Cleaners, sanitizers, and disinfectants tend to get confused with each other. However, they are not all created equal.
Sanitizers just reduce bacteria, not kill them. Killing bacteria is a job for disinfectants. Then you have cleaners that do just that. They clean, removing dirt and grime from surfaces.
Environmental Protection Agency
The EPA is an agency that regulates sanitizers and disinfectants. These regulations put a sanitizer or disinfectant through tests to see if they stand up to specific pre-defined standards.
Without this certification a solution cannot be labelled as either a sanitizer or disinfectant.
What They Target
In the process of obtaining EPA certification, each solution is tested against certain germs. These germs must be listed on a solutions label.
One thing to always remember is that one solution will not kill every type of germ and bacteria. Also, Sanitizers kill bacteria and disinfectants kill viruses and fungi.
Take Your Time
Every solution has its own rate of killing time. This means that while some formulas take less than a minute to do their job, others take five. This “dwell time” is required by law to be listed on the product label.
The time it takes to kill germs should be a top thing to look for when choosing a solution for whatever the job may be.
These formulas are most often found in places of food service. However, if you are looking for a product that is safe for surfaces that will come in contact with food you need to make sure you are getting the right thing.
Not all sanitizers are “food contact” formulas and can be dangerous in these types of settings.
Even if you are using a “food contact” sanitizer, you will still need to read the instructions and make sure it is used properly. This includes making sure the surface is completely dried after sanitizing.
Completely different than sanitizers and disinfectants, cleaners are much more simple.
Cleaners are soaps or detergents that actually physically remove dirt and grime from a surface. They don’t kill germs or bacteria; they just remove dirt. Whether it be for your floors or your ceilings, cleaners come in a multitude of forms.
The EPA does not test or regulate cleaners which is why there are so many different kinds in the market. This being said, you should always read the label and maybe do a little research before purchasing and using any type of cleaner.
When it comes to cleaning, there are different levels to the process.
First, cleaners only clear dirt and grime from a surface. Do not expect them to actually kill any germs or bacteria.
Sanitizers and disinfectants are the only ones certified by the EPA to actually kill bacteria and germs, respectively. These go through multiple tests to make sure they do their job. However, always check to see which germs they kill. There is no kill-all formula and you will probably need more than one to get the job done.