Anti-microbials, disinfectants, sanitizers and sterilants


An antimicrobial is a substance that kills or inhibits the growth of microorganisms such as bacteria, fungi, or protozoans. Antimicrobials either kill microbes (microbicidal) or prevent the growth of microbes (microbistatic). The terminology often associated with antimicrobials can be confusing or misleading and in many cases there is an overlap in function. Another word for microorganism is germ. Consequently, an antimicrobial is the same as a germicidal agent. Disinfectants are antimicrobials (or germicidal agents) used on non-living objects. Sometimes, an antimicrobial is considered a sanitizer, sometimes a sanitizer depending the use concentration of the antimicrobial.

In order to clarify some key terms which are often used interchangeably, I have attempted to define the meaning of the products under discussion in their legal sense.


Microorganismes are too small to be seen by the naked eye.Microorganisms are very diverse; they include bacteria, fungi, archaea, and protists; microscopic plants (called green algae); and animals such as plankton and the planarian. Some microbiologists also include viruses, but others consider these as non-living.


Bacteria are unicellular microorganisms. Bacteria are either beneficial and protective to the immune systems or cause infectious diseases. Bacteria that causes infectious diseases are called pathogens.


Fungi are eukaryotic organisms that includes microorganisms such as yeasts and molds, as well as the more familiar mushrooms.


In biology, a spore is a reproductive structure that is adapted for dispersal and surviving for extended periods of time in unfavorable conditions. Spores form part of the life cycles of many bacteria, plants, algae, fungi and some protozoans. Some pathogens transform from their normal or vegetative state to form spores and are difficult to eliminate since they can resist the effects that sanitizer or disinfectant exposures have on bacteria. Elimination of spores is carried out by specialized chemical agents or physical means, and require several hours for total microbial destruction.


A disinfectant is a germicidal agent which is capable of destroying disease causing bacteria or pathogens, but not spores and not all viruses. From a technical and legal sense, a disinfectant must be capable of reducing the level of pathogenic bacteria by 99.999% during a time frame greater than 5 but less than 10 minutes. The main difference between a sanitizer and a disinfectant is that at a specified use dilution, the disinfectant must have a higher kill capability for pathogenic bacteria compared to that of a sanitizer.


In general, to sanitize means to reduce the number of microorganisms to a safe level. One official and legal version states that a sanitizer must be capable of killing 99.999% known as a 5 log reduction, of a specific bacterial test population, and to do so within 30 seconds. A sanitizer may or may not necessarily destroy pathogenic or disease causing bacteria as is a criteria for a disinfectant. An alternate definition is that a hard surface sanitizer is a germicidal agent which is capable of killing 99.9% ( 3 log reduction), of the infectious organisms which may be present in a bacterial population, within 30 seconds.


Sterilants are specialized chemicals, such as glutaraldehyde or formaldehyde, which are capable of eliminating all forms of microbial life, including spores. The term sterilant conveys an absolute meaning; a substance can not be partially sterile.

Future developments of germicidal agents

The future effectiveness of antimicrobials is somewhat in doubt. Microorganisms, especially bacteria, are becoming resistant to more and more antimicrobial agents. Bacteria found in hospitals appear to be especially resilient, and are causing increasing difficulty for the sickest patients–those in the hospital. Currently, bacterial resistance is combated by the discovery of new drugs. However, microorganisms are becoming resistant more quickly than new drugs are being made available; thus, future research in antimicrobial therapy may focus on finding how to overcome resistance to antimicrobials, or how to treat infections with alternative antimicrobials.

Neutral Electrolyzed Water (NEW) also known as Anolyte is an activated aqueous solution of sodium chloride produced by passing a weak saline solution through an electrolytic cell and temporarily changing the properties of the salt water into a powerful oxidizing agent exhibiting antimicrobial properties. Neutral Electrolyzed Water (NEW) is produced near neutral 6.5 pH where the predominant antimicrobial agent is Hypochlorous Acid, the most efficient and efficacious specie of chlorine. Hypochlorous Acid kills microorganisms (bacteria, fungi, algae, spores and viruses).

