Although the terms “sanitizing” and “disinfecting” are often used interchangeably, they are different processes with different effectiveness. The EPA regulates both sanitizers and disinfects as pesticides under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, Rodenticide Act (FIFRA). Under this set of regulations, parameters are established for labeling a product as a sanitizer and/or disinfectant, based on a product’s effectiveness.
If a product will be used to sanitize a food contact surface, it must be 99.999 percent effective in 30 seconds. For non-food contact surfaces, sanitizing agents must be 99.9 percent effective in 30 seconds. Disinfectants must destroy or inactivate microorganisms in ten minutes. Products can be dual-registered as both a sanitizer and a disinfectant if they meet the respective criteria of both.