• Kayla Mastroianni

Sanitise, disinfect and sterilise

Updated: Jun 1, 2020

Since the COVID-19 crisis started, we keep hearing we need to ‘disinfect this’ and ‘sanitise that’. But how should we do it, and what are the differences between sanitising, disinfecting and sterilising?

Let’s break it down.


Lowering the amount of germs on a surface to limit the growth of bacteria.

To sanitise surfaces effectively we can use one of three different products:

  1. Chlorine - this covers a wide range of germs

  2. Ammonium - this is effective against bacteria, yeast, moulds and viruses

  3. Iodine - able to fight against bacteria, yeast, moulds, viruses, fungi and even parasites.

These sanitisers are best for household surfaces, but are not suitable for skin.

The most effective sanitiser for skin is soap and water as it breaks down the fats and proteins covering the Coronavirus.

When soap and water are not available, an alcohol-based sanitiser with a concentration of 60-95% alcohol will do the trick.

However, as we know, global supply of hand sanitiser is low and supermarkets are struggling to keep up with demand. So here is a great basic recipe to make your own at home:

  • ⅔ cup rubbing alcohol

  • ⅓ aloe vera gel

  • Optional: essential oils (lemon, eucalyptus and tea tree oils all have antibacterial properties)

Sanitising hands


Killing most germs and bacteria on a surface. There are two different types of disinfectants:

  1. Alcohol disinfectants - a strength of 70% or higher is necessary to effectively disinfect surfaces

  2. Oxidising disinfectants - these reduce the structure of a cell and kill it

To effectively disinfect surfaces, the area must first be wiped down with soap and water and followed with a disinfectant.

Below is a table from the Australian Government Department of Health to help you make your own disinfectant using bleach and water.

homemade disinfectant table- sanitising


Killing and inactivating all germs and bacteria on a surface. Sterilising is not so much used for household surfaces, but rather kitchen objects and utensils.

The simple way to sterilise is to wash utensils in warm soapy water then place the utensils in boiling water and leave for at least five minutes.

The water and utensils should then be left to cool before taking out - to avoid injury.

You can also mix a solution of one tablespoon of bleach to three litres of water and soak utensils for two minutes to sterilise effectively.

Alternatively, there are sterilising tablets that you can mix with cold water to sterilise utensils faster.

These are generally used for post-natal equipment such as breast pumps, but can be used for kitchen utensils such as cutlery or cooking equipment.

These tablets can also be used to sterilise clothes by soaking for a couple of hours and then washing as normal.

In short: Sanitise your hands; disinfect your surfaces; sterilise your cutlery.

If you would like further information on how to clean thoroughly, have a read of our 'Sanitise, Disinfect & Sterilise' Module below.

Sanitise, Disinfect & Sterilise
PDF • 11.29MB

5 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All