When do People Disinfect or Sterilize?

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Disinfection and sterilization aim to eliminate pathogenic and other harmful microorganisms to prevent the spread of infection. According to the CDC guidelines, the two processes are fundamental and should be incorporated into your daily cleaning activities in an appropriate manner. However, it’s always important to know which disinfection product or method is suitable for your environment and the surfaces on which you intend to apply it. The practices serve the same purpose as they are intended to achieve the same goals. So technically, here is the variation between disinfection and sterilization and the determinants of its use by the intensity of the chemical and the method used.

In a time like this, when the world is being ravaged by a deadly virus that has caused a pandemic, it’s essential to understand different types of disinfection and sterilization methods. Roy, Parida, and Bhatia, V. (2020). The only way you can prevent or reduce the infection rate of this virus is through hygiene, which is, cleaning and disinfecting surfaces that you touch frequently. Keeping your hands clean and sanitized as you observe safety measures laid down by the health experts to control the spread.


Disinfection is used in many places like homes, offices, industrial settings, hospitals, and every other place that could potentially host bacteria, viruses, fungi. Mohapatra (2017) mentioned that disinfection involves the use of disinfectants, which are usually chemical compounds, sterilization, on the other hand, it is not limited to the use of chemicals. It can be done through many different methods.


Sterilization is mostly done at the health care facilities to eradicate harmful microorganisms from medical equipment before they are used to treat a patient. But even though it’s primarily done in hospitals, its uses are not limited to hospitals. Yoo (2018) pointed out that there are various types of sterilization methods and products, and some are also used for disinfection. Bleach is one of the disinfectants that are used for both disinfection and sterilization. Some of the sterilization methods include Steam sterilization, ethylene oxide, also known as gas sterilization, hydrogen peroxide gas plasma, ionizing radiation, dry-heat sterilization, liquid chemicals, filtration, microwave, etc.

Rai, Ashok, and Akondi (2020) stated that another difference between disinfectants and sterilizers is that disinfectants are not meant to disinfect wounds when someone is hurt. Alcohol was previously used to sterilize wounds, but later on, was proven to cause more harm than good. The study found that alcohol that is used to make disinfectants or sanitizers is actually good at killing bacteria, but along with it, it also kills healthy cells around the wound, therefore slowing down the period of recovery. When an injured person is taken to the hospital, the medical caregivers will use an appropriate sterilizer to eliminate harmful pathogens and prevent the wound from getting infected. The sterilizer used is usually proven to be safe for the healthy cells, therefore speeding up recovery.


Everyone wants to get out of a health crisis (like this pandemic, for example) alive and healthy. Still, you should not let the situation scare you into doing something like using a disinfectant or sterilizer to do what it’s not designed to do. Like drinking a hand sanitizer, for example, or using bleach to clean an injury if you have one. According to the CDC, doing so cannot reduce the level of risk you were previously in, but instead, it will create another problem that can lead you to the hospital. Always ensure that you follow instructions as given by the experts or the manufacturer. They have tested the product and know its pros and cons. So don’t use less concentration or more, follow instructions.

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