The properties of NEW can be precisely controlled within Aquaox EC-Systems. NEW can be applied as liquid, mist/fog or spray. NEW is a colorless, aqueous solution with a slight chlorine or ozone odor. NEW is produced on site and intended to be used soon after being produced. NEW must be used within 30 days of production.

NEW is convenient, used for general disinfecting, for use on nursery surfaces, use on bathroom surfaces, use in athletic facilities, for use on athletic equipment and suitable for hospital use. NEW will not harm hard non-porous surfaces including titanium-coated medical grade stainless steel. NEW can be used neat or diluted with drinking water to reduce the free available chlorine.

Alkaline Water (AW) also known as Catholyte consist of Sodium Hydroxide (NAOH), commonly known as caustic soda, lye, or sodium hydrate. Sodium Hydroxide is a caustic compound which attacks organic matter. Caustic soda is available commercially in various white solid forms and as a solutions of various concentrations in water.
Sodium hydroxide provides fuctions of neutralisation of acids, hydrolysis, condensation. saponification and replacement of other groups in organic compounds of hydroxyl ions. Sodium Hydroxide removes waxes and oils from fibre to make the fibre more receptive to washing, bleaching and dying. Sodium hydroxide is also widely used in in making soaps and detergents. Sodium hydroxide is occasionally used in the home as an agent for unblocking drains. The chemical mechanism employed is the conversion of grease to a form of soap, and so forming a water soluble form to be dissolved by flushing; also decomposing complex molecules such as the protein of hair. Sodium hydroxide is frequently used as an industrial cleaning agent where it is often called “caustic”. It is added to water, heated, and then used to clean the process equipment, storage tanks, etc. It can dissolve grease, oils, fats and protein based deposits. The sodium hydroxide solution can also be added to surfactants. A sodium hydroxide soak solution is used as a powerful degreaser on stainless and glass bakeware. It is also a common ingredient in oven cleaners.

Alkaline Water (AW) is a less concentrated than commercial available Sodium Hydroxide solutions and has the same applications, although dosage is different. AW is a mild detergent and degreaser very useful for cleaning surfaces prior to sanitizing or disinfecting.

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14 Responses to “Anti-microbials, disinfectants, sanitizers and sterilants”

  1. kangen water machine for sale Says:

    Kangen Water will Change your water change your life. I offer everyone who could take it free water for 30 days and in that time you will see your body healed and gohead back to what God intended for it to be.
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    • aquaox Says:

      Thanks for your comment. ‘Kangen’ Water is Slightly Alkaline Water made from a Water Ionizer manufactured by Enagic (Kangen), Japan. Water Ionizers are mostly purchased to be able to drink daily Alkaline Water. Water Ionizers contain a water filter and an Electrolytic Cell in which the pH of the tap-water is changed. Drinking Alkaline water is associated with several health benefits, although it is difficult (if not impossible) to proof these health benefits. I personally do not believe most of the health claims, in particularly the claim that drinking Alkaline Water may prevent cancer. Having said so, I drink daily a glass of Acidic Water (mornings) and Alkaline Water (evenings). I personally believe it does something to my health whereas the Acidic Water helps digestion and boost immune system and the Alkaline Water helps to flush out toxins.

      I decided not trade in any Water Ionizers, as the whole industry around Water ionizers feels too much of a cult and it’s science is too debated. It is maybe therefore that most sales of Water Ionizers occur through multi-level-marketing at ‘rah rah’ parties. Due to the network marketing, prices of these Water Ionizers seems to be extraordinarily expensive. Also, often the distributors, in their enthusiasm make exaggerated claims. I have tested several Water Ionizers (purchased directly in Asia at a fraction of prices in the US) and these Water ionizers reliably produce a constant quality of Alkaline water.

      To conclude, you may find (like me) that Alkaline Water taste good and does something good for you. Try it, shop around and make a good decision…


  2. Ignacio Mumaw Says:

    excellent information.


    We are the largest pure drinking water producer and bottler in Bangladesh. We, Alpine Fresh Water System Ltd, bottle water in 5-gallon PC bottle. We bottled and sold 1.1 million bottle in 2010. Planned target in 2011 is 1.2 million. We like to get information about sanitizers and disinfectants which are new in the market.

  4. Kangen Says:


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