The Difference Between Sanitizing & Disinfecting

Sanitizing and disinfecting are usually spoken in the same sentence. You see it on labels as “Sanitizing Disinfectant Wipes” or in cleaning procedures as “Disinfecting” in one line and “Sanitizing” in the next. 

It’s confusing. Are sanitizing and disinfecting the same thing? Are they different? And what does each one mean?

The Four Types Of Cleaning 

Person using disinfectant to clean and wipe a surface.

A thorough cleaning routine is composed of more than just sanitizing and disinfecting. The main types of “cleaning” are actually broken down into four categories: cleaning, sanitizing, disinfecting and sterilizing.


Removes particles from surfaces (such as dust and dirt) but isn’t powerful enough to kill harmful viruses and bacteria. This is more for aesthetic reasons than health or safety, and can usually be done with traditional cleaning products. 


Lowers the amount of bacteria on surfaces to public health organization standards, but does not kill all of it. 


More advanced cleaning that kills fungi, bacteria and viruses.


The safest technique, sterilizing kills off all fungi, bacteria, viruses and their associated spores, eliminating them completely. 

Which Type Does Your Business Need? 

While it may be tempting to sterilize everything as a precautionary measure, it’s better to choose facility and janitorial supplies that fit your business needs. For example, as a boutique, you probably don’t need to sterilize your space. Instead, you can use sanitizing wipes or over the counter disinfectants to reduce the amount of virus cells and bacteria present between customers.

In a dynamic office designed workspace, your design already limits the amount of contact between employees. In this case, using OMNI ShurGuard to disinfect surfaces and maintain cleanliness might be enough.  

For restaurants, adding the OMNI Spiro to your HVAC system will purify the air through UV technology, helping to prevent the spread of illness while diners are present. 

If you operate a medical facility or a hotel, you’re going to need a top of the line enhanced cleaning routine to keep staff and guests safe. Mobile Surface Disinfection units (the OMNI Shield & Aura) are suggested. These technologically advanced units use electrostatic sprayers or UV lighting to kill off disease causing bacteria and viruses in businesses where this is critical. 

Every business will have different needs for cleaning, sanitizing, disinfecting and sterilizing. Whether you’re just beginning your cleaning routine or looking to grow your current one, Global’s team will meet you where you are to help you create a safer workplace.