Difference between Sterilization, Disinfection, Cleaning and Antiseptics

Here, we are going to discuss the definitions and differences between Sterilization, Disinfection, Cleaning and Decontamination and also what is meant by Antiseptics .Levels of disinfection will be discussed too .


It is the complete removal, destruction or inactivation of ALL forms of microbial life including bacteria, viruses, fungi and Spores .


It is the elimination of Most -if not all- pathogenic micro-organisms excluding Spores.

Difference :

- Disinfection Lacks sporicidal activity .

Levels of Disinfection

a. High level disinfection
It destroys all vegetating bacteria including Mycobacterium Tuberculosis ,, fungi and All viruses .

b. Intermediate level disinfection
It destroys all vegetating bacteria including Mycobacterium Tuberculosis and Majority of fungi and viruses .

c. Low including  level disinfection
- It destroys vegetating bacteria , Some fungi and Some viruses .
- It is not effective against such resistant bacteria as Mycobacterium Tuberculosis , which is used as an indicator because it is relatively resistant to disinfection .


- It is a process of removal of visible dust, dirt, organic load and other foreign materials .
- This process removes some micro-organisms .
- It usually done with water and soap, detergents or enzymatic products .
- Cleaning must always precede disinfection and sterilization .


These are special types of chemical disinfectants ( e.g ethyl and isopropyl alcohol ) which can be safely applied to skin and mucous membranes but are not suitable for systemic administration .


It is a general term that is applied to any procedure by which pathogenic micro-organisms are reduced to a level where items are safe to handle .

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