Sanitiser, Disinfectant or Antiseptic? What’s the difference?

By now everyone should be familiar with using sanitising sprays on themselves as well as disinfecting products for surfaces, but how many people are mistakenly using the same product for both jobs?

According to Burt Rodrigues, CEO of Biodx, “The terminologies sanitiser, disinfectant and antiseptic, were just words to most people before Covid hit. 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 WHO) 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 CDC and local campaigns put out this information around the properties of an ideal disinfectant. There’s no such thing as being a little bit effective when dealing with destroying viruses such as Covid-19. Each product you choose must work to a 100% of what it says it does and only used where recommended,” explains Rodrigues.

Sanitising is a process of reducing (not killing/destroying), the occurrence and growth of bacteria, viruses and fungi. Sanitising is better than cleaning alone but the reduction of pathogen populations on environmental surfaces is exponentially better when you disinfect. Since sanitising does not make 100% anti-viral claims, sanitising offers less confidence of destroying the flu or other viruses commonly found on surfaces.

Disinfection is the process of reducing (killing/destroying inactivating) harmful and objectionable bacteria, viruses and other pathogenic microorganisms by various agents such as chemicals (biocides, virucides), heat, ultraviolet light, ultrasonic waves, or radiation. It includes ensuring a food contact surface or utensil does not contain microorganisms at a level that would allow the transmission of infectious disease or compromise food safety.

Antiseptics are antimicrobial substances that are applied to living tissue/skin to reduce the possibility of infection, sepsis or putrefaction. Antiseptics are generally distinguished from disinfectants, which destroy pathogens found on inanimate objects. Antibacterials include antiseptics that have the proven ability to act against bacteria.

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