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What is a Disinfectant or Sanitizer?

According to Webster, disinfect is to cleanse so as to destroy or prevent the growth of disease carrying microorganisms. Therefore a disinfectant is an agent, such as heat, irradiation or chemical that disinfects by destroying, neutralizing or inhibiting the growth of disease-carrying microorganisms.
EPA further defines disinfectants as products that are used on hard inanimate surfaces and objects to destroy or irreversibly inactivate fungi and bacteria but not necessarily their spores. Disinfectant products are divided into two major types: hospital and general use. Hospital type disinfectants are the most critical to infection control and are used on medical instruments, floors, walls, bed linens and other surfaces. General disinfectants are the major source of products used in households, swimming pools and water purifiers.
Sanitize is to make sanitary, as by cleaning or disinfecting and to be sanitary is to be free from elements such as filth or pathogens that endanger (mushroom) health. Sanitizers are used to reduce, but not necessarily eliminate, microorganisms from the inanimate environment to levels considered safe as determined by public health codes or regulations. Sanitizers include food contact and nonfood contact products. Sanitizing rinses for surfaces such as dishes and cooking utensils, as well as equipment and utensils found in dairies, food-processing plants and eating and drinking establishments comprise the food contact sanitizers. These products are important because they are used on sites where consumable food products are placed and stored. Nonfood contact surface sanitizers include air-handling equipment, spawning and casing equipment, bedboards, trays, floors, walls and breezeways.
Antiseptics and Germicides are used to prevent infection and decay by inhibiting the growth of microorganisms. Because these products are used in or on living humans or animals, they are considered drugs and are thus approved and regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Germicidal products are generally more closely regulated and are not commonly used around mushroom farms.
Disinfectants and sanitizers will be used interchangeably in this article.

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