What’s the difference between STERILIZATION and DISINFECTION?

Question. Will you sterilize your hands, or will you disinfect them? Hmm.. Have you ever been troubled of which word to use? Okay, let’s talk about this really quickly. I will just differentiate the two terms without getting into too much details of each process. This is gonna be a very short talk. 🙂

Sterilization is the elimination of ALL organisms – be it good germs, bad germs or kinda bad germs. Everything. Just like the image below:

Sterilization Principle.

All those colourful germs (just representing the various type of microorganisms present in the surroundings) were “attracted and captured” by the sterilizing agent (represented here by the magnet). This is because sterilization completely removes all living organisms. So how do you do sterilization? You cannot just simply use soap and water to do this. It requires equipment or maybe industrial-grade chemicals to do this. Sterilization usually involves extreme conditions. For example, high temperature (more than 100 degrees Celsius) or high UV radiation. With such conditions, all living organisms will be eliminated.

Disinfection, on the other hand, is the removal of unwanted microorganisms, most of which are the disease-causing germs. This means that not all microorganisms will be eliminated. Just like the image below:

Disinfection Principle.

Only the unwanted germs were captured by the disinfecting agent, leaving behind the others (in this case, the green germs). This means that there is only a certain group of microbes that can be removed by disinfection. One good example of disinfection is washing with soap and water. Soap has disinfecting agents responsible for killing these unwanted germs. Just like what advertisements usually say, it can remove 99.9% of germs (not 100%).

I hope this short article helps. And remember, you disinfect your hands.. not sterilize. 🙂

See you again next time. Adios!

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