The difference between cleaners, disinfectants and sanitisers

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Whether you work within the cleaning industry or you’re cleaning your own home – how confident are you about heading to the cleaning cupboard and grabbing the right cleaning chemical and actually know the differences between cleaners, sanitizers and disinfectants?

If you hesitate in answering, you’re not alone, which is why we though a handy little blog post explaining the difference would help!

1. Cleaners

Cleaners make lousy disinfectants, and disinfectants make lousy cleaners – that’s a fact.

Regular cleaning agents (liquids, powders, sprays, or granules) simply remove dirt, dust, debris and odors from surfaces. Although this is an important first step in improving the health of an environment, they are not effective at killing bacteria or viruses. Most cleaners are used to improve the appearance of an area or surface.

“No matter how thorough, cleaning by itself is not enough to ensure that you won’t have any undesirable rogue microorganisms at the surface level,” says Darrel Hicks, an infection prevention consultant in St. Louis and author of “Infection Prevention for Dummies.”

2. Sanitisers 

A sanitiser reduces (but doesn’t necessarily kill) bacteria, viruses and fungi on a surface to a level considered safe by public health codes. To qualify as a sanitizer, a chemical must reduce microorganisms by 99.9 percent within 30 seconds.

3. Disinfectant 

A disinfectant, on the other hand, kills nearly 100 percent of the disease-causing bacteria, viruses and fungi listed on its label. To meet Environmental Protection Agency guidelines, a disinfectant must reduce the levels of these pathogens by 99.999 percent in 5 to 10 minutes.

The differences might seem small — just a few hundredths of a percent — but the results can be quite substantial!

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