The Difference

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Sterilization, Disinfection, and Sanitization: The Difference.

The three processes of sterilization, disinfection, and sanitization are all forms of decontamination related to the removal or destruction of microorganisms on surfaces. Disease-causing microorganisms are ever present on surfaces and must be removed if the host is at risk of getting infected as in the case with lowered immunity. The three processes will remove microbes from a surface to varying degrees. Their effectiveness is also a factor of the contact time between the sterilant/ disinfectant/ sanitizer and the surface from which the microorganism are being removed/ reduced. This is because some bacteria form spores and are therefore very resistant to chemical or heat destruction. Only prolonged exposure can therefore succeed in killing them.Sterilization, Disinfection, and Sanitization: The Difference.


        Sterilization is the complete killing and destruction of all microorganisms from an inanimate surface. This process of decontamination kills even the most stubborn of spore-forming microorganisms. Sterilization is therefore superior to the other two processes in that it indiscriminately eliminates all microorganisms by killing them, including those that are stubborn and form resistant spores (ScienceDirect, 2020). Because of this high level of security, sterilization is the process used to rid surgical instruments of any traces of microorganisms.Sterilization, Disinfection, and Sanitization: The Difference.

Disinfection on the other hand is also a form of decontamination (ScienceDirect, 2020). However, it is not as effective as sterilization in eliminating microorganisms from a surface. Disinfectants do not usually kill all the microorganisms on a surface. What they do is to remove as much of the microbes as possible from the surface. They also make the surface much less habitable for the microorganisms and prevent them from flourishing. Disinfection is an important infection prevention measure, since sterilization is expensive and also cannot be applied to living surfaces. Lastly, sanitization is similar in definition to disinfection in that it is the process by which microorganisms are reduced from a surface by almost 99%. It does not however eliminate them completely (Difference Between, 2020). Sterilization, Disinfection, and Sanitization: The Difference.