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Sanitize vs Sterilize vs Depyrogenate

These terms all refer to different ways of removing microbes from a surface or material. But they are all saying different things.


Cleaning removes dirt, dust, crumbs, and germs from surfaces or objects. When you clean, you will likely use soap (or detergent) and water to physically clean off the surfaces and objects. This may not necessarily kill the germs. But since you removed some of them, there are fewer germs that could spread infection to you.1


Sanitizing could be done by either cleaning, disinfecting, or both. Sanitizing means that you are lowering the number of germs to a safe level. What is considered a safe level depends on public health standards or requirements at a workplace, school, etc. For example, there are sanitizing procedures for restaurants and other facilities that prepare food. What you do to sanitize will vary, depending on your needs. You might be mopping a floor using a mop, a chemical, and water. You might use a dishwasher to sanitize the dishes. Or you could be using an antibacterial wipe on a tv remote.1


#TODO - needs more info, citations

This means to fully remove or kill all microbes. If it’s not 100% it’s not sterile. This does not include pyrogens.


Depyrogenation is the removal of pyrogens.

A pyrogen is defined as any substance that can cause a fever. Bacterial pyrogens include endotoxins and exotoxins, although many pyrogens are endogenous to the host.2

Depyropgenation sometimes will result in sterilization, however they are considered distinct processes and measures.