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Is sanitizing good enough?

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If we use a good sanitizing procedure, how close are we to 100% clean? Is this something compared to sterilization with an autoclave?


Few things are 100% clean. Clean dishes are typically about 98-99% “clean”. We don’t disinfect or sterilize dishes, since there is no need. Sanitizing is reducing the number of bacteria, viruses, and fungi to the levels considered safe by health care standards.  In this case, 99% is considered very good.  

Some sanitizers are cleaning agents, some don’t even clean.  None are disinfectants. This is a commonly misused term in the salon industry which is why I avoid the use of the words “sanitize” or “sanitizer”. These words are mostly used incorrectly. Therefore, I use the word “clean” instead. Properly cleaning salon implements, probably removes 99% of contaminants on a surface. When this is followed by proper disinfection, these implements will be 99.99% or more free of debris and infectious organisms. Sterilization does not clean at all, which is why only pre-cleaned implements should be sterilized.  Proper sterilization would kill 100% of the pathogens on a surface, so the difference between disinfection and sterilization is about 0.01%. The question then would be is this 0.01% considered a problem in salons? In my opinion: No.

Hospitals regularly rely on disinfection to prevent the spread of pathogens. Sterilization is only considered necessary when performing surgical procedures, entering the body cavity, or under other unusual circumstances. So disinfection is considered by health care professionals to be a powerful form of protection. That’s why more things are disinfected in hospitals than those that are sterilized. It’s very fortunate that proper disinfection works so well. Many items in both hospitals and salons cannot be sterilized, so relying on proper disinfection is critical. Table tops, armrests, pedicure basins, floors, counters, door knobs, and telephone receivers are but a few examples.  Even so, cleaning, disinfection, and sterilization must be done correctly or the surfaces may remain contaminated.

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