Sanitizing is essential to reduce the risk of disease. The practice has become more significant since the start of the coronavirus pandemic. Besides sanitization, you might also often hear about cleaning, disinfecting, and sterilizing. Those are also important. So, what is sanitizing anyway? How is it different from cleaning and disinfecting? Here is everything you need to know about sanitizing.
Sanitizing reduces the number of germs on surfaces or objects to a safe level, as determined by public health standards. This process usually uses chemicals.
On the other hand, cleaning means removing dirt and debris from surfaces or objects.
Disinfecting also reduces the number of germs, but to a greater extent than sanitizing.
Sterilizing is the process of removing all germs from surfaces or objects.
The most basic level is cleaning, which means removing dirt from a surface. This dirt is usually just dust or other debris. Some bits of bacteria and other pathogens may also go away after cleaning, but usually, it is just a small amount of them. Cleaning is beneficial for removing possible diseases and air pollutants most of the time. It also just makes an area look better.
Cleaning can be done with either water or some solvent. The most common cleaning agent is soap, which effectively removes most types of dirt and grime. Other options include detergents, acids, bases, and solvents. Each has its advantages and disadvantages that should be considered before use. For example, Some solvents can damage certain surfaces if not used correctly.
There is no specific protocol for cleaning. Even a simple sweeping or mopping can count as cleaning. Sometimes people use soap in the process, but there are no particular criteria for the required solution.
Cleaning is necessary to perform every day, or at least every time dirt is on surfaces.
Sanitizing, on the other hand, takes more effort than regular cleaning. The goal is to reduce the number of pathogens or other elements that could increase the risk of spreading diseases. The word “sanitizing” usually applies to things that go into people’s mouths, such as food, baby toys, and hands. When you sanitize something, you’re using a chemical or heat treatment to destroy germs.
Sanitizing is important because it can help reduce the spread of disease. For example, if you’re handling raw chicken, you want to make sure that you sanitize your hands and any surface that the chicken has touched. This will help prevent the spread of bacteria like salmonella.
Sanitizing is also essential for baby toys and bottles. Babies put everything in their mouths, so it’s important to ensure that their toys are clean and free of harmful bacteria. You can use a mild bleach solution to sanitize baby toys.
People also use the term to refer to the germ-removing actions that require a short dwell time for the solution to finish its job. That is why the agents that count as “sanitizers” are usually cleaning products that can remove most pathogens on a surface in less than 30 seconds. People use solutions such as sanitizers, alcohol rub, alcohol spray, and bleach mix in low concentrations.
Disinfecting refers to the effort of removing dirt and eliminating ill-causing germs from stuff. The word usually applies to things that need advanced cleaning. For example, after the COVID-19 outbreak, it is common for people to disinfect things that many people often touch, such as doorknobs, elevator buttons, and other things in public facilities.
Sometimes, people also use “disinfecting” to refer to general cleanings, such as mopping the floor or wiping the table.
However, it is important to note that disinfecting and cleaning is not the same. Cleaning only refers to removing dirt and grime, while disinfecting also kills germs that cause diseases. In other words, cleaning makes things look clean, while disinfecting makes things clean.
There are many ways to disinfect something. The most common method is using chemicals, such as bleach or alcohol. Other methods include using heat, ultraviolet light, and filtration.
Disinfecting is important because it helps prevent the spread of diseases.
People use more potent chemicals to disinfect, and they can be harmful if exposed directly to the skin or eyes. Hence, you need protective wear such as gloves and goggles to prevent harm. The dwell time for disinfection is usually more than two minutes. Common liquids used as disinfectants are bleach in high concentrations, hydrogen peroxide, and more.
The highest level of cleaning is sterilizing. This process aims to remove 100% of dirt and microorganisms, even good bacteria. Sterilizing is intended to eliminate any form of contaminant. It is done using high temperatures, steam, chemicals, or filtration.
One example of sterilization is using an autoclave. This machine uses steam and pressure to kill bacteria and other microorganisms. The process is quick and effective, making it perfect for medical settings.
Hospitals often use autoclaves to clean surgical instruments and dressings.
Another standard method of sterilization is chemical disinfection. This involves using chemicals like bleach, hydrogen peroxide, and alcohol to kill microorganisms. This method is often used on surfaces that are difficult to clean with water or steam, such as computer keyboards and door handles.
Sterilization is standard in healthcare facilities, such as hospitals and doctor’s clinics. It is vital to prevent disease transmission because of the risk of complications and contamination. However, the procedure and the tools required for this process are pretty complicated.
Sanitizing is what most people should focus on most of all the practices above. It is simple and quick, but the impact could be significant. Performing sanitization as often as possible could drastically minimize disease transmission carried by viruses or bacteria.
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