Sanitizing vs. Disinfecting

Sanitizer. When we sanitize a surface, we are taking steps to reduce the number of pathogens on that surface to what is considered a safe level for public health. In most types of cleaning situations, including in food service locations, a sanitizer may be all that is needed.

Disinfectant. When disinfectants are used, hygienic cleaning is taken to a much higher level. While sanitizers are designed to reduce the number of pathogens on a surface to safe levels, disinfectants are designed to kill pathogens on a surface based on the product’s “kill claims” and how it is used as directed per the manufacturer’s instructions. When selected and used properly, disinfectants are able to kill most germs, bacteria, and other pathogens on a surface that could cause or spread disease.

A common chemical for both sanitizing and disinfecting is bleach (8.25% sodium hypochlorite). Foodservice operations may consider the addition of a disinfection step for food contact surfaces using an EPA-registered product with a viral pathogen or coronavirus claim. Refer to the product label for directions. A disinfection step should be followed by standard procedures for cleaning and sanitizing.

Disinfection Procedure:
Combine 1/3 cup bleach to 1 gal water
• Remove visible soil, dirt and contamination before using bleach solution
• Mix fresh solutions daily for disinfecting
• Mix bleach with cool water
• Do not mix liquid bleach with other cleaning products
• Wet entire surface
• Leave solution on surface for two (2) minutes

Download a disinfection procedure:

Download a poster for disinfecting with bleach: 

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