Microbiology What is the Difference Between Disinfectant, Antiseptic and Sanitizer?
These terms are commonly used in pharmaceuticals and food industries. When someone ask about the difference we are not able to tell the difference between these terms as we use these terms (disinfectants and sanitizers) interchangeably. But what is the difference between these terms?
Disinfectants: Disinfectants are the antimicrobial agent that are used on the inanimate (non-living) objects to kill the microbes. We can’t apply disinfectant on the living tissues. Depending upon their spectrum disinfectants are mainly classified in to three different levels
Low level disinfectant
Intermediate level disinfectant
High level disinfectant
Low level disinfectants: These are those disinfectants which are used to reduce or kill microbial population. Their efficacy is low as compared to other level, it means their spectrum is low.
Intermediate level disinfectants: These are those disinfectants which are used to kill microbial population. They have broad spectrum as compared to low level disinfectants means they are able to kill wide range of microbes but not necessarily kill the bacterial or fungal spores.
High level disinfectants: These are those disinfectants which are used to kill broad range of microorganisms. They are broad spectrum disinfectants and can kill bacterial and fungal spores. But for spores there is special class of disinfectants which claim for sporocidal activity. During purchase we need to check whether disinfectant is sporocidal or not as per requirement.
Antiseptic: An antiseptic is used on living tissues and cells to destroy any types of infections which may be living on the tissue. Disinfectants are meant to destroy microorganisms which can infect nonliving objects. Common antiseptics include mouthwash, and yeast infection treatment creams. Disinfectants are commonly found in household cleaning products for kitchens, bathrooms, and other commonly touched items where germs are found.
Sanitizers: Sanitizers are the agents that are used to reduce the microbial population to a certain level which is safe for humans. Basically sanitizers are used in the food industries to reduce the microbial or germs population without affecting the quality of the manufactured product.
The sanitization standard for contamination reduction of food contact surfaces is generally accepted as 99.999% (a 5-log reduction) achieved in 30 seconds (Official Detergent Sanitizer Test).
The sanitization standard for nonfood contact surfaces is accepted as a reduction of 99.9% (3 logs) within 30 seconds.