Sanitizers and Common Sanitizing Agents

The words “clean” and “sanitary” are often used interchangeably in everyday speech. However, the two have very specific definitions, especially when associated with food or health service. “Clean” is defined as free of dirt or marks while “sanitary” involves the reduction of pathogens, or anything that may endanger health. While a home may be free of dirt or smudges, it may still harbor pathogens that afflict humans.

If a cutting board is used to cut raw chicken, for instance, it may appear clean if a rag is swiped across the board and no chicken remains. Dangerous pathogens are still present on the cutting board until it is thoroughly sanitized, however. Sanitizing is dependent on water temperature, pH, and strength of the sanitizing agent; sanitizing requires the use of heat, chemicals, or radiation. If any of these factors are not correct, the surface may be clean, but dangerous microorganisms may still be present. In the United States, a product cannot be labeled as a sanitizer unless it has been proven to eradicate 99.999% of the original bacteria present on a surface.

Sanitizers, as found at a sanitation chemical supplier, are categorized by their ability to kill or debilitate certain microbes. While some sanitizers, such as bacteriostats, prevent the growth of bacteria, other sanitizers are bactericides, killing all existing bacteria. Germicide in a sanitizer is all-purpose since it destroys all microorganisms: once the microorganisms are destroyed, the surface is considered sterile. “Antiseptic” is a term used with living organisms since it prevents sepsis or putrefaction. Its sister term, “disinfectant” is used on inanimate objects and may not necessarily kill all microorganisms.

If a surface is to be properly cleaned and sanitized, the appropriate tools need to be utilized. A damp sponge that was not sanitized after its previous use may contaminate a surface rather than cleaning it. Likewise, some tools, such as abrasive pads, may disintegrate while in use. The residue remaining afterward may be far less clean and sanitary than believed.

Storing cleaning tools is as important as using the correct tools. If a cleaning rag, sponge, or abrasive scouring pad is simply swished through dish soap and left on a counter to dry in a heap, chances are it will not dry completely. A warm, moist environment is usually the ultimate breeding ground for bacteria and other microorganisms. Ensure proper storage by sanitizing all cleaning paraphernalia after use.

For additional information on sanitation products, contact Bell Chem today. Founded in 1992, we’re the Orlando sanitation chemical supplier that offers a diverse selection of raw materials, botanical, and natural ingredients.