One of the common points of confusion in the commercial cleaning industry is the delineation between the terms Sanitizer and Disinfectant. Too often the terms are used interchangeably, when in fact there are clear differences between the two terms and the processes they represent.
It is crucial that custodial staffs understand which process is appropriate at the right time, in the right environment, and with the appropriate methods and products. All involved in the cleaning and maintenance of facilities need to be aware of what defines a disinfectant, what defines a sanitizer, and what situations call for each type of product. Supervisors should have a sound understanding of how these products are classified and how they are regulated. Through this knowledge, supervisors and staff members will all be aware of when it is appropriate to sanitize and when it is appropriate to disinfect.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulates products that make claims to killing organisms. This regulation is authorized by the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA). Under FIFRA there are specific requirements on label information, use-dilution, formula, and manner of application.