Cleaning Battle

Cleaning Battle: Disinfecting vs. Sanitizing

Are you dealing with the aftermath of a rat infestation? Or are you disgusted to return to your home? Are you hyperventilating because you’ve spent too much time on WebMD?

Don’t worry – we care about your health care and will describe the two most important methods for maintaining your mental and physical health. Here’s the difference between disinfecting and sanitizing:


You’ve seen these in small bottles (“Can I have some Purell, please?”). Sanitizers are chemical compounds that eliminate virtually all bacteria in less than a minute. Sanitizers are perfect for a disaster that requires immediate attention. They are not harmful and do not require you to use protection.

Use sanitizers when…

Bacteria needs to be eliminated on your kitchen table. If you have kids, they probably don’t wash their hands often enough; thus, use sanitizers on their toys, utensils, and dishes. Sanitizing is important because infectious diseases find their ways into your body through multiple avenues: touching droplets, breathing fumes, cooking on contaminated surfaces and chewing. Thus, shield yourself by sanitizing door handles, keyboards and cutting boards.

Sanitizers can be made at home. Use straight, distilled white vinegar to get the job done (kind of). Remember, you will never completely remove bacteria from a surface, but unless you’re a butcher, this shouldn’t really matter.


Disinfectants are heavier. As a result, they’re more effective terminators of microorganisms. The virtues of patience ring true with disinfectants – they take longer but perform better. Maid Sailors uses these in your home during a standard cleaning; disinfectants also have various industrial applications. Think of it this way: without disinfectants, there would be little difference between New York Presbyterian Hospital and your bathroom.


Use disinfectants when…

You need something powerful. Chances are, you won’t need to use these in your home on a daily basis, but it’s good to keep them around in case you (or a pet) has an accident.

In laboratory conditions, proper disinfectants are required. Cross-contamination can occur from experiments, causing diseases to spread. Most disinfection of spills (through organic matter or porous surfaces) takes ~20 minutes. Treating liquid organic waste before proper sink disposal also takes ~20 minutes (we’re not sure why).

 Always use your brain

Sanitize and disinfect popular bacteria hangouts, like bathrooms and kitchens. Take all necessary precautions. For the “glass half full” people out there, you’re partially right: the absolute efficiency of both sanitizers and disinfectants forces microorganisms to evolve into stronger, more resistant strains.  Don’t worry, the scientists at Procter and Gamble are hard at work saving the human race from extinction. Now, when’s Happy Hour again?

More more helpful tips, click here.

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