Disinfection and sterilization are the two common cleaning methods to kill or inhibit the growth of microorganisms. Microbes can cause a number of diseases in humans and animals. They are also responsible for food spoilage. Difference between Disinfection and Sterilization
Therefore, it is beneficial to kill or inhibit its growth to minimize its harmful effects. This is accomplished by sterilization or disinfection. However, both processes are based on different principles.
Let’s take a detailed look at the difference between disinfection and sterilization.
Disinfection vs Sterilization
|In this, the amount of harmful microbes is minimized to a negligible level.||In this, the medium is completely free of all microbes.|
|It kills only the vegetative cells and not the spores.||Kills both vegetative cells and spores.|
|Wounds are disinfected with agents such as hydrogen peroxide or isopropyl alcohol.||Wounds cannot be sterilized as they can kill surrounding healthy cells.|
|Disinfection only reduces the effect of microbes.||Sterilization completely removes microbes from the surface|
|Chemical methods are used for disinfection.||The combination of heat, irradiation, high pressure, chemical and physical methods are used for sterilization.|
|Phenol, alcohol, chlorine, iodine are some of the disinfectant agents.||High temperatures, steam, radiation, filtration are some of the sterilization techniques.|
|Only proper cleaning||Extreme cleaning|
|Used in daily life.||It is used primarily for medical and research purposes.|
|For example, pasteurization, urinal disinfection, etc.||For example, sterilization of instruments used during surgery by autoclaving.|
What is sterilization?
Sterilization is a process that is used primarily to kill all forms of microorganisms and their spores. This process is carried out to maintain a sterile environment. It is usually done by combinations of heat, irradiation, filtration, high pressure, etc.
What is disinfection?
Disinfection is a chemical process used to eliminate or inhibit the growth of bacteria and other pathogens that can cause infectious diseases in humans and animals. Disinfectants are the chemical solutions used to keep the substance free from infection. These include alcohol, iodine, chlorine, etc.
Similarities Between Disinfection and Sterilization
Disinfection and sterilization have a few things in common. These include:
- Both are used to decontaminate objects and surfaces
- Both processes can kill (most) harmful microbes.
Conclusion of the main differences
The main conclusion here is that the goal of disinfection and sterilization are different. Disinfection aims to kill or inactivate harmful microorganisms, but leaves some microbes intact. Sterilization, on the other hand, aims to kill all microbes. And each form of decontamination has its functional use, as indicated in the comparison chart.