In most instances, antimicrobial chemicals are referred as disinfectants rather than sterilants. On application, a disinfectant kills all bacteria, fungi, and viruses but not their spores or their reproductive bodies. Therefore, it only reduces them. On the other hand, sterilants remove all microorganisms. Unlike disinfectants, sterilants remove even spores, viruses, and related acellular elements. The application of antimicrobial components is in living tissues. In this regards, microorganisms are killed whereas host cells remain unaffected. Therefore, the antimicrobial chemicals only reduce microbes and do not kill them all.
The Differences between Sterilisation and Disinfection.
Both processes, disinfection and sterilization are decontamination processes. The main difference between the two is that sterilization kills all micro-organisms and also destroys all spores that might be present on surfaces, in liquids, in compounds amongst others. On the other hand, disinfecting reduces microorganisms from the inanimate objects and surfaces (Rutala & Weber, 2004). Also, the method of disinfection is in most instances applied in the decontamination of surfaces and air, whereas the sterilization is in food, medicine, and surgical equipment applications.
Properties That Make Antimicrobial Chemical Agents Disinfectants.
For an antimicrobial chemical agent to be referred as a good disinfectant, it has to possess several properties. For instance, the disinfectants are expected to offer full microbiological sterilization and should not cause harm to human beings and other useful forms of life. Also, it’s a general expectation that they should not be expensive and should be non-corrosive. Disinfectants used indoors should not be mixed or stored with other cleaning agents. Such is meant to prevent any chemical reactions that might occur in the process.
There is a need for handling Sterilants and Disinfectants carefully. Some of their chemical properties as mentioned at the beginning are very reactive, especially when exposed to other chemicals(Block, 2001). Furthermore, efficient storage mechanisms should be followed, depending on the guidelines provided by the manufacturers.
Block, S. S. (Ed.). (2001). Disinfection, sterilization, and preservation. Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.
Rutala, W. A., & Weber, D. J. (2004). Disinfection and sterilization in healthcare facilities: what clinicians need to know. Clinical infectious diseases, 39(5), 702-709.