There is a Difference Between Cleaner, Sanitizer, and Disinfectant! Free Infographic!

Differences between Cleaners, Sanitizers, and Disinfectants

Most people do not realize there is a difference between a cleaner, sanitizer and disinfectant. They should be used for different purposes and different applications. Below is a free downloadable infographic with all of the major differences between each product type!

Cleaner Sanitizer DisinfectantEverything you need to know

What is the Difference?

During the Covid-19 pandemic we have all become much more aware of the germ killing products on the market. Many people think that disinfecting is the same as cleaning or sanitizing. But they are actually quite different, below you will find out what the differences are and when to use each product type.


Cleaning products remove dirt, dust, crumbs, and germs from surfaces or objects. When cleaning you will probably use soap (surfactant) and water to physically remove the germs off of the surface. This does not always kill the germs. However since you removed them from the surface there are less germs that could spread infection.

(Common Cleaners: Laundry Detergents, Dish Soap, Hand Soap, Degreasers, and Abrasives.)


Sanitizing can be done by either cleaning, disinfecting or both. Sanitizing means that you are lowering the number of germs to a "safe level". The safe level depends on public health standards or requirements at an institution. For example the sanitization standards for a local restaurant is likely less stringent than a hospital. While a sanitizer can make kill claims against germs and bacteria, unless it has acquired EPA registration it cannot make claims of killing viral pathogens such as Covid-19.

(Common Cleaners: Hand Sanitizer, Pine-Sol, ZEP Alcohol Sanitizer, Antibacterial Wipes.)


Disinfecting chemicals to kill germs on surfaces and objects. Some common disinfectants are bleach and alcohol solutions. You usually need to leave the disinfectant on the surfaces and objects for a certain period of time to kill germs. All disinfectants make kill claims are registered with the EPA, and assigned an EPA number located on the label.

(There are two major types of disinfectants Oxidizers (Hydrogen Peroxide, CLO2) and Quaternary Ammonium Compounds aka Quats (Lysol, Clorox Wipes). The biggest difference between the types are oxidizers are all natural and breakdown naturally, while quats are lab made and have been linked to infertility, respiratory and cancer causing issues.)


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What is the Difference ? Cleaner, Sanitizer, Disinfectant infographic

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