When we’re talking about cleaning products and cleanroom supplies, we often hear the words ‘sanitise’ and ‘disinfect’. So much so, that sometimes people use these words interchangeably. But as anyone in industry or healthcare knows, the distinctions between these terms are not just arbitrary, but critical to meeting regulatory standards and delivering on your hygiene needs.

Knowing and understanding the differences between these terms helps you select the right products for you. 

Below we have outlined the meaning of these terms and the distinctions between them: 



To clean something means to use soap or detergents to remove physical dirt and organic matter from surfaces. Cleaning does not necessarily kill microorganisms, but the mechanical action of cleaning helps break down any soiling on a surface. This is necessary if there is any dirt, organic matter or grease on a surface. You must  clean dirty surfaces before you sanitise and disinfect them.  


To sanitise something means to kill bacteria on its surfaces using chemicals. Sanitisers work quickly to reduce the number of contaminants on a surface. For instance, we often aim to sanitise hands to ensure overall higher hygiene standards. Sanitising is not as rigorous as disinfection, and cannot ensure surfaces are free of viruses or contaminants. When it comes to cleanrooms, we would always suggest using a disinfectant rather than a sanitiser. Sanitising surfaces can be part of a two step process, after cleaning or before disinfecting. 


To disinfect something means to kill as many of the viruses and bacteria on its surfaces as you can, using chemicals. The efficacy of a disinfectant can be measured in log reductions, with each log being a 10-fold reduction in bacteria or viruses. A 5 log reduction is considered the gold standard for reducing contamination. However, for practical reasons, a 2 or 3 log reduction may be adequate to limit contamination in a cleanroom.

A surface should be clean (free from dirt and grease) before it can be disinfected. Disinfecting can take longer than cleaning and sanitising, so it is important that contact times should be observed. If you put a disinfectant on a surface and then wipe it off, it may not have killed everything. When using disinfectants, always follow the manufacturer’s instructions. You must use biocides safely.

What AGMA products are right for you?

If you need to source industrial, healthcare, or cleanroom cleaning products, whether to clean, sanitise or disinfect, you will want to identify the products that best suit your needs.

Cleaning with Neutral Detergent

If you need a cleaning product for a commercial setting, or to clean surfaces ahead of disinfection you will want to make sure that surfaces and items are clean and free from visible dust and residue by using a quality detergent. AGMA’s Neutral Detergent is formulated by our experts, designed to meet Annex 1 cGMP cleaning standards and to be suitable for use in cleanrooms, depending whether sterile is needed or not. 

It is also good practice to rinse surfaces to remove any residue from cleaning and disinfection products. AGMA’s Sterile High Purity Water is an excellent solvent for this. It has been tested and validated for 13 weeks in use sterility. 

Disinfecting with our sterile isopropanol and denatured ethanol products

For precise protection and to meet the highest standards of cleanliness, disinfecting is the answer. Going beyond cleaning and sanitising because it effectively kills bacteria and viruses, disinfectants are powerful tools for minimising the spread of germs.

At AGMA, we have a range of different products, including disinfectant sprays and wipes, to keep your cleanroom environment clean. We have products to help with day-to-day disinfection across a range of surfaces including worktops, equipment, gloved hands and transferred items. 

If you are concerned about killing highly resistant bacteria spores, we also offer AGMA’s Sterile Zyceine, which provides all the positives of an effective, efficient sporicide while reducing many of the common negative aspects, with a 2 year unopened shelf life and minimal residue.

Getting the right cleaning solutions for your needs

Understanding your requirements will help you find the appropriate products for your needs.  

To maintain standards at a sustainable cost you need to get your cleaning and disinfection products from a reliable company that has consistency in supply chain and quality. 

For over half a century, AGMA has built a reputation for quality and service, providing bespoke disinfection and sanitisation solutions. Every AGMA chemical solution has been formulated by our in-house experts with trust from a wealth of global industry experts. 

Whether you’re looking to prevent contamination or keep your systems maintained, you can choose AGMA – with competitively priced solutions that are of impeccable quality with the reassurance of an ISO9001:2015 compliant Quality Management system.

Want to make sure you’re on the right track with cleaning, sanitising and disinfection?

Download Healthcare Guide.