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Infection Control

To sanitize or disinfect, that is the question

September 19, 2010
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Ever increasing concerns about bacteria, cross-contamination, and infectious diseases like MRSA, norovirus and C. difficile have led manufacturers to develop sanitizers and disinfectants with broader kill claims that have less impact on building occupants and indoor air quality.

Misuse of some of these products has fostered easier-to-understand labels and directions that note proper usage and specific tasks that either a sanitizer or a disinfectant will strive at.

Sanitizers and disinfectants can play an integral role in cleaning for health, but, if used improperly — for the incorrect task, insufficient dwell time, wiping with a contaminated cloth — their effectiveness is jeopardized.

A disinfectant is an antimicrobial agent that kills specific test organisms within a set dwell time. Disinfectants tend to be popular among healthcare and educational facilities.

A sanitizer will destroy 99.99 percent of specific test bacteria almost on contact. Dwell times of sanitizers tend to be 30 seconds or less. Sanitizers are popular with the food service industry and retail facilities.
The underlying goal of both sanitizers and disinfectants is the same, kill germs to improve health. The major differences are the types of germs each kill and the time it takes to do so.

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