What’s the difference between a sanitiser and a disinfectant?

What’s the difference between a sanitiser and a disinfectant?

“The terminologies sanitiser, disinfectant and antiseptic were just words to most people before Covid hit,” points out Burt Rodrigues, CEO of Biodx. “People knew the words but perhaps didn’t understand the clear differences between them all.”

Today it’s become vital that people understand that the sanitiser you use on your hands and body will not work the same way on surfaces. Because most sanitisers typically have a large component of alcohol (70% recommended by the World Health Organization), these will quickly evaporate when sprayed on a surface, which renders it useless seconds later. But a registered disinfectant, which should never be sprayed on skin, will be effective on surfaces for a lot longer than any sanitising spray.

“It’s vital that the public be educated on these differences, which is why the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and local campaigns put out this information on the properties of an ideal disinfectant. There’s no such thing as being a little bit effective when dealing with or destroying viruses such as Covid-19. Each product you choose must work to a 100% level of what it says it does and only used where recommended,” Rodrigues says.

Here are the properties of an ideal disinfectant – as highlighted by the CDC:

  • Broad spectrum: should have a wide antimicrobial spectrum;
  • Fast acting: should produce a rapid kill;
  • Not affected by environmental factors: should be active in the presence of organic matter (such as blood, sputum or faeces) and compatible with soaps, detergents and other chemicals encountered in use;
  • Non-toxic: should not be harmful to the user or patient;
  • Surface compatibility: should not corrode instruments and metallic surfaces and should not cause the deterioration of cloth, rubber, plastics, and other materials;
  • Residual effect on treated surfaces: should leave an antimicrobial film on the treated surface;
  • Easy to use with clear label directions;
  • Odourless: should have a pleasant odour or no odour to encourage its routine use;
  • Economical: should not be prohibitively high in cost;
  • Solubility: should be soluble in water;
  • Stability: should be stable in concentrate and use-dilution;
  • Cleaner: should have good cleaning properties; and
  • Environmentally friendly: should not damage the environment on disposal.

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