we have pick-up points in:

Germiston: 3 Gamma Rd, Germiston, 1400

Craighall Park:22 Rutland Ave, Craighall Park, Randburg, 2196

Three Rivers: 82 Service Rd, Three Rivers, Vereeniging, 1935

Office hours:

Monday-Friday 8:00 – 4:00pm

Saturday – 9:00 – 5:00pm






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