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What is the difference between sanitization and sterilization?

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Sanitizing is the process of killing and/or removing bacteria and microbes with chemicals. The effectiveness of sanitizing is determined by the chemical(s) used.
For example: Plain water is an effective neutral sanitizer for removing most microbes from surfaces. However, it is not effective for killing most bacteria or microbes. Alcohol is effective for killing and removing most bacteria and microbes.
Sterilization is the process of killing bacteria and microbes with heat. The effectiveness of sterilization is determined by the level of heat used.
Example: 160°F will kill most all bacteria and microbes that are known to be harmful to human life. However, there are microbes that may withstand temperatures up to 867.2°F. This means that it is impractical to achieve 100% sterilization.

Common Misconceptions
  1. Sanitizing and sterilization are the same. That notion is incorrect. Sanitizing is chemical and sterilization is thermal.
  2. That either process is more or less effective than the other. That notion is incorrect. The effectiveness of sanitizing is determined by the chemical(s) used. And the effectiveness of sterilization is determined by the temperature.
  3. That 100% sanitation and/or sterilization is practical. That notion is incorrect. There is no process that is capable of killing all life on a treated material, leaving the material undamaged and leaving the material safe to use. As someone once said... "If you can find a substance that is resistant to everything you'll find a form of life that wants to eat it or live in it."
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