Home General News What is the difference between disinfecting and sterilizing?

What is the difference between disinfecting and sterilizing?

by theskfeed
  1. When it comes to decontamination processes, the two terms that come in mind are Disinfection and Sterilization. Broadly speaking, the terms convey the same meaning but if we analyze these terms in detail, the meanings are a bit different. The current wave of COVID-19 pandemic and prevention from Coronavirus has yet again emphasized the importance of disinfection and sterilization. Also, the commercial disinfection cleaning has gained pace and people are opting for these services to get rid of germs and pathogens.

The Basic Difference between the Two Contamination Processes

Reducing or eliminating the microorganisms from surfaces of the objects with the help of a disinfecting solution is called disinfection. Mostly, the disinfecting cleaning service is used to prevent harmful germs. On the other hand, sterilization refers to the removal of all the microbes whether they are harmful or not. These strong procedures to kill germs are used at times of surgery when there is a need to clean the surgical instruments from all types of germs.

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The Difference on the Basis of Procedure

Sterilization is done mostly in the healthcare facilities like hospitals and clinics where the risk of transmission of disease from the instruments is considered. The sterilization is carried out with the help of high-pressure steam that has the capacity to destroy microbes. Dry heat, hydrogen peroxide gas plasma and liquid chemicals are also used for this process.

For pathogenic microbes except bacterial spores and cleaning lifeless objects, disinfection process is used. Liquid chemicals or wet pasteurization is used to carry out this process. There are various disinfecting solutions available to cater the germs, like mixture of water and bleach can act as a disinfectant used in homes.

The Difference on the Basis of Applicationc

Disinfectants can disinfect tangible objects and air as well. On the contrary, sterilization can be done on surgical instruments, food products and medicine. These are the basic differences in terms of application of the two processes.

Factors Affecting the Efficiency of Sterilization and Disinfection


These factors can be listed down as:

  • Prior cleaning of materials or objects that need to be cleaned
  • Type and level of contamination by the microorganisms
  • Concentration of the germ killing liquid and its exposure time
  • Physical characteristics of the objects
  • Temperature and pH value of disinfection process
  • Relative humidity of the sterilization process


The crisis mankind has faced in the form of Coronavirus has increased the use of commercial disinfection cleaning in the homes and workplaces as well. Various disinfectants are used to clean the surfaces to avoid the risk of getting infected from the Coronavirus. It also keeps you safe from other microorganisms. Even there are multiple businesses that are offering disinfectant cleaning service to cope with the pathogens on the surfaces. Sterilizing is important too, for instance, if the dentist does not sterilize its instruments, the patients are going to carry infections of the mouth. Both the decontamination processes are fairly important and crucial for the well-being of the people.



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