The Difference Between Disinfecting and Sanitizing

Since the beginning of the COVID-19 Pandemic, the words disinfecting and sanitizing have been some of the most used words in almost everyone’s vocabulary. Despite your location, it seems that we hear the words sanitize or disinfect more often now than ever, and it’s all due to learning more about protecting yourself from getting affected by this deadly virus.

However, it also has been apparent that we use the two words; sanitize and disinfect, interchangeably. When in reality, they are different. With that being said, what is the difference between disinfecting and sanitizing? Most people think it is the same thing - but is it? Well, no but let’s dissect why they are different and discuss the difference between disinfecting and sanitizing.

What is Disinfecting?

Disinfecting refers to killing harmful bacteria and viruses. In disinfecting, people usually use chemicals to fully eliminate harmful germs, bacteria, and viruses from surfaces and areas. Many believe in order to disinfect you have to use toxic chemicals, but this is not necessarily true. There are many disinfectants on the market today that is safe and non-toxic while being equally effective as those harsher and toxin-full options. With advancements in disinfectants, there are safe disinfectants for any space, including kitchens and all other food-contact surfaces.

What is Sanitizing?

On the other hand, sanitizing refers to lowering the number of germs, bacteria, and viruses, on surfaces to a safe level. A sanitizer is generally defined as an alcohol-based chemical that kills 99.9% of specific test bacteria in a determined amount of time. Sanitizing is a great daily option to include in cleaning processes and is effective in helping you and your loved ones stay safe. 

The Difference Between Disinfecting and Sanitizing

As stated above, disinfecting is for killing germs, and sanitizing is for lowering the number of germs. Many sanitizers are very effective for keeping individuals safe against viruses and bacteria, but the main difference between disinfectants and sanitizing is the concentration of a solution. If you take a disinfectant solution, for example, Vital Oxide, if the product is used at full strength, it is a medical-grade disinfectant that is safe and non-toxic but not necessarily needed for everyday use in most environments. However, if properly diluted with water, the Vital Oxide disinfectant also doubles as an effective sanitizer for most surfaces. 

Related: Why Not Use Hydrogen Peroxide?

The disinfecting process destroys and therefore successfully inactivates both bacteria and viruses. Apart from killing the germs, the disinfecting process can also lower the risk of infections from one person to another. With that being said, the sanitizing process lowers the number of germs to a very safe level but does not completely destroy it. 

Hence, we can easily say that the process of disinfecting is way more effective than sanitizing. For fighting against the deadly COVID-19 virus, disinfecting is more effective and reliable than sanitizing, as sanitizing is more of a temporary fix when compared to the long-term fix of disinfecting. 

The list of different sanitizers and disinfectants is extensive. However, the point being made here is that, if you know the difference between disinfectants and sanitizers, you can purchase products according to your needs. Visit Health to find the list of sanitizers approved by the government.


Sterilization, on the other hand, constitutes a different process. This process is typically utilized by professionals in healthcare settings such as hospitals or health care centers.  

When comparing disinfecting and sterilizing, it's important to understand that while disinfecting eliminates germs, the process of sterilization removes any and all microorganisms. This includes both those that are harmful or not harmful. 

Sterilization is very common in medical facilities, but it may also be helpful for businesses such as beauty salons, and schools that want to get rid of germs in classrooms. 

Understanding Germ-Killing Time Frame

The time it takes to kill germs is one other factor that needs to be considered and is important when evaluating both sanitizers and disinfectants, and this must also be listed on a product’s label. Some chemical formulas kill respective germs in 5 minutes and others in just one minute or less. This is called “dwell time” and should be taken into account when choosing and using sanitizers and disinfectants for various applications and needs. For example, Disinfect & Fog’s Vital Oxide can be used in electrostatic disinfectant sprayers, evenly distributing the disinfectant solution, eliminating 99.99% of bacteria in a short time (5-minutes), and does not need to be wiped away.

Vital Oxide for sale

Now that we have dissected and defined the difference between sanitizers and disinfectant solutions. As a reader of this article, you can say you understand the difference between the two and know when to disinfect and when to sanitize! During these unprecedented pandemic times, sanitizing and disinfecting are some of the main guards that can protect us and our families along with our safety. Ensure that you are following health protocols and regulations for the time being and until the COVID-19 vaccine is out to the majority of the population. 

The EPA (the Environmental Protection Agency) has regulated many disinfectants and sanitizers that are safe to use while remaining effective. Disinfect & Fog offers government-authorized disinfectants that are non-toxic and proven to kill 99.99% of germs. Please feel free to contact us for further information or if you have any questions or concerns. 

Finally, a new and more modern way of disinfecting has also become popular is spraying/fogging machines. These machines allow for quick, and effective disinfecting while providing the same results as disinfecting products such as wipes or sprays. The positive aspect of using fogger/spraying machines is that it allows you to use a disinfectant of your choosing. This means that it allows you to use disinfectant solutions that are safe, non -irritating to the skin, non-corrosive to treated articles and is an odour-free formula. A great product is the Ultra-Lyte (LINK) Disinfectant solution from Disinfect and Fog. The Ultra-Lyte combined with the Disinfecto Electrostatic Sprayer is a great disinfecting device for your house, your business, or really anywhere! 

Don't miss these stories

Give us a call today!    1-855-561-4512